When I started writing I use to often wonder what a plot was. It gave me nightmares that my stories may not have much of a plot. Then, came the crucial question, what was or is a plot? Does plot just happen? Is plot a result of the different scenes tied up in a proper narrative order? Do I have to create a plot? Or will a plot just emerge at the end of the story, after the scenes have been arranged in a proper order. I use to hope that there would be someone who would answer all my plot questions.
As I wrote more and more, I realized that we have to work hard to create an engrossing plot that will keep readers sticking to the story, page after page.
When I read James Scott Bell’s book- Plot & Structure, all my plot worries fell away. Its the first writing craft book I bought. Scott has come up with an amazing and simple structure that when applied to our stories will help us come up with a solid plot everytime. I realized after reading his book, that plots can be worked to perfection at the initial stage of drafting the stories.
This system by Scott is a simple set of foundational principles called the LOCK system.
LOCK stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation and Knockout.
Scott writes that a strong plot starts with an interesting lead character, a compelling someone we have to watch throughout the course of the story/novel.
Then he talks about the one and only one dominant objective for the lead character. Objective is a want or a desire that the character has. This forms the “Story Question” will the Lead realize her Objective. An objective can take either of two forms:to get something or to get away from something.
Scott advises that Confrontation is crucial to the story. Opposition from other characters and external forces bring stories to life. We have to constantly throw obstacles into our lead’s path and not make things easy for her or him.
After all the pages we have put our readers through, our stories must have the Knockout power to satisfy readers. Great endings not just satisfy readers, but also make them happy.
When a story idea pops into our mind, we can apply this system to see whether the story has enough power to fuel the pages.
I have now decided to keep the LOCK in mind whenever a story idea pops into my mind. This will give me a sense of whether the story is worthy of all the time I spend on it. Do you work with the LOCK system in mind? Or do you have another method of creating that great plot. Please share your method with us. We all can learn from it.