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Mar 23, 2020

How a Pantser Can Plot Like a Pro

By CS Wade.

Plot basically is who did what, and to whom. The emotional side of plot is motive, the reason someone does what they do. That sums up plot in the simplest fashion. Plot is the elements that make a story great: great character arcs, tension, conflict, compelling theme, danger (emotional or physical) fascinating twists, and interesting characters who engage in smart dialogue. At some point, the plot must have a dark night of the soul for your protagonist: the lowest point of the story for your protagonist. 

However, even with all the proper elements, your story may fall flat if the timing is off. It is not the timing. That is structure. Without structure, your plot could end up a flop. Things might happen too soon or too late. You can use a simple timeline like the one I use, which still leads to a solidly structured plot.

Act 1 – first 25% of your story
1) Beginning (hook) (world normal) 
2) Introducing your characters (good and bad)  
3) Foreshadowing events to come (can be subtle or not)
4) Lead up to first plot point (hints and twists)
5) First plot point (all changes good or bad). This is where the real action starts

Act 2 – middle is 50% of your story
6) Protagonist reacts to the changed circumstances and tries to adapt
7) First pinch point, the antagonist ups the stake 
8) Threat lurks builds and evolves 
9) Midpoint of the story (twist and reversals are well placed here) big win or loss can also go here. The stakes must once more rise higher.
10) Protagonist changes course, the bad guy closes in
11) Second pinch point, antagonist ups the stakes once more 
12) Trial and error, confrontations not winning nor losing or wins some lose some
13) Hope lost dark night of the soul's death of some kind (emotional or physical)
14) Second plot point when the protagonist starts to get a hand on the bad guys
15) Protagonist becomes cleverer or heads on to the bad guys, becomes more desperate and dangerous

Act 3 – last 25% of the story
16) The truth emerges or becomes clearer
17) Final confrontation/ climax of the story
18) Final resolution of events
19) World returns to a new normal

As a pantser, I find that if I pay attention to the list, I can free-write while still following structure. I know Act 1 will be 25% of the story and will have those types of events occur. Act 2 is 50% and follows the above events. Act 3 is the last 25%.
It allows me the freedom to free-write without losing sight of the overall structure. 
Planners will just make the outline from this list. There is other structure out there, but this is the one I use. Once you have a rough draft, you can divide your page count by the % above to see if you are within the approximate placement of the events of the story.


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About the Author: C.S. Wade
This story is a journey for me. I always wrote, especially in times of stress, though not professionally. Science fiction/Fantasy an easy love for me. I grew up a Star Trek, Star Wars fan, and later a fan of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Spent long nights listening to Art Bell on coast to coast and later George Noory. Love the History channel’s Ancient Aliens. It awoke something exciting; a story to somehow make the Ancient Gods become real, their history deeply intertwined with our history. I hope it takes you on a similar journey. As a military brat and later spouse, I have traveled the world and across the USA. I have two beautiful girls now grown with children of their own. I have five intelligent, beautiful and inquisitive grandchildren. I live on the Eastern plains of Colorado with the company of my pup, Sadie and my wonderful family
My book is in a second edition and will be published under a new publishing house Platinum Oak Publishing which will go live till May/June.