The Ultimate Master Plot Formula . . . or How to Math your Novel

A plethora of plot formulas exist for writers of every genre, too many to count and all of them different in various ways. I’ve presented plenty of them. But the beauty of life is that proven methods evolve and improve through continued use because such is the wonderful wonders of evolution.

So here we’ll go over my evolved Master Plot Formula, the evolved Love Story Subplot Formula, and how to combine them into the Ultimate Master Plot Formula.

(The Evolved Master Plot Formula)

-ACT 1 (Flaw)-

1. Old World Stasis: The Protagonist’s ordinary world of home, work, and social life where stasis = death. Because if nothing changes then they will continue to live their unfulfilling existence. Here you present the Protagonist’s dominating character flaw needing fixed through the exchange of its opposite virtue that will complete them.

2. Inciting Incident: The Protagonist’s first introduction to the central story conflict through a major problem or big opportunity influencing their world in as permanent a way as possible caused by the Antagonist while also establishing the Protagonist’s desire which is dominated by one of three potential outcomes: Possession of something, Relief from something, or Revenge for something. The Inciting Incident also tests the Protagonist’s character flaw, proving its burden upon them though at this point they don’t acknowledge it yet.

3. New World Flux: The conflicted Protagonist strives for balance in their newly disrupted world as they debate what can and should be done about the major problem or big opportunity of the Inciting Incident while clinging to their character flaw.

4. Pressure to Proceed: But people are lazy and tend to avoid conflict by instinct unless necessary, so the Protagonist attempts to avoid the consequences of the Inciting Incident impacting their influenced life, often trying to ignore it while hoping another character deals with it instead, but pressure surmounts until they have no choice but to face it themselves.

5. Physical Crossing: The Protagonist finally decides to act and usually physically leaves their old world of restrictions behind for the new world of possibilities ahead. The Physical Crossing (its parallel scene the Spiritual Crossing) is the link connecting Act 1 and Act 2, and it is a collapsing bridge of No Return. Once this bridge is crossed, the Protagonist cannot return home again until the story’s main conflict is resolved or else they’ll live and even more miserable stasis = death existence.

-ACT 2A (Flaw vs. Virtue)-

6. Things Come Together: The fish-out-of-water Protagonist makes new friends and enemies while shedding old flaws (though not their dominate flaw) for new virtues (or its fulfilling opposite virtue) as they progress toward resolving the central story conflict. Several forms of training also commence, testing the developing Protagonist’s new skills and relationships.

7. Pinch Point: The Antagonist flexes their muscles in a minor way (and usually indirectly through a minion) against the Protagonist, having realized something minor disrupting their ‘evil’ plans.

8. Betrayal Set-up: Someone trusted who is jealous of or dislikes the Protagonist schemes their future ruin behind the scenes.

9. False Victory: Working together as a team, the Protagonist and Allies achieve their biggest success yet toward resolving the central story conflict though not the central conflict itself while earning the full attention of the Antagonist and their frustrated minions. At this point it is clear to both Protagonist and Antagonist that the other is the main obstacle standing in their way to success and needs be removed.

10. Midpoint Twist: A stunning revelation and reversal of fortune causes the momentum shift of the Protagonist from reaction to proaction against the Antagonist.

#’s 7 and 8 are interchangeable depending upon your particular story.

-ACT 2B (Virtue vs. Flaw)-

11. Things Fall Apart: The Protagonist’s team of Allies suffers internal dissension as external enemies close in.

12. Punch Point: The Antagonist flexes their muscles in a major way against the Protagonist.

13. Betrayal Pay-off: The Protagonist is stabbed in the back at the worst moment.

14. False Defeat: Someone dies and/or something precious is taken from the Protagonist during this the Antagonist’s false victory where all seems lost in this the Protagonist’s lowest point thus far.

15. Spiritual Crossing: The depressed Protagonist is struck with the inspirational epiphany to continue one last (and usually suicidal) assault against the Antagonist. The Spiritual Crossing (its parallel scene the Physical Crossing) is the link connecting Act 2 and Act 3. This is another collapsing bridge of No Return, and crossing this bridge makes possible or inevitable the final confrontation between Protagonist and Antagonist as well its resolution of the story’s main conflict.

