Plotting To Be Scene – Part Six

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Plotting To Be Scene – Part Six

I am studying how to plot, and the relationship of plots to scenes.  I recently completed my first draft of Scepter’s Sacrifice, and know that, once I start revising and editing my story, I will have much work to do.  I am using James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure to help me learn to write more professionally.   In Bell’s fifth chapter, Endings, he includes four exercises.

You can see my answers to Part Five.
01 considering1 – Reread the last couple of chapters from five novels you love. Analyze each of them. Is it closed-ended? Does it have a twist? Why does it work for you? This will help you understand your own writing preferences.

I read three or four chapters of Board Stiff by Elaine Viets, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, Far Gone by Lauara Griffin, The Double Game by Dan Fesperman, The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowlings.

Board Stiff closed in positive fashion. It had no twist, and it’s epilog was clumsy. Closure relied on tricking two uncooperative junior villains into betraying their boss. In both cases, our MC resorted to bluffs and bullying to gain junior villain confessions. Our MC took physical risks to get closure. She resolves her personal issues and gets her guy back. I thought the ending was average.

Sweet Tooth’s story ending was positive, but our MC’s personal life remained unresolved. Our author achieved tension when he created situations where our MC betraying her lover. She then waits, with dread, until her role in suborning her lover comes out. Two twists came at the end. Our MC thinks she has suborned her lover. But, he knows what she has done and intends to punish her. Only, when his chance comes to exact revenge, having fallen back in love with her. The ah ha moment might have worked, but it went on far too long. I didn’t like this ending.

Far Gone’s story ending was positive. Our author creates plot tension by putting many people in personal danger. There were no real twists, but had an Uh Oh moment when terrorists planted bombs, requiring our MC and others to disarm it. Our MC got her man. This ending felt only okay, but my heart melted with the final paragraph.

The Double Game’s ending was ambiguous. Our author maintained tension by putting our MC in physical danger several times. We never do know if his main villain was a double spy or not. I disliked it when our MC decided to turn his experience into his novel, the one we were reading. I hated his last page.

The Dragon Reborn’s ending was ambiguous. Our author maintained tension by subjecting his characters to physical danger in several story lines. . Through twists and In several twists, our MC believes he has vanquished his foe. Only in the Ah Ha moment do we learn that he has only moved on to face bigger and more capable foes, in classic series fashion. The Ah Ha moment was short. I liked this ending.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’s ending was positive. Our author maintained tension by putting the MC into constant peril. Unfortunately, the ah ha moment went on too long. Our MC was finally ready to get on with his life. This ending worked for me, but it seemed to drag on.

2 – What sort of ending do you have in mind for your novel? Try writing the climactic scene. This does not have to be the scene you actually use, but it may be. At the very least it will get your writer’s mind working on the end and allow yourself to understand your characters more deeply. Use this information in your writing.

When I wrote my WIP, I wanted my ending to be positive, with good outcomes. I also wanted a twist, so I could justify my MC’s love for her villain / love. When I wrote it, I had no thought of writing anything more than one story. I can see it wouldn’t be hard to turn my story into a series.

After having written my ending, I’m not sure if it’s what I want. When I wrote THE END, it didn’t feel right.

Deheya surrenders to Christor and goes to the Capital to be with her child in captivity. Deheya’s army defeats Christor’s army, he tries to get her to make him Regent. Instead, she convinces Christor to abdicate and go into exile with her, leaving her son to become Duke. Enraged, junior villain Shen Rekmon tries to kill her, but mortally wounds Christor. When Shen Rekmon then tries to kill Deheya, she kills him, after learning Christor didn’t kill her husband. Afterward, she leads city dwellers in revolt and kills the last junior villain, to emerge triumphant.

I maintained tension by putting Deheya in physical and emotional danger throughout. Deheya had to fight, to save her son. She risks her physical safety, and even toys with sacrificing her goal. My Uh Oh moment came when Shen Rekmon tried to kill Deheya, but got Christor instead. My Ah Ha moment came immediately after, when she learns Christor didn’t kill her husband. But, I don’t feel I gave her closure with her husband. And, I didn’t kill my villains in ascending order.

