How does understanding RISING ACTION can help YOU build a better PLOT?

So, what’s this rising action anyway? We’ve been talking about it sometime before, we said it had to do with the conflict the character is facing, right? So let’s dive deeper into this narrative idea to see if it can help us in anyway when facing a new story, okay?

In simple terms, rising action is a series of obstacles the character faces when pursuing a goal. It mostly comes down to the antagonist trying to stop the protagonist from achieving the objective, but we can also divide this obstacles into two main categories.

External, consider it as any obstacle coming from outside sources, that means outside the protagonist.

Internal, consider it as any obstacle coming from inside the character, from his own life and way of being.

Now, as a general scheme, we can consider rising action as follows:

First, the main character wants something. Then some obstacle, may be a thing, a character or their own flaws get in the way of said character, gets in the way of the one thing the character wants.

So, the protagonist overcomes a rising set of obstacles, encountering larger and larger ones while moving towards the objective. This happens every time until the protagonist reaches a place where there’s a chance to get what’s desired.

Not too complicated, right? Desire, obstacle, conflict… these are the elements that you will find in rising action and they’re important to have into consideration when thinking about a story, a sequence or even a scene. This is  because, having the idea in mind that every movement driven by desire will meet obstacles in their way to a climax, a chance to fullfil the desire, will certainly make your writing and conflict build better. So, just go with it!

5 simple QUESTIONS to get you started with CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.

I know, everytime hearing something like “simple” or “fast” a natural inclination to distrust leads us to think there must be some catch, right? Well, you’re not far from the truth there, there are no easy ways into doing complex things, this much we all know. However! 5 simple questions can actually help you start your journey into the character, same way as a premise can start a journey into a plot!

So let’s dive into these questions one at a time in order to build our characters! First one is…

What do they want?

Okay, so this question can be summarized in two aspects of a character’s motivation, this is because what they want is what brings them into action, and is composed of two distinctive traits.

  • Desire, is a concrete goal the character wants to achieve.
  • Need, is a change of personality, of the inner core of the character that needs to be accepted, fixed or changed entirely.

What are their weaknesses?

A weakness makes a character more interesting, it gives us an inside about his life, past and way of making choices. The weakness is the primordial obstacle the character has to face in order to complete the story.

A general rule of thumb is to make the weaknesses more interesting than the character’s strenghts.

Where are they going?

This is a tricky question, it has everything to do with the first one. Stablishing the character’s need and desire first gives you an idea of where the character is headed, so now it’s time to think about the endgame for this journey.

It’s not only to know where the story physicaly ends or wether or not the character is gonna achieve the goal. Ask yourself, how hard are they going to try to get what they want, how resilient are they against the obstacles in their paths.

What can your characters do to surprise you?

This is about creativity, is a question about finding ways to make your characters more resourseful in their ways of acting.

When a character surprises you, encourage him by following him instead of trying to lead them.

So there you have it, five really interesting questions to make you think about your character, to make you connect with them in a more personal way, but also to start thinking of them as more than people, but as narrative devices and as part of a story, of a design.

Okay, that’s it for today, next time we’ll dive into rising action to figure out why it’s so important for the story and as a valuable concept on writing!

How thinking about CHARACTERS can actually improve your PLOT?

There’s an old sayin’ in storytelling:

Character + Action = Plot

Well, looks more like a mathematical proposition, but the important thing is that it tells a critical point about writing stories, characters drive the action and the result of their movement is the actual plot.

John Gardner, the famous american writer, often said that there are actually only two kinds of plot.

  • Someone goes on a journey.
  • A stranger comes to town.

Was he out of imagination when coining this idea? Not sure, but! He’s not far from the truth. What he’s actually saying is that stories involve the movement of certain character.

  • Someone goes on a journey implies a movement to the exterior, into the unknown, a character going away.
  • A stranger comes to town involves the unknown coming into the familiar by the hand of a new character entering a familiar world.

Now, maybe Gardner only knew about the hero’s journey, I don’t know. Nowadays I feel we can find a different approach to storytelling in structures such as the virgin’s promise, which is more an inner journey (something we’ll definitely talk about later!). But the important thing to take from his words are the connection between a drive character (the one who acts) and the plot, which comes from this movement.

Another genius of storytelling, Hayao Miyasaki, has two phrases that can shade some light on this matter:

  • What drives action is the WILL of the characters.
  • You don’t depict fate, you depict WILL.