ACT 3 (Virtue overcomes Flaw)-

16. Tool Up: The determined Protagonist gathers the necessary tools for the task ahead while making amends with Allies and inspiring them into rejoining the cause.

17. False Solution: All remaining subplots outside the Protagonist are resolved as the surviving Allies of the Protagonist and the minions of the Antagonist are eliminated.

18. Separation: The Protagonist is separated from all remaining Allies so they can face the Antagonist one-on-one as only the unique Protagonist can.

19. True Resolution: The Protagonist defeats the Antagonist or dies trying.

20. Aftermath: The immediate effects of the Protagonist’s victory or defeat.

**The Kickers: All Protagonists must achieve character growth throughout and because of the adversity of their story. As the writer it’s your job to “kick” them toward that character growth, and here’s how:

ACT 1 Kicker: Somewhere during Act 1 your Protagonist demonstrates their emotional shield earned from a past traumatic event they carry around to protect them from future harm. Show don’t tell the Protagonist hiding behind the false safety of their emotional shield they have no intention of discarding.

ACT 2A Kicker: Somewhere during the first half of Act 2 either the Protagonist or someone close to the Protagonist notices the hindrance of their emotional shield weighing them down and expresses as much through dialogue, forcing the Protagonist to question the true value of their emotional shield and the scary possibility of living without it.

Midpoint Twist Kicker: Somewhere during the Midpoint Twist the Protagonist battles against maintaining hold of their emotional shield growing heavier as the central story conflict progresses. Here they briefly set the shield aside and for it we catch a glimpse of who they will become without it in a daring display of potential, though this moment is fleeting because they have not yet achieved their full character growth so they pick their emotional shield back up and hide behind it again out of habitual practice.

ACT 2B Kicker: Somewhere during the second half of Act 2 the Protagonist overcomes the heavy burden of their emotional shield, finally lays it down as the false protection they realize it for and steps away from it as a changed character.

ACT 3 Kicker: But change is a scary process, so somewhere during Act 3 the Protagonist briefly regresses and picks up their emotional shield, but now it proves too heavy a burden and doesn’t offer them protection as the changed Protagonist they’ve become so they throw it aside forever and achieve full character growth.

The premise of 99% of love stories is simple: love conquers all. You prove this premise by taking the loveless Protagonist from Hole-hearted in Act 1 to Whole-hearted in Act 3. And you accomplish this puttying of their fractured heart by inserting the Love Interest into their life.

(The Evolved Love Story Subplot Formula)

-ACT 1 (Hole-hearted)-

1. Hole-hearted 1: Introduce the loveless Protagonist.

2. Hole-hearted 2: Introduce the loveless Love Interest.

3. Meet Cute: Protagonist and Love Interest meet for the first time (at least on page, though they may know each other from before during backstory) with shared though unspoken attraction.

4. Never Mind: But their opposing points of view and conflicting personalities divide them.

5. Are You Kidding Me?: Yet they are forced to interact together from here on in, linked by fate and possibly working toward achieving a common goal though through different methods of attack (or, perhaps and rarer, conflicting while each attempts to achieve an opposing goal to the other).

-ACT 2A (Falling in Love)-

6. Whatever: Both Protagonist and Love Interest voice their distaste for the other while working together, and agree to disagree for the sake of the common goal.

7. You Too?: Common bonds and beliefs flourish through their discovery of shared interests.

8. Mutual Attraction: Undeniable temptations fester during several uncomfortable situations they find themselves together in.

9. Sexual Frustrations: Pent sexual frustrations strive for the surface while causing false conflicts between them because both refuse to admit their attractions aloud.

10. Sex at 60: Protagonist and Love Interest surrender to their overwhelming passions and have sex (or for the kiddies share their first kiss) while proclaiming their mutual desires for each other.

