I’m pleased to have my friend and fellow author Lilly Gayle here today. Welcome Lilly! The Victorian Time period is one I’ve always found intriguing and I’ve lived in old homes from that era, so this setting appeals to me. Your new story sounds great and is in my TBR pile. I’ve purchased it so I know it’s there. 🙂
I see you’re sharing insights about plot pitfalls, ever valuable to consider both as a seasoned author and one just venturing down this long and twisted road where indeed many a pitfall awaits us.
Take it away, Lilly!
Lilly: A plot is the events that make up a story, how those events relate to the main characters, and the sequence in which the events occur.
Subplots are plots or events that occur within the main plot that can alter the events or the characters and their decisions. Subplots allow for expansion of the novel and make it easier for the author to add plot twists or unexpected events. But too many subplots water down the main plot to the point where the reader no longer knows whose story it is or even what the story is about. (*Something I have to watch for).
A novel usually has subplots and twists, but if the subplot begins to overshadow the real plot then it tends to bog down the story—the same for too many antagonists or protagonist. Adding too many subplots and characters makes it harder to tie up the loose ends—and every subplot must be resolved. (*So true)
I’m basically a pantster, but even those less meticulous writers need to know the plot of their story before they begin. (This is something I forgot while writing my current WIP.) But utilizing a basic plot outline to map out my story got me back on track. I hope others find this basic plot outline as useful as I did.
Prologue (optional)—no more than two or three pages
- Short setup that introduces characters or events necessary to the plot
- Usually starts with action or useful dialogue that provides backstory without backstory dumping
- Establishes a past or history of events that “predate” the novel
The Exposition or Beginning—no more than 30 pages or 3 chapters.
- Introduces the main characters
- Shows basic goals and motivation of main characters
- Reveals a challenge, possibly internal conflicts
Conflict or Rising Action
- Introduces main external conflict
- All major characters are known-protagonists are established
- The protagonist understands his/her goals and begins to work toward accomplishing those goals but smaller problems emerge (subplots.)
- Progress is made toward the smaller problems
- Tension or complications arise or increase between the main characters (personal conflict)
- A big event occurs
- The part of the story most likely to drag if the writer isn’t careful
- Main characters decide upon a course of action for solving the main conflict
- Protagonists learn about others; primarily about his or her self
- Events lead up to a crisis
- All seems lost
- Conflict/problem seems insurmountable
- Worst moments in story
- The turning point of the story.
- Question are asked, accusations are made, and decisions are reached.
- The protagonist and the antagonist go against one another either directly or indirectly but there is no clear winner.
- New insights for characters
- Sometimes a false resolution is reached
- Short section, fast paced but everything is headed toward a final resolution
- Final confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist
- Loose ends are tied up
- In romance, this is where the happily ever after is revealed.
- In a love story, this is where the great sacrifice is made.
Epilogue (Dawn)—Optional but must have an Epilogue if there is a Prologue
- Last page or two
- Happily ever after… but…
- Leaves a question or two, without undoing the story
- Great for books with planned sequels~
All Excellent Points! Thanks so much for sharing that helpful information.
And now for the blurb from Lilly’s recent release,
When a brooding English earl with a SLIGHTLY TARNISHED reputation marries his dead wife’s American cousin to save her from her uncle’s vengeful schemes, the sea captain’s daughter with a taste for adventure sparks desires he thought long dead.
Nicole Keller has always been headstrong and independent, but after a failed business venture and a sinking ship take her father, her home, and her childhood sweetheart, Nikki must support herself and her mother. But moving to England and marrying Chadwick Masters, Earl of Gilchrest isn’t what she has in mind. And falling in love with the mysterious earl could endanger both their lives.~
“This will be your room.” He opened the door and stood to one side so she could enter. “I’m afraid you will have to continue to make do without a lady’s maid. The only household staff I employ are Mrs. Lomax, Dickens, Cook, and my groom. My driver lives in the village as do the few maids I hire on occasion to help Mrs. Lomax with the laundry and heavier cleaning.”
Nikki smiled. “That’s quite all right, Lord Masters. I’m used to doing for myself, and it’s only for a week.”
He returned her smile and leaned forward, his warm breath fanning her cheek. “What happened toChad? Surely we’ve gone beyond such formalities now, Nicole.”
Gooseflesh rippled over her skin. Her body quivered. “I don’t think it would be proper for me to call you by your given name.” She risked a glance at his face and wished she hadn’t. His eyes no longer looked worried. They were hot—almost feverish. Her skin heated.
“It didn’t stop you before,” he said, his deep voice a husky rumble. Despite the heat, Nikki shivered.
“I don’t think this is proper either,” she stammered when he brushed his lips against her temple. A delicious tingle skittered down her spine.
“No, probably not,” he said, nibbling her neck.
A strange tension rippled through her muscles, tightening them with pleasure. She arched her neck, granting him access as he slid his lips along the column of her throat. Her hands bunched the skirt of her plain, serviceable dress. Her stomach quivered.
“What are you doing?” she asked, breathless and giddy.
He pulled his hands from his pockets and pulled her closer. “I’m seducing you, I think.”
“Seducing me?” Her heart hammered against her ribs.
“Hmm. You’re doing it again.” Then he lowered his mouth and kissed her.~
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