Plotting To Be Scene – Part Nine


Plotting To Be Scene – Part Nine

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 ninth chapter, The Character Arc In Plot, he includes three exercises.

You can see my answers to Part Eight.

01 considering

EXERCISE ONE – Analyze a favorite novel or story that has a big change happening to the Lead. Underline passages where your Main Character is challenged in significant areas of her life. Put check marks next to those passages that show how their challenges are affecting character change.

I picked LM Montgomery’s Old Lady Lloyd. This short story, part of Chronicles of Avonlea, is 13,000 words long.

Miss Lloyd found herself challenged 23 times. As our story opens, she finds herself isolated and lives in abject poverty, hidden from her neighbors. Her isolation is self-inflicted, stemming from her rash temper in her youth which ended her only romantic possibility, one that she never mended. Her poverty arises because an unscrupulous cousin cheated her father of his fortune, and she is too proud to admit this to anyone.

Our inciting moment comes when she discovers her old flame’s daughter has come to live in her community. Moved by love, Miss Lloyd begins to secretly give her gifts which do not cost her anything, such as flowers and fruit. From there, she sacrifices from her meager income to become part of her church sewing circle that Silvia is also part of. Finally, she sells a cherished heirloom so Sylvia can have a party dress. Her final sacrifice occurs when she is so moved by Sylvia’s need for a scholarship, she is willing to beg her cousin to secretly give Sylvia a scholarship.

This story, with it’s reveals, kept me reading, wanting to know how Miss Lloyd would overcome her next challenge. And, I kept waiting for her neighbors to finally wake up and see how impoverished she was, and help her. They did. The unscrupulous cousin couldn’t spend money fast enough to help her.

Miss Lloyd and Sylvia became close friends. Maybe, Miss Lloyd let cousin Andrew reconcile with her. But that was left as an ambiguous outcome.

EXERCISE TWO – Write a short profile about your Lead character’s personality at the beginning of your story.


She believes and tries to obey her people’s laws:  (1) Love, respect and defend the Land and the Great Spirit.; (2) Honor and defend widows and children; (3) Show no fear or weakness to enemies of her people; (4) Honor all obligations to her family, her clan, and her people; (5) Always act with honor, and never lie or cheat once she has given her word.


She values her People’s opinion of her, the survival of her people, her son, his future role in bringing the two people’s together, the sufferings of others

Dominant attitudes

She is willing to face any subject, and is willing to mobilize people to solve common problems. She can put her ego aside when making decisions. She does not worry about what others think of her as a person, and loves opportunities. She likes being the center of attention and wants to make people feel special.


She thinks the Jaeni aristocracy oppress their own people for their own gain; she thinks Jaeni’s leadership, left to their own devices, would exterminate her people; she thinks her people are morally superior and have souls and the Jaeni may not; and she has endured great humiliation with her husband cheating on her to save her son’s position.

What plot events happen which change or challenge these elements.

Someone assassinates her husband and another tries to kill her father; Someone kidnaps her son; Her mentor dies; and she becomes leader of her cause

EXERCISE THREE – Make your own character table and fill in the top row with the major incidents which challenge your character’s inner life. In the lower rows, describe what happens to the character as a result.

First Image

She is in control of her world; she can face difficult situations, empathizes with people and will mobilize them to a goal. When she makes decisions, she is unworried about what others think, sees challenges as opportunities, She boldly speaks up and provides leadership.

She makes people feels special and likes being the center of attention.

She feels superior, can overwhelm insecure people, repress and manipulate them. She is overconfident, oversimplifies complex problems, and blindly follows her father’s lead.

Plot Point 1 – Her husband assassinated and her father wounded

She can still face difficult situations, empathizes with people and mobilizes them to a common goal. When she makes decisions, she is unworried about what others think.

She continues to oversimplify problems, repress people, and follow her father’s wishes.

She no longer feels in control of her world and oversimplfy, doesn’t want to be the center of attention or provide leadership, and cannot put people at their ease or make them feel special, and no longer feels superior.

All Is Lost – Someone kidnaps her son

Her beliefs impair her judgment, she states her opinions as fact, and continues to oversimplify problems.

She can no longer bear difficult situations, empathize with people, and worries about what others think of her.

Dark Night Of The Soul – when she gets her mentor and friend killed

Her beliefs impair her judgment, she states her opinions as fact, and continues to oversimplify problems.

She has become a zealot, willing to cross moral boundaries, and is inflexible.

Plot Point 2 – She becomes leader of the Loyalists

She is back in control of her world, facing difficult situations, empathizes and mobilizes people. She is unworried about second guessers, sees the opportunities in challenges, willing to provide leadership, making people feels special, and willing to be the center of attention again.

But she is still a zealot, willing to cross moral boundaries, and willing to manipulated people.

She no longer feels superior, and doesn’t try to overwhelm people. Nor is she willing to blindly follow her Father’s lead.

What Does This All Mean?

I was curious went I went through this exercise.  When I laid out Scepter’s Sacrifice, I spent lots of time creating character arcs which meshed with my story arc.  Still, it was interesting to go through the exercises.  I felt they validated what I had done.  Whether I wrote what I meant to write is another thing.  Only time will tell.

Click here to read about Chapter Ten.


3 thoughts on “Plotting To Be Scene – Part Nine

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

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

  3. Pingback: Plotting To Be Scene – Part Eight | Simply Silent

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