-ACT 2B (Retreating from Love)-

11. Sucker Punch: Their personalities conflict, because sex doesn’t fix their opposing methods of attack.

12. Splinter: Deepening doubts of their new relationship burgeon from their misplaced fears as previously shown in Act 1 why they lived loveless in the first place.

13. Fear vs. Love: Both voice their fears of being hurt again to protect their guarded hearts.

14. Projection: Suspicions (especially so those carried from previous failed relationships) prove true — or so they believe while manifesting their fears upon the other. If men always leave her then he leaves her now. If women always cheat then he assumes she has even if she hasn’t.

15. Break Up: They break up while retreating into fear, and usually go their separate ways to achieve the common goal alone.

-ACT 3 (Whole-hearted)-

16. 1 Is The Loneliest Number: Lonely despair intrudes, the bleak world grey and not so bright; both are miserable and incomplete, even worse than when they started.

17. Inspiration: One of them lingers in the clinging grips of fear while the other chooses love over fear and aims to prove it.

18. Grand Gesture: Either the Protagonist or the Love Interest proves to the other through a courageous act that they’ve chosen love regardless the consequences.

19. Whole-hearted: The Protagonist and Love Interest reunite in requited love proving all the stronger because love conquers all.

20. Happily Ever After: Holding hands and kissing during a beautiful sunset, together all that matters, while promises of their future together flourish between the happy couple restored in stronger glory.

*Or the tragic end . . .

17. Epiphany: The despairing Protagonist refuses to accept blame and clings tighter to their flaw deepening into fault as fear dominates. Unrequited love turns to obsession so that they devise a scheme to force the Love Interest into loving them.

18. Errant Gesture: The Protagonist attempts to force the Love Interest into loving them regardless the consequences but the Love Interest refuses.

19. Tortured Soul: The failing Protagonist is driven mad by the Love Interest’s rejection and so lashes out while harming them in some way out of spite, either emotionally, physically, or both (and possibly killing them or causing their death).

20. Unhappily Ever After: The lonely Protagonist flounders in misery, their future bleak.

**I’ve included this slight Tragedy alteration as an alternative to the typical course, though remember that 99% of Love Story Subplots end as Comedy which is why it is the most referenced here, same as Protagonist triumph over Antagonist.

Understand that almost all of these suggested plot points can be written as separate scenes unto themselves though, more usual, plenty of them should be combined. Such as Old World Stasis and Hole-hearted 1, combining both introductions of your Protagonist as is obvious logic because you cannot introduce the Protagonist twice to the reader.

Next you take out your trusty pack of index cards, title them one to each of your scenes, then describe the specific purpose of each scene as according to your particular story in one concise, descriptive sentence per index card.
*I suggest spending at least a week or two on this index card plotting process (spending as much time per day on it as you normally would writing) since through this method you are planting the crux of your novel’s Mother Root from which everything of its story branches and blooms. I also suggest making doubles and triples of each index card so you can arrange and rearrange them while eliminating the bad ideas which are usually the first ones that come to your mind. Remember: the first ideas that come to your mind while plotting might parallel the first presumptions that come to the reader’s mind while reading, and that removes all unpredictability from your story. Nothing ruins a story more than being able to guess what happens next before it happens.

Now you’re going to math your novel.
And how do you accomplish that?
Decide upon then take your novel’s desired total word count, divide it by your total number of scenes, and there you’ll have an estimated word count per scene as well a good expectation of how long it will take you to finish writing that pesky first draft.
And remember to stick to the #1 rule of assured writing productivity: Write first, Edit last.
Most writers fail through incomplete manuscripts because they’ll spend a couple hours each session writing then spend twice as many going back and editing everything they’ve just written. But you can always edit later once your first draft is finished. And you need to acknowledge that editing your manuscript before its first draft is even finished is futile at best. Changes you make now you may and probably will have to revise again because something inspiring only occurs to you several chapters later. Don’t spin your wheels. Write and keep writing and don’t look back until your first draft is finished. Only then should you edit . . . which will be all the easier once you put all those words to page.
Adhere to the absolute law of sure writing progress: write at least 1,000 words per day, every day, because diligence is the skeleton key to unlocking the finished novel.

