What is a PLOT?

What is a PLOT?

Rory C Keel

March is PLOT month here at Wordsmithsix.com. We are exploring all the information we can find that will give us understanding as to how a plot will help our stories.

So, what is a plot and why is it so important to a story? Well, James Scott Bell in his book Plot & Structure put it this way, “Plot is the power grid that makes it happen.”

A plot is what ties a story together from beginning to end.

To help you develop a good plot, ask these questions.

  1. What is this story about?
  2. Is anything happening?
  3. Why should I keep reading?
  4. Why should I care?

When I began my writing journey, I thought these questions had to be answered about the story before I could start writing, bogging me down. These are questions that need to be asked at the end of every page, as you write. This helps to advance your writing through the next page by the answers you find to the questions and keep your story tied together.

Designing a Compelling Synopsis

Designing a Compelling Synopsis

The following outline was a handout at a class by author DeWanna Pace, who was an amazing teacher. Not only can this be used to write a synopsis, but I’ve found it helpful to provide a big picture view of your story and plot line. This will keep you on track and help you reach the end with your main characters goals and motivation still in mind. It’s so easy to lose the overall structure of a story sometimes and get lost in words that are going nowhere. The story has to keep moving onward with every scene and every section of dialogue pushing the reader to the end.

The opening hook/logline:

Who is the main character:

Ordinary world for the main character:

Trigger event/inciting incident:





Genre consideration:

What she learns:



Motivation for her:


DeWanna provided these additional tips for romance writers: beginning/jolt into action; complication/conflict; work place/historical setting; kiss; fight; realization of being in love; love scene; self-knowledge/changes in character; and HAPPY ENDING.
If you are writing romance use basic fiction matrix and overlay the romance/love story plotline.

Characterization Part 3

Characterization Part 3

By Natalie Bright


From last week, did you develop a history and family chart for your character? Next, let’s dig even deeper and consider how their life experiences might influence their actions and responses to the conflict in your plot.

The Power of Control

When you get right down to it, I think people throughout the world and through time have experienced the same emotions. Being human means we have the ability to practice self-control and we cover our genitals (and there are always exceptions). Fictional characters would draw on those same emotions. They’d also be influenced by traits of their experiences, both past and present.

Author Steven James talked about the power of control in a main character in a special session at OWFI con in Oklahoma City. Self-control and silence are remarkable traits for the hero. “Heroes don’t back down,” he said. Stillness, silence, body stance, and a slow response can evoke power. Would 007 ever run from the room screaming like a girl? Through internal dialogue, your main character may be having a total meltdown but on the outside the villain only sees calm and control. This makes an intense scene for the reader.

Develop the Differences

reflect on the differences for your protag and antag, and then take everything to the next level for fictional characters. For example, consider the Texas Panhandle where I live. A visitor from Florida commented how busy everyone is here. She said we’re always going somewhere to do something, evidenced by our recurring reference of “fixin’ to”.  She told me that people in Florida don’t seem to be that busy at doing anything or even making plans. Her comment surprised me in that the differences would even be that noticeable.

We’ve seen this a hundred times; a character is put into a new situation, a new city, or a different world in which their normalcy is now outside the norm, and often times extremely strange.  Develop the differences.

I remember talking to a group of Chinese college students who were amazed that they could drive outside of town to where there were no people.  They were shocked to drive down a dirt road to our home and not meet another car. At the time, they lived in apartments owned by my in-laws and they would ask the strangest questions, “Who gave you permission to buy this building.” “How were you assigned to this land?” “Who tells you how many cattle you can own?” They couldn’t comprehend that my husband managed property he actually owned, which he was capable of repairing and leasing to people of his choosing. The idea that families could own grassland and decide how many cattle the land will support was an unbelievable concept to these exchange students. To me, being assigned an apartment and having a job which I didn’t choose seems just as strange.

What If

I love meeting new people and learning about their lives. Aren’t humans fascinating? Fictional characters can be just as enthralling. Dig deeper to determine the differences between your heroes and villains and then make them larger than life. Create conflict. Utilize both external and internal issues and build intensity with emotion.

As the character dynamics swirl around in your head and as you consider the “what if”, you’ll come away with a ton of conflict for your plot line based on the feelings and desires of your characters. Once you really know your fictional creations, you can let them take you on their journey.

Bestselling author Jodi Thomas pointed out, “Characters are interesting only to the extent that they grate on each other.”

Have fun and Keep writing!

Why, Oh Why?

Why, Oh Why?

Don’t Be Afraid of the Journey

By Natalie Bright

A feisty eleven-year-old by the name of Silver Belle consumes my thoughts. She lives in 1887 Texas in the fictitious frontier town of Justice, Texas.

She’s the main character in my western middle grade novel, and she’s so demanding. Thoughts of her adventures interrupt me without notice, day and night. Several weeks ago, for example, I realized her grandmother does not like her.

WHY is there conflict between Silver Belle and her grandmother? WHY must Silver Belle explore her Mexican heritage by visiting a sheepherders plazita in the Texas Panhandle? WHY can’t their issues be resolved and does this story end well?

I have no idea as to the answers to any of those questions, but I do know for a fact, just as true and real as this blog I’m writing, that Silver Belle’s grandmother refuses to acknowledge her own granddaughter’s existence.

The journey as a writer is in finding out the WHY.

At this point, I have total sympathy and a better understanding as to WHY Hemingway began drinking every day at noon.


Natalie Bright