If you don’t know, Jenna Moreci is a Youtuber and indie author (and an uber awesome person). She’s pieced together a method of plotting (from other methods she had come across herself) that sounded so perfect to me, I had to add it to the repository.
Disclaimer: Everything below is either a paraphrasing of the video or a direct quote (even if it does not have quotations around it).
“A structure is the framework of your novel. It puts all of your plot points together to make sure it fits into a proper beginning, middle and end.” – Jenna
Act 1: The Beginning
The shortest act of the novel.
#1 – A Look Into the Future
As taste of what readers can expect later in the book.
For example: if you’re writing action/adventure, you might open with a gunfight. Jenna’s books are usually violent, so she usually opens with something violent so that her readers know what they’re getting themselves into.
Evaluate the overall tone of your story and give your readers a taste of it at the beginning.
#2 – Normal Life
Life as it is. Keep this brief to not bore the reader.
#3 – Establish Desire
What does your main character want or need in their normal life? This will make your main character’s life more interesting because you’re setting stakes. It doesn’t matter if the desire established ends up becoming irrelevant later on in the book, in fact this happens quite a lot. But you should establish something missing in their life or something they’re aspiring towards.
#4 – Introduce the Dilemma
What is the main character’s problem? This ultimately triggers the inciting incident. Most of the time, the dilemma is related to the character’s wants and needs. For example, in “The Savior’s Champion”, Tobias needs money to support his family. However, his dilemma is that the only way to get a ton of money is to enter the Sovereign’s Tournament. And if he enters and is selected, he is probably going to die. Sometimes establishing desire & introducing the dilemma can occur at the same time.
#5 – Main Character Takes Action (inciting incident)
Some people consider the dilemma the inciting incident. Jenna believes the inciting incident is when the character decides to take action or they’re thrust into action towards their dilemma. Either way, they’re taking the first step to rectify the situation which sets the whole plot into motion.
Act 2 – The Meat
#6 – In Over their Head
This is the point when the main character realizes that everything is way harder than they expected. They’re trying to tackle their dilemma head on and they realize it sucks.
#7 – Blunders
This is where the main character effs up. Probably a lot. This is where they try to manage their dilemma and fail. Either because they’re not strong enough, smart enough, they don’t know what they’re doing or they don’t have the allies to help them.
#8 – Learning
Forced adaptation. This is where the main character gets sick of messing up so much, so they force themselves to analyze and adapt to their situation. This may include training montages. It may include making allies. It may include spying and observation. In any case, this is where your main character realizes their ineptitude and tries to figure out a way to get better.
#9 – The First Win
The learning pays off and the character has their first win. This could be a career win, a personal win, a romantic win, a fighting win, etc. This would come at the perfect time because otherwise your book would be a downer. Your character just had blunder after blunder and your book can’t just be a series of progressively worse failures. You’re giving the character a win to prove to the reader there is hope.
#10 – The Perspective Shift
People start viewing the character differently. Readers start viewing the character differently. Hell, the character probably views themselves differently. This is the start of the main character questioning themselves, who they are, and where they stand.
Act 3: Things Get Wild
#11 – Threat Worsens
Whenever the main character succeeds, the villain gets pissed. Whenever the main character succeeds, you need to up the stakes. Now shit just got worse, sometimes as a direct result of the success.
#12 – Struggle
The main character is struggling to deal with the worsening threat. There may be some wins along the way, but they’re getting harder to achieve and the character is really dealing with the weight of the threat.
#13 – A Major Loss
Something terrible happens, that leads to…
#14 – The Breaking Point
They suffered a major loss and now they’re not feeling so confident. This usually causes them to make bad decisions. You need this low point because it will make the high of the climax that much more exciting.
#15 – Wallow
Main character may be feeling grief, remorse or anger. They may have accepted that they lost and that they’re a failure.
#16 – The Redemption
Crawls out of their pit of despair and decides to redeem themselves. The key here is to give them a reason for this redemption. Usually it relates to having one last chance to achieve their goals. Or maybe realizing that things have gotten way worse and someone has to take action, so it might as well be them.
#17 – The Almost
This is when the main character almost loses.
#18 – The Climax
The main character faces their dilemma head on.
#19 – The Fallout
Typically the climax of a story can be very revealing. It can reveal secrets, hidden agendas, or lies. The fallout is when the characters regroup to ask questions and provide explanations.
#20 – Resolution
Where the main problem is resolved. The resolution can be something as simple as a kiss between lovers or as complicated as a peace treaty between planets. Ultimately your character should find some semblance of self-acceptance by this stage. They finally feel at peace with their choices at least to some degree, which will provide a sense of closure for them and the reader.
Posts in Series:
- Part 1: Writing Method: Snowflake by Randy Ingermanson (Printable Summaries)
- Part 2: Writing Method: 7-Point System by Dan Wells (Printable Summaries)
- Part 3: Writing Method: Writing into the Dark (Pantsers) by Dean Wesley Smith
- Part 4: Writing Method: Making a Mess by Me 🙂
- Part 5: Writing Method: 3 Act/9 Block/27 Chapter Outline by Kat O’Keeffe (Printable Summaries)
- Part 6: Writing Method: Plot Structure by Jenna Moreci (Printable Worksheets)