But let’s rehash a moment, shall we?
Aristotle claimed all stories can be categorized and condensed as either Comedy (happy ending) or Tragedy (sad ending).
First, decide your Protagonist’s dominant character flaw and thus its opposing virtue.
Now, decide if your story is a Comedy (and most common; the Protagonist makes the most significant change in terms of their dominant flaw, and thus they learn and embrace its opposing virtue in the end) or a Tragedy (and least common; the Protagonist fails to change from their flaw most significantly and therefore fails to gain their potential virtue in the end because they embrace their opposing flaw ever tighter into fault).
Now decide the outcome of their Love Story Subplot, if they “get the girl” at the end (Comedy; and most common) or “lose the girl” at the end (Tragedy; and least common).
In basic terms your Protagonist’s main character arc is either from Flaw to Virtue (Comedy) or from Flaw to Fault (Tragedy), and your Protagonist’s Love Story Subplot character arc is either from Hole-hearted to Whole-hearted (Comedy) or from Hole-hearted to Tortured Soul (Tragedy).
But remember, these two options provide multiple outcomes and just because you choose Comedy for your Protagonist’s main character arc does not mean you must also choose Comedy as their Love Story Subplot arc. You can choose both character arcs as Comedies, or both as Tragedies, or a combination of Comedy and Tragedy. Like so:

-Example A: Comedy (the Protagonist achieves the story goal and ends up better off than when they started)-
1. main character arc: Comedy
2. subplot character arc: Comedy

-Example B: Comi-tragedy (the Protagonist achieves the story goal but ends up worse off than when they started)-
1. main character arc: Comedy
2. subplot character arc: Tragedy

-Example C: Tragi-comedy (the Protagonist fails to achieve the story goal but ends up better off than when they started)-
1. main character arc: Tragedy
2. subplot character arc: Comedy

-Example D: tragic outcome (the Protagonist fails to achieve the story goal and ends up worse off than when they started)-
1. main character arc: Tragedy
2. subplot character arc: Tragedy

Goals are important because they provide you a finish line to travel toward.
And you accomplish this by mathing your novel then dividing and conquering it.
First we choose an approximate total word count for your novel-to-be. For this example we’ll work with 80,000 total words because that provides a nice average length of novel.
Next we divide that intimidating 80,000 total word count into four smaller writing chunks:

Act 1: 20,000
Act 2A: 20,000
Act 2B: 20,000
Act 3: 20,000

Then we divide these into eight even smaller writing segments:

-Act 1-
1. Old World Stasis: 10,000
2. New World Flux: 10,000

-Act 2A-
3. Things Come Together: 10,000
4. False Victory: 10,000

-Act 2B-
5. Things Fall Apart: 10,000
6. False Defeat: 10,000

-Act 3-
7. False Solution: 10,000
8. True Resolution: 10,000

Now we divide these into even smaller plot points:

-Act 1-
1. Old World Stasis: 4,000
2. Inciting Incident: 4,000
3. New World Flux: 4,000
4. Pressure to Proceed: 4,000
5. Physical Crossing: 4,000

-Act 2A-
6. Things Come Together: 4,000
7. Pinch Point: 4,000
8. Betrayal Set-up: 4,000
9. False Victory: 4,000
10. Midpoint Twist: 4,000

-Act 2B-
11. Things Fall Apart: 4,000
12. Punch Point: 4,000
13. Betrayal Pay-off: 4,000
14. False Defeat: 4,000
15. Spiritual Crossing: 4,000

-Act 3-
16. Tool Up: 4,000
17. False Solution: 4,000
18. Separation: 4,000
19. True Resolution: 4,000
20. Aftermath: 4,000

Lastly we add the integral Kickers as well interweave the Love Story Subplot while dividing this conglomeration of our promising story into the smallest writing scenes.
Also, we don’t forget to add a few scenes from the Antagonist’s point of view unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective because there’s nothing worse than a static, unrelatable Antagonist, as well remember that if your Protagonist’s main story is Comedy then your Antagonist’s story is Tragedy.

