Five Stage Plot
The five stage plot is a method of analyzing and planning stories that I’ve mostly developed on my own. The development has come from numerous analyzing of stories and through the study of plotting methods taught by others, like Randy Ingermanson. It is also sort of a reinvention and expansion of the five act structure previously discussed in this series. The five stage plot gets at the story in such a way as to shape the movement of the characters through the story rather than simple defining the major benchmarks. I think once you understand the five stage plot I’m going to lay out, you’ll find it to be a useful tool for planning and developing your own plots.
My friend, founding member with me at the New Authors’ Fellowship, and now fellow author at Splashdown Books,Diane M. Graham, just released her debut novel I Am Ocilla. Prior to the release of the book, one of her proof readers said something on Facebook about the twists and turns in Diane’s book. I made the comment to him that there’s only been one book that I didn’t figure out before the twists were upon me.
That started a discussion…well, more like boasting and smack talk on the part of both Diane and me. It turned into a bet. Until now, it has only been recorded on Facebook. Here’s the thread if you’d like to look it over. I wanted to give the details of the bet a more permanent and stable home.
So here they are…the details of the bet:
If Diane’s book surprises Keven just once with a plot twist, then Keven will make a YouTube video of him dancing for at least 25 seconds, saying, “Di is twisty.” If Diane’s book surprises Keven more than once, then Keven will also have her on his website as a guest expert on how to create twists in a story. If Diane’s book fails to surprise Keven, then Diane must make a video of her dancing for at least 25 seconds, saying, “Keven is a plot master.” And if by 3/4′s through the book Keven presents a reasonable outline of how the book will end, then Diane will have Keven as a guest expert on her website on recognizing and avoiding predictable plot devices.
So there’s the bet. I’m not scared, really. Plot development is something I’m very nerdy about…sort of an extension of my fascination with taking things apart to see how they work. Which, by the way, I’ve ALWAYS been able to put everything back together again.
The bet will be realized at the beginning of the summer, when I have time free enough to read her book. This post not only serves to document the bet, but will also kick off a series of related posts on plot development. I’ve been wanting to write some of what I know about plotting, and this finally gives me an excuse. Look for those posts soon.