Plot Part 7 – Complications

You’ve (hopefully) worked out the beginning, climax, and ending of your new book by now and you’ve adjusted to make sure that these all work together well—at least so far as the outline is written to date. Don’t fret if you discover that you have to keep adjusting your plot as you go along. It happens.

Let’s start filling in the gaps with the goal that over the next several weeks you will have an entire outlined plot so that when you begin to actually write your book you will know exactly what is supposed to happen next (and you, consequently, will not have any writer’s block because knowing what comes next solves that problem).

So, what’s next?

Now, we get your protagonist from the beginning through to the climax. We know where your character needs to go. And our job as writers is to make that journey as difficult as possible.

How do we do that?

We add complications.

Let’s think about it this way.

Say your name is Luke Skywalker and you are stuck on a remote planet called Tatooine. You really want to do something with your life, but Uncle Owen needs you to work on the farm for another year. Dangit! You need droids to help you farm and one of them has a message for some guy named Obiwankenobi. You know that guy’s name, but you’re a good boy, so you do what Uncle Owen says.

But THEN! The droid runs away! Now you have to find it.

Let’s break it down.

Luke wants to leave Tatooine, but Uncle Owen said no. That complicates Luke’s plan to leave.

Luke gets a droid, but the droid apparently belongs to Obiwankenobi. That complicates Luke’s ownership of the droid.

Luke is supposed to be farming early in the morning, but the droid runs away. That complicates Luke’s attempts to appease his uncle.

Luke finds the droid and Obiwankenobi but comes home to discover his uncle has been killed.

Etcetera. Get it? It’s the complications that your character has to overcome that moves the story forward by stopping your character from moving forward.

So, let’s add a series of complications to the plot outline.

These are not all of the complications and plot points that we will need, but it’s a start. Take some time to think about your character and what motivates them, then think up the most difficult thing they could possibly have to overcome in that particular moment, in that particular situation that they find themselves in. Make it hard. Never let your characters get away too easily.

Next time we will chat about, you guessed it, more complications.

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