The Ultimate Master Plot Formula

(M = main plot, K = Kickers, S = subplot, and A = Antagonist P.O.V.)

-ACT 1 (Flaw / Hole-hearted)-

1. (M) Old World Stasis: The Protagonist’s ordinary world of home, work, and social life where stasis = death. Because if nothing changes then they will continue to live their unfulfilling existence. Here you present the Protagonist’s dominating character flaw needing fixed through the exchange of its opposite virtue that will complete them.

2. (S) Hole-hearted 1: Introduce the loveless Protagonist.

3. (K) Act 1 Kicker: Somewhere during Act 1 your Protagonist demonstrates their emotional shield earned from a past traumatic event they carry around to protect them from future harm. Show don’t tell the Protagonist hiding behind the false safety of their emotional shield they have no intention of discarding.

4. (S) Hole-hearted 2: Introduce the loveless Love Interest.

5. (M) Inciting Incident: The Protagonist’s first introduction to the central story conflict through a major problem or big opportunity influencing their world in as permanent a way as possible caused by the Antagonist while also establishing the Protagonist’s desire which is dominated by one of three potential outcomes: Possession of something, Relief from something, or Revenge for something. The Inciting Incident also tests the Protagonist’s character flaw, proving its burden upon them though at this point they don’t acknowledge it yet.

6. (M) New World Flux: The conflicted Protagonist strives for balance in their newly disrupted world as they debate what can and should be done about the major problem or big opportunity of the Inciting Incident while clinging to their character flaw.

7. (S) Meet Cute: Protagonist and Love Interest meet for the first time (at least on page, though they may know each other from before during backstory) with shared though unspoken attraction.

8. (S) Never Mind: But the Protagonist’s and Love Interest’s opposing points of view and conflicting personalities divide them.

9. (M) Pressure to Proceed: But people are lazy and tend to avoid conflict by instinct unless necessary, so the Protagonist attempts to avoid the consequences of the Inciting Incident impacting their influenced life, often trying to ignore it while hoping another character deals with it instead, but pressure surmounts until they have no choice but to face it themselves.

10. (S) Are You Kidding Me?: Yet the Protagonist and Love Interest are forced to interact together from here on in, linked by fate and possibly working toward achieving a common goal though through different methods of attack (or, perhaps and rarer, conflicting while each attempts to achieve an opposing goal to the other).

11. (M) Physical Crossing: The Protagonist finally decides to act and usually physically leaves their old world of restrictions behind for the new world of possibilities ahead. The Physical Crossing (its parallel scene the Spiritual Crossing) is the link connecting Act 1 and Act 2, and it is a collapsing bridge of No Return. Once this bridge is crossed, the Protagonist cannot return home again until the story’s main conflict is resolved or else they’ll live and even more miserable stasis = death existence.

12. (A) Antagonist P.O.V. 1: The Antagonist’s point of view and their ongoing plans unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective; their reaction to and action against the Protagonist’s current progress.

-ACT 2A (Flaw vs. Virtue / Falling in Love)-

13. (M) Things Come Together: The fish-out-of-water Protagonist makes new friends and enemies while shedding old flaws (though not their dominate flaw) for new virtues (or its fulfilling opposite virtue) as they progress toward resolving the central story conflict. Several forms of training also commence, testing the developing Protagonist’s new skills and relationships.

14. (S) Whatever: Both Protagonist and Love Interest voice their distaste for the other while working together, and agree to disagree for the sake of the common goal.

15. (K) Act 2A Kicker: Somewhere during the first half of Act 2 either the Protagonist or someone close to the Protagonist notices the hindrance of their emotional shield weighing them down and expresses as much through dialogue, forcing the Protagonist to question the true value of their emotional shield and the scary possibility of living without it.

16. (S) You Too?: Common bonds and beliefs flourish through the Protagonist’s and Love Interest’s discovery of shared interests.

17. (A) Antagonist P.O.V. 2: The Antagonist’s point of view and their ongoing plans unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective; their reaction to and action against the Protagonist’s current progress.

