A Series of Essential Events
The main plot is a thread of crucial events that comprise the narrative of what happens within the story (i.e., the cause) and the result (i.e., the effect).
A symbiotic relationship exists between characters, plot, theme, and structure.
- Characters are who experience the story.
- Plot is what happens within the story.
- Theme is why the story matters.
- Structure is how the story is told.
Readers expect stories to unfold based on their pre-established notions gained over a lifetime of reading books and watching films.
The plot follows a logical series of events sequenced by structure.
Intertwining Characters, Plot, and Theme
Given the mixture of characters, plot, and theme within structure, consider these questions:
- Is it clear who is the main character?
- Will readers relate to this character despite her flaws?
- Is the lead pursuing a difficult goal, one that if achieved, will solve the story’s central problem?
- Is it clear who (or what) opposes the lead’s efforts to resolve the story problem, and what will happen if unsuccessful? Check out this post: Villains Are Heroes in Their Stories.
- Do events take place early that create tension, causing readers to engage as their concerns increase for the lead character?
- Do the events create a story problem that captures readers’ attention?
- Does something dramatic happen to the lead character within the novel’s first page or two?
- Do the emotion-laced events in the initial scenes encourage readers to bond with the lead character, experiencing her emotions?
- Are the stakes becoming clear to both the lead character and readers?
- Do the lead’s efforts focus on solving one escalating problem she can’t avoid and balance the mixture of narrative and action?
- Does the lead’s pursuit of a difficult goal create conflicts and tension?
- What does the lead character need to hear, but she doesn’t want to listen to her most trusted friend or mentor?
- Do the challenges and conflicts of pursuing that goal convey the meaning and emotional weight based on how they affect the lead?
- Do the lead’s choices represent one or more dilemmas, ever increasing the story’s tension?
- Does the lead’s pursuit of goal identify an inner issue to be resolved prior in order to solve the story problem?
- Does the lead resist the need to change, but as the story progresses, ultimately sees things differently?
- Will readers learn something from the lead’s struggle that goes beyond entertainment, helping them to deal with real-life issues?
- At the end of the story, does the success or failure of solving the story problem highlight how the lead has changed?
- Does the lead’s backstory trickle out over multiple pages instead of an information-dump?
- Do the scenes show what the lead character needs to know about self?
- Do the scenes allow the characters to show rather than tell the story?
- Do the stakes show the lead faces risks that adversely influence her physically, professionally, and psychologically?