Can you use the Basic Short Story template to plot novels?
Many authors have asked about this, and yes, of course you can. It gives you a high-level overview of your plot.
When you’re plotting it’s easy to become intrigued with a minor character, or a series of incidents. Glance at the template, and you’ll get back on track.
If you’re an outliner, you can brainstorm from the template. You’ll know what you need to cover in your novel’s plot. Just keep adding characters and obstacles — these will create a subplot or two. But don’t create so many “add ons” that you get confused. Keep the focus on your main character and his problems.
The template’s perfect for pantsers, so pants away. You can confidently head off into the wild lands of your imagination, using the basic template as a guide.
The danger of writing an obstacle course: keep the midpoint in mind
There’s a special danger with the “complications” part of the template. You’ll create obstacles for your main character to overcome, and that’s great.
Let’s look the basic template, from the article, Basic Short Story Template: Keep It Simple!:
- Someone — your main character — wants something.
- Your story starts when something changes in your character’s ordinary world.
- The resurrection.
The danger is that you’ll overcomplicate when you get to the third part of the template, and will tie yourself in knots. Moreover, those knots will be BORING. (Danger, Will Robinson — don’t get lost in space.:-))
Inevitably, when this happens, you’ll end up with a saggy middle of your novel. Readers stop reading.
BIG TIP: remember the midpoint twist at 50%
If you’ve been writing fiction for a while, you know all about the “sagging middle.”
Authors start a novel confidently. Somewhere at around page 100, they realize that they’ve literally lost the plot.
Yes, you need obstacles to carry you through the saggy middle, BUT don’t string incidents and disasters along like beads on a string… There has to be a point.
As we said in this article on narrative drive:
You must create narrative drive, and use it to power your short stories and novels.
Once you understand the basics of writing for narrative drive — control information, power up the story question, and create open loops — the middle 50% “complications” portion of your novel will energize you. There’s no chance you’ll create a saggy middle.
Have fun with the template
The short story template, whether you use it for stories, or for complete novels, is adaptable. You can write fiction in any genre, and it’s easy to remember.
Your only danger is the midpoint. Whether you outline or not, remember that after the setup of your fiction, the midpoint is next. Ensure that your story question is powerful enough to provide a suspenseful twist at the midpoint, and will carry you through to the climax.
Have fun with it. 🙂
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