I am absolutely not going to panic that we have a month and 4 days left before NaNoWriMo. Nope, nope, nope, not gonna do it.
Instead of panicking, I’m going to talk story prep. We’re hosting a workshop on October 12th, but in the meantime, here’s a link I’ve found helpful in planning stories, from Storyfix.com: The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool (that fits on one page).
There’s a lot of balls for a planner to juggle. But one thing I’ve found is that if I can nail down the first plot point and set my character down the path of emotional growth and give them proper agency, then the rest of it comes together.
A few things to remember about the first plot point:
- this is the moment your character commits to the story
- there is no going back
- it should be the protagonist’s choice, not coerced
- it should show a shift in the protagonist’s emotions or thinking, for better or worse, a willingness to change or a realization that change must happen
- the first plot point bridges the gap between part 1 and part 2 (of a 4-part story), in which the character goes from setup to response
- plan this big moment between 20%-25% into your story
Don’t let first plot points scare you. They can be high-stakes or low-key, from betting the farm to admitting to yourself that yes, maybe the house is actually haunted. Both of these moments require a response–now the the farm is at stake, the wager (and work) begins. Once you admit the house is haunted, you have do something–either prove there are no ghosts, move out, call in a priest, or learn to play nice with your ethereal cohabitants.
In fact, your protagonist might have to do all those things, but first, they have to admit those strange sounds at night aren’t just mice in the wall boards. That’s the power of the first plot point.