18. (M) Pinch Point: The Antagonist flexes their muscles in a minor way (and usually indirectly through a minion) against the Protagonist, having realized something minor disrupting their ‘evil’ plans.

19. (S) Mutual Attraction: Undeniable temptations fester during several uncomfortable situations the Protagonist and Love Interest find themselves together in.

20. (M) Betrayal Set-up: Someone trusted who is jealous of or dislikes the Protagonist schemes their future ruin behind the scenes.

21. (S) Sexual Frustrations: Pent sexual frustrations strive for the surface while causing false conflicts between Protagonist and Love Interest because both refuse to admit their attractions aloud.

22. (M) False Victory: Working together as a team, the Protagonist and Allies achieve their biggest success yet toward resolving the central story conflict though not the central conflict itself while earning the full attention of the Antagonist and their frustrated minions. At this point it is clear to both Protagonist and Antagonist that the other is the main obstacle standing in their way to success and needs be removed.

23. (S) Sex at 60: Protagonist and Love Interest surrender to their overwhelming passions and have sex (or for the kiddies share their first kiss) while proclaiming their mutual desires for each other.

24. (M) Midpoint Twist: A stunning revelation and reversal of fortune causes the momentum shift of the Protagonist from reaction to proaction against the Antagonist.

25. (K) Midpoint Twist Kicker: Somewhere during the Midpoint Twist the Protagonist battles against maintaining hold of their emotional shield growing heavier as the central story conflict progresses. Here they briefly set the shield aside and for it we catch a glimpse of who they will become without it in a daring display of potential, though this moment is fleeting because they have not yet achieved their full character growth so they pick their emotional shield back up and hide behind it again out of habitual practice.

-ACT 2B (Virtue vs. Flaw / Retreating from Love)-

26. (A) Antagonist P.O.V. 3: The Antagonist’s point of view and their ongoing plans unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective; their reaction to and action against the Protagonist’s current progress.

27. (S) Sucker Punch: The Protagonist’s and Love Interest’s personalities conflict, because sex doesn’t fix their opposing methods of attack.

28. (M) Things Fall Apart: The Protagonist’s team of Allies suffers internal dissension as external enemies close in.

29. (S) Splinter: Deepening doubts of their new relationship burgeon from the Protagonist’s and Love Interest’s misplaced fears as previously shown in Act 1 why they lived loveless in the first place.

30. (S) Fear vs. Love: Both Protagonist and Love Interest voice their fears of being hurt again to protect their guarded hearts.

31. (S) Projection: Suspicions (especially so those carried from previous failed relationships) prove true — or so the Protagonist and Love Interest believe while manifesting their fears upon the other. If men always leave her then he leaves her now. If women always cheat then he assumes she has even if she hasn’t.

32. (M) Punch Point: The Antagonist flexes their muscles in a major way against the Protagonist.

33. (M) Betrayal Pay-off: The Protagonist is stabbed in the back at the worst moment.

34. (S) Break Up: The Protagonist and Love Interest break up while retreating into fear, and usually go their separate ways to achieve the common goal alone.

35. (M) False Defeat: Someone dies and/or something precious is taken from the Protagonist during this the Antagonist’s false victory where all seems lost in this the Protagonist’s lowest point thus far.

36. (A) Antagonist P.O.V. 4: The Antagonist’s point of view and their ongoing plans unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective; their reaction to and action against the Protagonist’s current progress.

37. (K) Act 2B Kicker: Somewhere during the second half of Act 2 the Protagonist overcomes the heavy burden of their emotional shield, finally lays it down as the false protection they realize it for and steps away from it as a changed character.

38. (M) Spiritual Crossing: The depressed Protagonist is struck with the inspirational epiphany to continue one last (and usually suicidal) assault against the Antagonist. The Spiritual Crossing (its parallel scene the Physical Crossing) is the link connecting Act 2 and Act 3. This is another collapsing bridge of No Return, and crossing this bridge makes possible or inevitable the final confrontation between Protagonist and Antagonist as well its resolution of the story’s main conflict.

