Plot Outline to Plot Model

by Anna
(United States)

Question: After I finish the 10 step plot outline, which is step 3 in How to Write a Novel, bottom of page says to use the W Plot Model (or Dramatica chart example) - I do not understand how to do this, I am very frustrated, as I want to apply Dramatica theory to my writing. I can't even understand how to apply my outline to the W model. Also, the end of Step 10, for story outline also says the same, to refine plot using the models. I thought I could incorporate the charts I downloaded from Dramatica along with W & Dramatica ones you provided, but can't figure out how they go together with instructions from your website.

Thank You.

Answer: In Step 3 you created a brief plot outline using what Dramatica calls the 8 static elements. They are static because they don't have to appear in a set order in the story. You simply put them in an order that makes sense for your story. You can also illustrate each one several times in the story.

Though this outline is pretty simple, it is all some writers need at this stage to envision their story.

Assuming you continue with the steps, you will revisit your plot in step 10 - Writing an Outline. Here, if you have not done so before, you will start to think about the progressive aspects of your plot.

By progressive aspects, I mean the events of your story that must go in chronological order for the story to make sense. For example, it would not make sense to put the resolution of the story before the crisis, chronologically.

So step 10 invites you to create the four major dramatic arcs which can unfold chronologically over the course of a complete story, which is a fairly advanced plotting method.

After either step 3 or step 20, you
may want to look at the W-Plot or one of the other story models help with the progressive elements.

These models help you choose the major turning points (or "drivers") of your plot which appear at the beginning and end of the four acts (in a four-act structure). They also consider other events that should appear in chronological order.

Some writers find that the combination of the 8 static elements and the W-Plot are all the plot theory they ever need. They use the W-Plot model to choose the 5 turning points and divide the story into acts. Then they sketch out what will happen in each act, making sure the 8 elements appear at appropriate points.

Others may want to develop all four throughlines as discussed in step 10, and add these into the plot outline. They may also add subplots.

Some writers will go further and decide to tell the story in non-chronological order. In this case, they will alter the order in which they will reveal events to the reader, perhaps using flashbacks and flashforwards. (It helps to have the timeline worked out before you start doing this.)

You can make your plot outline as complex or simple as you like. The important thing is that it helps the story become clear in your mind so that you feel you have a roadmap to help you in the writing. Don't make it so complex that you get confused. And don't make it so simple that it's full of holes or lacks emotional depth.

Whether simple or complex, the outline will help you to spot and fix plot problems before you've written too much. It also helps prevent you from getting stuck in the writing process.

If you want an example of how all these elements work in a single story, here's an analysis of The Hunger Games...

Hope that clarifies things.

Comments for Plot Outline to Plot Model

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Thanks for clarification, I missed page about
by: Anna

Thanks for your clarification! I realized that I was missing one of your pages:

which explains what I was looking for, the novel outline, & throughlines. I assumed that the next step, after the plot outline, should be the story outline, instead of working on the characters, setting, and theme.

The exact information I was looking for is on that page, I was just confused about not finding a link to it from the plot outline page.

Your reply is extremely helpful, I appreciate your time!

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