Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Questions to ask yourself before you plot

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Jan• 23•12

  • What is your story’s main problem or conflict?
  • What’s going to be the most dramatic event/moment in your protagonist’s arc? Have you staged it in act 2 or 3?
  • Are other characters in the story going to have a character arc?
  • How many subplots are in the story? All necessary? How many will be tied up by the ending?
  • Create a cast list then next to each person’s name write down his or her agenda in the story. What or who will get in the way of that agenda?
  • What will your readers learn about the world and human nature from your story?
  • What will your protagonist learn from the story events?
  • How many characters will appear in each scene? (Tip: Beware of crowding scenes.)
  • What is your protagonist most afraid of?
  • What is your protagonist emotional need or baggage which will interfere with his/her efforts in the story and need to be addressed somehow?
  • What will be the major reversal (of fortune) in the story? Will it occur at about the midpoint in the story?
  • Will there be a dark night of the soul—the crisis that ends act 2 when the protagonist feels defeated and alone? When all appears lost?
  • After this crisis, how will your protagonist rise to face the final challenge that creates the climax?
  • What is the theme of the story? This is a relatively simple concept: justice, self reliance, greed, guilt, loyalty,
  • What archetypes do you use in your story: destroyer, mentor, ally, underdog,

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