The Five Minute Method of Plot . . . or the Four Most Important C’s of Story
Sometimes you just want to plot out a quick story without all the fuss and bluster of entangling subplots and multi-character intrigues. So I’ll make it short and sweet because that’s exactly what this basic plot of my devising provides. This particular plotting method proves fantastic for creating short stories especially (and as such is a great tool to teach children, and curious Pantsers dipping their toes into the mysterious waters of plot for the first time, and other amateur writers interested in writing because it teaches them the foundations of plot in the simplest of ways), though it works just as well for framing the bare bones plot skeleton of longer stories.
2. Complications x 3
1. CONFLICT: Think Inciting Incident. This is your protagonist’s introduction to your story’s main conflict which is caused in some way by the antagonist and/or the antagonist’s influential forces hereby changing your protagonist’s ordinary world no longer ordinary in as permanent a way as possible.
2. COMPLICATIONS x 3: This is your protagonist striving to resolve the story’s main conflict while walking the treacherous road to eventually confronting the antagonist, and it happens in three parts because three is the magic number in fiction (two complications are not enough to build suspense, and four complications become boring). All three complications provide an event that something bad happens but also something good. Failure is outweighed by success (for example: your sleuth protagonist is attacked by an antagonist minion and almost killed, but after capturing their assailant they interrogate a stunning new clue from them). The key here is that each new complication is more intense than the previous, as well all three are connected in some way to the antagonist and/or the antagonist’s influential forces. Think two steps gained for every one step lost.
3. CRISIS: Think tragedy. Your protagonist suffers their worst event so far. All is lost, it seems the antagonist has won, as well your protagonist miring in despair is as far from resolving your story’s main conflict as possible. Here big failure outweighs small success on a tremendous scale, yes, but that vital success after their failure provides your protagonist the necessary epiphany which inspires them to continue despite the odds and resolve your story’s main conflict against the antagonist or die trying.
4. CLIMAX: Think final battle. One on one. Protagonist vs. Antagonist. Here your protagonist gains triumphant victory over the antagonist in a logical though surprising way which is unique to your protagonist and their special skill/ability/trait during their imminent battle you set up with #1. All your story’s roads lead to this defining moment and is the reason why your story exists.
So how do you separate these four most important C’s of story while linking them into an interesting and logical structure?
2. Complications x 3
And what do you do with them?
Even easier: for each plot point you write a single descriptive sentence.
Now all that’s left is for you to putty your story cracks while fleshing out your six sentences . . . if you so choose to write it. If not then spend another five minutes plotting a new one.