I often lament about how long it takes me to get anything written during the short chunks of time I have available each day. Since my time is limited I need to make the best use I can of it. The one thing that Iíve found most helpful when Iím writing my first draft is to have the story plotted before I start writing. Then I have a map to keep me going in the direction I want to go.
I first thought about how important plotting was after reading How I Went From Writing 2000 Words A Day to 10,000 Words A Day by Rachel Aaron. The key point she came back to over and over was that you canít increase your writing output in a productive way without knowing where your story should be going. The lesson was invaluable to me.
Once I had decided that I would outline my plots before I started to write I needed to know how I should structure these plots. Iíve read a few books, blog posts and other instructional materials on outlining a plot and ended up with too many choices. Thereís the three act structure which consists of the set up, a conflict and a resolution to the problem and then thereís several plot structures that have varying numbers of points in the story arc. Most of these arcs include a set up, inciting incident, rising action, conflict and resolution. Often the theories are saying much the same thing but the whole thing does get a bit confusing.
The one that I find the easiest to remember and use is the Four Part Structure. Itís not radically different from any of the other theories Ė I just find it succinct and easy to grasp.
Below Iíve paraphrased the basics of Storyfix.comís explanation of the Four Part Structure:
The set up is exactly that. It sets up who the characters are and what the problem is.
The second part is the response. This is where the main character responds to the inciting incident in the first part of the story. Depending on the length of the story, there may be one or more attempts to solve the problem but the character isnít successful and itís not clear yet whether or not he will be.
The third part is the attack. The character finally figures out what needs to be done and attacks the problem in an effective manner. The problem still isnít solved but the character is on the right track.
The fourth part is the resolution. The character finally accomplishes what he needs to do to solve the problem.
Thatís just the basics of it. You can read the detailed explanation on Storyfixís website.
What plot structure do you use? Or do you plot before you write?