-ACT 3 (Virtue overcomes Flaw / Whole-hearted)-

39. (S) 1 is the Loneliest Number: Lonely despair intrudes, the bleak world grey and not so bright; both Protagonist and Love Interest are miserable and incomplete, even worse than when they started.

40. (S) Inspiration: One of them (Protagonist or Love Interest) lingers in the clinging grips of fear while the other chooses love over fear and aims to prove it.

41. (M) Tool Up: The determined Protagonist gathers the necessary tools for the task ahead while making amends with Allies and inspiring them into rejoining the cause.

42. (A) Antagonist P.O.V. 5: The Antagonist’s point of view and their ongoing plans unfiltered by the Protagonist’s biased perspective; their reaction to and action against the Protagonist’s current progress.

43. (M) False Solution: All remaining subplots outside the Protagonist are resolved as the surviving Allies of the Protagonist and the minions of the Antagonist are eliminated.

44. (S) Grand Gesture: Either the Protagonist or the Love Interest proves to the other through a courageous act that they’ve chosen love regardless the consequences.

45. (S) Whole-hearted: The Protagonist and Love Interest reunite in requited love proving all the stronger because love conquers all.

46. (M) Separation: The Protagonist is separated from all remaining Allies so they can face the Antagonist one-on-one as only the unique Protagonist can.

47. (K) Act 3 Kicker: But change is a scary process, so somewhere during Act 3 the Protagonist briefly regresses and picks up their emotional shield, but now it proves too heavy a burden and doesn’t offer them protection as the changed Protagonist they’ve become so they throw it aside forever and achieve full character growth.

48. (M) True Resolution: The Protagonist defeats the Antagonist or dies trying.

49. (M) Aftermath: The immediate effects of the Protagonist’s victory or defeat.

50. (S) Happily Ever After: Holding hands and kissing during a beautiful sunset, together all that matters, while promises of the Protagonist’s and Love Interest’s future together flourish between the happy couple restored in stronger glory.

*Please note that your unique plot formula will be different depending on your particular story’s application, its order of scenes and chapters, its pace and flow, as well the characters and events involved. My example is only for ease of reference. Also note that some of the exampled scenes will and should be combined, again depending on your particular story, and that you may choose fewer or more Antagonist point of view scenes to inject into your unique master plot formula.

So . . . 80,000 total words divided by 50 scenes = 1,600 words per scene.
If you commit yourself to writing just one scene per day that’s 50 days from plotted outline (remember those trusty index cards!) to finished first draft. After which you return to page one and begin meticulous editing, also working on at least one scene per day for another 50 days.
100 days from start to finish ain’t so bad.
(But let’s say you’re a busy beaver working two jobs while maintaining a house full of rambunctious kids, and that 1,600 words per day is just too much to squeeze into your packed schedule even after going to sleep a half hour later each night and waking up a half hour earlier each morning to grant you that precious one hour of writing per day. Okay, then split the 1,600 difference while breaking the 1,000 words minimum per day rule though sticking to it as close as you can and write half a scene per day at 800 words. This still allows you 100 days for a finished first draft and 200 days for the edited final draft).
Don’t forget: even at writing only 1,000 words per day, this allows any diligent writer to complete the first draft of a 365,000-word novel per year. Suddenly all those tired excuses as to why your puny-by-comparison 80,000-word novel remains unfinished cling to your tongue unspoken, huh?
And when you’re done you’ll wonder why it takes some authors so long to write their darn novels (here’s looking at you Patrick Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin).