Now, what is this will thing he keeps talking about? Simply put is the combination of a character’s desire and the drive to achieve this desire. A character wants something and goes into action to achieve this goal, the resulting path or journey drawn in the sands of time is what we often call plot.

You liked that last reflection? Pretty neat, uh? Let’s join next time to talk about ways of thinking about characters, since they seem so important to storytelling!

And remember… GO WRITE!!

How GUSTAV FREYTAG’S Pyramid scheme can help YOU have a clearer overview of a STORY?

Simplicity, that’s the word ur looking for right now. Gustav Freytag’s pyramid must be the most elementary, yet deceitfully helpful map to think about a story. It’s composed of seven distinctive plot points that are often called the seven key steps to any story.

So, which are the they?

  • Exposition
  • Inciting incident
  • Rising action
  • Climax
  • Falling action
  • Resolution
  • Denouement

Now, let’s go one by one to try and figure out what do they mean, but also how to approach them in the best possible way! U in? Let’s go!

Exposition

I know, the word itself sounds boring. Many people think or rather feel that exposition is the cancer of stories, well maybe in dialogue! Truth is, without due exposition there can’t be any story. So, what is this thing anyway? It’s the initial important background information that the reader/viewer must know in order to understand what’s coming next.

It’s composed by:

  • Setting, or the world in which the story happens. It’s the physical grounds of the whole thing, but also the culture and society.
  • Previous events, facts or actions that happened before the beginning of the story, but that they’re relevant for us to know moving forward.
  • Backstory, this is also referred to as the background of characters. Now, don’t go too far in building this backstory, limit urself to write only those aspects of a character that can help ur story move forward (only those things that are relevant for the story!).

Inciting incident

This is the first major event in the story, the first true plot twist! An event that kicks off the action. The idea is for it to give us information about the main conflict that’s gonna happen later on and also may function as the protagonist introduction (not an obligation!).

Rising action

This concept is not necessarily a single plot point, rather a series of events building towards the climax of the story. In classic storytelling, it’s composed of many obstacles that the antagonist puts in the protagonist way to prevent him from achieving a goal at the climax, but also from the continued efforts from the protagonist to keep moving towards this goal or objective.

Climax

We’ve often heard about this idea of a climax, the point of maximum tension on a story. It’s the single most important event on the entire structure and, since the beginning of the story, all the action should lead, one way or another, up to this point. So, the idea is to set it up by building ur rising action up to this point.

Yet there’s another part about the climax that is worth keeping in mind. When thinking about character, the climax should be the moment of a mayor revelation. A point in which, with his/her back against the wall, the protagonist show’s us who he/she really is.

Falling action

This is often called the fallout that comes after the climax. It’s a moment in which tension is cleared and revelations or reflections about the conflict happen. In modern storytelling, this is the part where the protagonist learns the true meaning of his/her quest and gets to understand the cost of their actions.

Resolution

Simply put, this is the part of the story where the protagonist solves the main conflict or problem that was posed in the inciting incident, the objective is cleared!

Denouement

The ending of the story, where any remaining mystery or questions surrounding the plot are answered. In filmmaking there’s a long tradition of using the denouement to present what it’s called a metaphoric scene, one that poetically gives us a sense of the deeper meaning of the story.

Simple enough, isn’t it? So now u can actually visualize ur story by simply imagining these seven key steps to structure ur story in a way that gives order and sense of motion to the plot! Really cool, uh? So, next we’ll be diving the relationship between plot and character, are u up for it?

Best of lucks and remember… GO WRITE!

Is it true that planning your PLOT can make your story better?

True? I don’t know. I mean… How can we even know if one thing is better than other? We would have to figure out some sort of context by which compare different things, right?

For example, what sounds better? Going out with no real place in mind to go to? or going out knowing exactly where you have to go?

I mean, in both cases it’s not guaranteed that you’re gonna get to the destination. Maybe you meet some obstacle that doesn’t let you pass along the way. Things happen, okay?

Thing is, if you were going nowhere, it really doesn’t matter if you overcome the obstacle, you just can go back or whatever. It is only when you have a destination that you’re compelled to move forward.

Such metaphysical insight must be making our pantheon of philosophers wet their pants right now. Worry not, in this video we’re gonna expose the juicy elements of considering your plot before diving into a story. We’re not trying to convince you, we’re just telling you that…

PLOT CAN MAKE YOUR STORY BETTER.

You might be wondering, How?

Just remember the previous analogy about going out, your plot is your roadmap for the external conflict of the story.

