I just wanted to share one of my ways of IDENTIFYING PLOT PROBLEMS:
I recently realised that there is a problem somewhere in my story that is causing it to lose momentum towards the end, at first I was really disheartened (I did that classic thing of doing a read through and then suddenly coming to the conclusion that it was utter crap) BUT THEN I did WHAT I URGE EVERY WRITER TO DO IF YOU EVER GET TO THIS SAME POINT – I went back over the entire plot to check for problems, to find the part that was letting down the others
One way of checking for plot problems is to use the “W” plot framework to check that all your conflicts/resolutions/turning points etc are in the right places – GET YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW as Metatron said (Just cause he’s right doesn’t make him any less of an arsehole though, am I right SPN?).
Anyway, there are different ways of using the W plot which really depend on whether you are a 3 act or 4 act writer (I like the four act structure personally). The top image shows how to use it for 3 acts and the bottom for four acts.
NOW what you need to do is draw that big W on a big piece of paper and then fill in your trigger events and turning points, and then along each joining line fill in the plot points between them. By doing this you should be able to identify exactly where the problems are. I could see very clearly that my plot problem was in the middle of Act 3, I identified a scene that didn’t react to the previous one (this was the culprit behind the flow halt) – so now I need to replace it with a scene that actually serves the action of the act.
Note on Act three: This tends to be where most peoples plot problems are because it is the most intense act of the four act structure (the DEEPENING OF THE PROBLEM ACT). You want to make sure that every scene in this act is totally necessary.
Does the “w” Plot seem too simplistic?
Yes well that is why you must remember that within the OVERALL W plot you will also have little mini “W’s” – what I mean by this is, each one of your acts MUST have;
- Setting up the problem (Tension)
- Recovering from the problem (New ideas, positive momentum)
- deepening the problem
- Resolution (New light/understanding)
Its the ups and downs that cause tension and keep the momentum!
Anyway, I hope this helps someone