As to that last bit . . . here’s a parting rant on authors who write series:
I have to say this because it’s a festering irritation that’s been stuck in my craw for years not just as a writer but more so a reader.
Some writers spend a ridiculous amount of time between novels, and worse they often lash out at their fans while claiming they owe them nothing after asked when the next novel in their beloved series is coming out.
In 2009, Neil Gaiman informed a fan that “writers and artists aren’t machines” and George R. R. Martin was “not your bitch” for having spent years writing the fifth Game of Thrones book, A Dance with Dragons (which wouldn’t be published for another two).
Others have also defended Patrick Rothfuss in similar fashion (especially so his taint-licking sycophants) while labeling his curious fans as ‘entitled’ and ‘undeserving’. Before Patrick published The Name of the Wind in 2007, the first novel in his Kingkiller Chronicle series, he made the mistake of boasting the trilogy already finished and stated it would be published with a year between each novel. This proved bad form while inviting deserved criticism because many of his readers only bought his first novel because of his promise (a lot of readers prefer to wait until a series is finished before investing their time and money because nobody wants to read an unfinished series . . . or fear that the elder author or reader will die before the series is completed — yes, this is a thing).
Patrick has also yelled at and cussed out several of his fans publicly just for asking about his next book, and even told one to “Fuck off” between wasting his time tweeting or streaming video games online instead of actually writing. His sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, was published in 2011, and the final novel in his Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy, pending title Doors of Stone, has yet to be released — it’s been over 10 years as I write this since the second novel, and over 14 since the first.
It’s understandable to spend a few years between writing novels, especially so those of longer than average lengths such as with typical fantasy tomes, but 10 or more?
You’re a writer! What the hell are you doing all day if you’re not writing?
Procrastinating writers like George R. R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss have become running internet jokes because of the ridiculous amounts of time they spend between published novels in their series. If you don’t believe me then just type Pat’s name into the urban dictionary and you’ll get the following definition: “A person who starts a great thing but can never finish it. In other words, the worst kind of asshole.”
There are, of course, revered writers contrary to Pat’s and George’s lazy ilk such as Brandon Sanderson who not only appreciate their fans but also prove themselves the diligent workhorse (Brandon not only finished Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, he churns out great novels and multiple series like they’re going out of style).
So not to pick on Neil or Pat or George too much more . . . but yes, you arrogant douchebags, you do owe your fans, because without their loyal and monetary support you wouldn’t have a career. Choke down some humble pie, stop being such miserable pricks about the profession you chose to pursue in life, and be thankful anybody even cares about the interesting lies you call story.
You are living the dream 99% of other writers aspire to: being able to write full-time while its wealth supports and sustains you.
As a writer, when you publish the first novel in a series you enter a silent pact with your readers that you will continue writing and eventually finish your series in a timely manner out of respect to your readers. Your fans spend their hard-earned money on and their precious time reading your work when they don’t have to, because there are a million other novels out there to read but they chose yours.
I point this out because plot formulas are proof that if you spend an exorbitant amount of years between novels in your series then you are being just plain lazy and unappreciative. And worse, you’re proving that you obviously don’t care about the fans who made you. As a result you and only you are responsible for turning once-loyal fans away who out of understandable spite vow never to waste their money buying or their time reading anything by you ever again, let alone the bad word of mouth they spread about your unappreciative laziness to other potential readers.
Sure you’re the one doing all the writing work, and yes that takes time, but without readers you’re just a nobody writing shit that never gets read.
So the next time someone asks you when the next novel in your series is coming out, instead of yelling at them to “Fuck off” like a miserable douchebag, be grateful and thank them for caring.

(*note: I don’t know Neil or Pat or George personally, nor have I ever met any of them because I’m a reclusive hermit, and I know it may seem as if I’m picking on Pat especially, but I do so because he is the perfect example of how not to treat your fans. And if Pat in particular ever reads this . . . know that I would take great satisfaction in bitch-slapping you upside your bearded Hagrid-from-Harry-Potter-looking face if I ever do run into you if only because of the terrible way you treat your readers).

The only thing that pisses me off more than squandered talent is those who rudely dismiss its praises from adulating others who adore it.
Writers write.
It’s what we do because our writing passion is an integral part of who we are as human beings.
And as The Rock has so eloquently said, “Know your role and shut your mouth!”

End rant.

adronjsmitley.blogspot.com

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Blog for writers on everything plot, character, and story structure architecture at: adronjsmitley.blogspot.com

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Adron J. Smitley

Blog for writers on everything plot, character, and story structure architecture at: adronjsmitley.blogspot.com