Yes, there’s more than one type of conflict.

When figuring out the plot, what you’re doing is figuring out the spine of your story, it’s the foundation on top of which everything else rests. A classic definition of it would be; “The main events of a story devised and presented as an interrelated sequence”.

Now, these events refer to the external conflict as we said before, but also consider that, for the most part, they’re what the audience is gonna be watching and also it is definitely the selling point of any story.

Like in Independence day, right? the plot of that movie was about an alien invasion. So it covers the discovery of the invasion, the invasion itself and the final battle to free planet Earth.

That’s a PLOT!

Let’s go back to that classic definition for a moment;

The main events of a story devised and presented as an interrelated sequence”.

There are two things in this definition that are worth thinking about:

Main events: A sum of actions or events that occur in the story.

Interrelated: A connected order for these actions or events to happen.

So, what’s the difference between PLOT and STORY?

  • Story is what happens.
  • Plot is what happens in the connected order.

An example of this:

  • Story: A dude died and then a woman died.
  • Plot: A dude died and then a woman died of grief.

Got it? Okay, so “died of grief” implies a causal relation between both deaths, a connection.

Independence day, right?

So there can’t be a battle for the destiny of the planet if there’s no invasion first. In the same way, knowing how the whole thing ends can help you decide which events will comprise the development of your movie. DAAA

For example:

Let’s say someone asks you, hey, you’re a writer, right? and you say, yeah sure, whatever, I’m not a cocky cock. Which you are btw. Anyway, the other person then asks, so, what are you writing about?

You don’t wanna tell him that you haven’t written anything in like 2 years, so you eye the room searching for some inspiration to cover your shame with a lie and you land on a picture of two people getting back together.

Back together, uh? They answer back, kinda unsure if the information provided relates to an interesting story.

So, what do you do? Well think about it, people getting back together, this means they were apart, right?

Our causality is from being apart to getting back together. Maybe an alien abducts one of the characters and they take them to the spaceship. This poses the question, can a person abducted by aliens come back to their loved ones? Well, it depends you know, I mean, how tough are those aliens? are there other humans in there? maybe they can become a leader of the humans and face these crazy aliens, take control of the spaceship and come back home, right? But here’s the thing, turns out these crazy aliens were just heralds of a full-scale extraterrestrial invasion. So our protagonist now has to make a painful choice, either use the abducted spaceship to collide against the alien mothership and stop the invasion or come back home and enjoy their few last minutes with their loved ones. Either way, there’s no hope, or so does it seems. You see, our protagonist was a selfish person who only did what was in their best interest, maybe this was even the reason he was abducted in the first place, after performing one of their classic selfish acts. But out there, facing some disgusting reptilian villains, he won’t be able to be like that, no-no. If he is to become a leader, he must change from selfish to selfless, right?

And what does a selfless person do? Yes, they would choose to collide with the mothership. The thing is, these crazy aliens were not the kamikaze type, they had some escape pods ready in the original alien spaceship. And thus, our newborn hero manages to make the spacecraft collide with the mother ship, stopping the invasion and floating back to Earth aboard the escape pod, where he ultimately lands and gets back to their loved ones. Unfortunately, he’s still young and his wife is now an old lady.

Why?

Because the picture was about a young man hugging his grandma.

I think we convinced them….

Now, back to the initial question.

Does any of this talk about plot help you make your story better in any way?

I think it does! Just think about it, the plot can be thought of as a chain of events in which previous events act as a cause for the next ones and so on!

Now you can write any dumbass story about alien invasions you want by following two simple rules:

  • Any event leads to another.
  • Any event comes from a previous one.  

I know, I know, plot is much more than that. I mean stories can be as simple or complex as your imagination can make them. Over the next weeks we’ll be diving into the fabric of stories and maybe figure out why some of them are so awesome!

Now, if you liked this video please remember to subscribe and give us a like.

This is M. Light, with the first of many videos about storytelling, wishing good luck in writing.

Bye!

Signs

In this age and time

We were forced to leave everything behind

Even ourselves

So much that we can’t remember anymore

Cloudy beyond the pain

Us

You think it’ll come back?

Or miracles left us

Waiting for a sign of god

I feel I’ve wasted my life

I’t’s because things are bad

Worst than bad

Many people have died

So much that bright days hurt

Tender smiles cause envy

And shooting blanks into the night

Won’t stop the arrows in our hearts

So stay

Start over

Accept your place

The real one

There, where you’re being yourself.