One of the greatest things about being a writer is that you’re always learning, your writing style and process is always evolving. I wanted to share the method I use to develop character plot lines. An amalgamation of things I’ve learned over the years, it’s a quick and simple, yet efficient and direct process that gets the work done. I believe it covers all the key points needed to develop a complete plot line for any character.
Without 9 years of explanation, here it is >
- GOAL: What does the character want?
- MOTIVE: Why do they want it?
- STAKES: What’s in danger of being lost?
- ANCHOR: Why can’t the character just walk away or give-up on their goal? (deeper than the motive)
- PLAN: How does the character plan to achieve their goal? (typically a 3 step plan – 1 > 2 > 3 > Goal).
- EVENT 1: Action, Obstacle, Resolution (the character’s attempt to carry out the 1st step of their plan)
- EVENT 2: Action, Obstacle, Resolution (next step of their plan based on success/failure of previous step)
- EVENT 3: Action, Obstacle, Resolution (last step of their plan based on success/failure of previous step)
- RESOLUTION: How does the character ultimately succeed or fail to achieve their goal?
- CONSEQUENCES: What are the immediate effects of the resolution?
- AFTERMATH: What are the long-term effects of the consequences?
- CHARACTER ARC: How is the character mentally and physically effected or changed by what has transpired?
GOAL, MOTIVE, STAKES, ANCHOR, PLAN – Plot Foundation: This is where the character is coming from, what drives them, and how they plan to succeed.
EVENT 1, EVENT 2, EVENT 3 – Actual Turn of Events: This is what actually happens as the character attempts to carry out their plan. These serve as the 3 main points of a plot line. This section is really fun because depending on how your character achieves or fails each event, they may need to change parts of their plan or abandon it all together and totally divert to something else along the way.
RESOLUTION, CONSEQUENCE, AFTERMATH, CHARACTER ARC – Plot Resolution: Win or lose, Success or Failure, this is the end of the characters plot line.