Sunday, July 31, 2011

And The Plot Thickens

I always wanted to say that.

Last time I spelled out my formula for plotting a novel. I don’t think the method is anything special but does rely on one key element: writing the final chapter, the climax to how it ends.   The reason is to prevent wandering.  I’ve read books that just seem to be all over the place until they get to the ending. Let’s face it. It’s like driving in the fog.  As long as you steer in the general direction, you should eventually get there.  Of course that wastes fuel and time and makes trip longer than it should be.

Foreshadow! Never pull a rabbit out of the hat. Leave that to magicians. The best bad example I have seen recently was in the movie RED PLANET.  I won’t tell you all the foreshadow mistakes this movie makes, but let me share one that won’t totally ruin the plot. The astronauts stranded on the planet surface are told about a massive storm coming. Temperatures are in the negative double digits, blinding snow is coming, and the storm is the size of Montana according to the captain on the mother ship still orbiting the planet. Golly! What are they going to do? Luckily one of the astronauts remembers a cave a short distance back. Yipee! They’re saved. Never saw that coming.

What do you do when you paint yourself into a proverbial corner?  Complicate things! Add a new plot element.  Say our super spy is tied up in a burning building left to die.  He’s not Houdini and no way can he escape. What to do? Bam! The side of the building explodes. In walks a hot chick in a tight leather suit who cuts him loose and drags him out. He recalls she was the pretty brunette in the bar earlier that evening that he hit on, but really she was sent by the home office to keep him out of trouble.

And that, by the way, is foreshadowing.

Ron D. Voigts is the author of PENELOPE AND THE BIRTHDAY CURSE, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


  1. heh-heh, yeah I always have to go back and add some foreshadowing in ;)

  2. Maybe the brunette was sent by the Gods. "Deus Maximus" Best forshadowing was in "The Fugitive" when Deputy Gerrard is interviewing the doctor who admits helping and knowing the fugitive.

    "Tell me, Dr. Nichols, is Richard Kimball smarter than you?"


    And so he was, when he caught the bad guy, who was... See the movie. Lots of lessens for a writer in it.