3 – Come up with two or three alternative endings. List as many as ten one-line possibilities. Then choose two or three most promising, and sketch out the scenes in summary form (250 words maximum). If an alternative seems stronger than the one you’ve had in mind, use it. Keep the old ending as a possible twist at the end. Or keep your original ending, and use one of the alternatives as a possible twist.

I brainstormed other endings, some little more than tweaks to my current ending. Others were far different.

  • What if Deheya’s army lost and he forced her to marry him to keep her son from being murdered?
  • What if Deheya rescues Christor after her army loses, but escapes to her Father’s Territory and waits for a future day.
  • What if Christor’s henchmen murder both Deheya and Regar, and Christor rules Jaeni.
  • What if The Far Away King’s fleet and army arrives, and drives both Christor and Deheya into her Father’s Territory.
  • What if Christor’s henchmen murder Deheya, but Loyalists smuggle Regar to her Father’s Territory
  • What if Christor’s henchmen murder Deheya, and Christor raises Regar?
  • What if Deheya leads the Capital in revolt before Christor returns?
  • What if Christor doesn’t fight, but retreats to the Capital and Deheya leads a revolt to rescue her son?
  • What if Christor wins the big battle, returns in triumph, and Deheya leads a city revolt and unseats Christor

I explored these and chose two to look more closely at. They are similar to my current ending, but with twists.

Second Ending: Deheya surrenders to Christor and goes to the Capital to be with her child in captivity. Deheya’s army defeats Christor’s army, Deheya sparks her supporters to revolt, rescues Regar, and kills Colonel La Van before being recaptured. Christor returns, tries to get her to make him Regent. Instead, she convinces Christor to abdicate and go into exile with her, leaving her son to become Duke. Enraged, junior villain Shen Rekmon tries to kill her, but mortally wounds Christor. When Shen Rekmon then tries to kill Deheya, she kills him, after learning Christor didn’t kill her husband. Afterward, she leads everyone in a State Memorial for her dead husband, and a private service for Christor.

Third Ending: Deheya surrenders to Christor and goes to the Capital to be with her child in captivity. Rather than give battle, Christor retreats behind the city walls and digs in. Deheya sparks her supporters to revolt, rescues Regar, and kills Colonel La Van before being recaptured. Christor returns, tries to get her to make him Regent. Instead, she convinces Christor to abdicate and go into exile with her, leaving her son to become Duke. Enraged, junior villain Shen Rekmon tries to kill her, but mortally wounds Christor. When Shen Rekmon then tries to kill Deheya, she kills him, after learning Christor didn’t kill her husband. Afterward, she leads everyone in a State Memorial for her dead husband, and a private service for Christor.

4. Make a list of all the loose ends in your novel. You can do this as you write by keeping a separate document and recording the items as they come up. Create a strategy for tying them up with plot developments, minor characters, or using a newspaper story.

I will do this when I reread my story. This will be especially critical when I move scenes or cut them.

So, what does all this mean?

As I said earlier, I said didn’t like my original ending.  After reading Bell’s thoughts on endings, I better understand what I should be aiming for with endings.

  1. I need to decide if my WIP is an only child, or if this part of a series.
  2. Keep tension high, right to THE END.
  3. Make sure my MC has no choice but to fight.
  4. Make my MC dig down deep and summon skills and talents shown in previous scenes to win, not just luck.
  5. Decisively defeat my villains, and make sure my MC does all vanquishing.
  6. Decide if I want an Uh Oh moment, where everything seems to be going well, and then something happens which puts my MC in peril again.
  7. Make my Ah Ha moment concise and complete.  Don’t do an info dump like one book did, or drag it out and out and out like others did.
  8. My twist with Christor not being his brother’s killer is good.  I would like to come up with at least one more, but I don’t want it to be one of the villains seeming to come back to life.
  9. I need to continue to amply my MC’s willingness to sacrifice her life, and her goal to save her son.
  10. And I have to create better Last Page Resonance.

Click her to read about Part Seven.

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2 thoughts on “Plotting To Be Scene – Part Six

  1. Pingback: Plotting To Be Scene – Part Seven | Simply Silent

  2. Pingback: Silent’s November Nibbles | Simply Silent

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