The Plot Thickens– Figuring out where we are going.

We are getting close to the end of our series on how I turn an idea into a story. It has been a fun adventure for me. It usually is, which is probably part of the reason I love writing. It is so fun to see a tiny idea grow into something substantial. Here is what we have done so far:

Coming up with the initial idea
Figuring out a premise for the story this idea could become
Learning about the main character of our story
Finding out a bit about the other key characters
Getting a good fix on our setting

This week, we will make a loose plot map of the biggest events we want to happen in the story. There are a lot of different ways to outline, and I have tried several. So far, I have just kind of taken my favorite parts of them and made up my own. I’m not generally set on forcing a story to follow a specific pattern or archetype. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. However, most stories will fit a general pattern of beginning, rising action, climax, and conclusion. Things can get much more complicated, for example, if you want to follow the hero archetype, that adds an entirely different layer or some people swear by the three act format. However, those things almost always follow the basic pattern of beginning, rising, climax, and conclusion.

If I have to be perfectly honest, I will admit I don’t usually get this far, at least formally, before I start to write. I do, however, have a basic idea of the big events that need to happen, and how I want the story to end. I just store it all in my head instead of writing it down. For some reason, I have a hard time getting the thoughts out of my head onto the paper. Kind of ironic for a writer, right? Well, I think the reason is, there is so much going on in my mind, I don’t know how to condense it into an outline. It just ends up being the story. This time, however, I’m going to try and pin down what’s going on in my head in words so you can kind of get a general idea. Well, here goes…

The Story Begins
Markin has been part of the Aviandrian Spec. Ops. For a few years. He is good at what he does and usually enjoys it. Aviandria isn’t at war with anybody, so things aren’t super stressful. However, this changes when he receives a special assignment to infiltrate the outlaw band that has been plaguing central Aviandria. He is supposed to A) get more information about the rumor that the band is planning something against the royal family, and B) shut them down if at all possible. (We kind of already knew this already.)

Rising Action
1) Markin is able to get into the outlaw band by using a set-up he arranged with some of the other members of the spec. Ops. Team. He is working to gain their full trust without really hurting anybody. It is tricky, but he is doing fairly well. However, an incident with a soldier he didn’t kill somewhat tarnishes the trust he had started to build up. There is just enough suspicion that the outlaws aren’t completely open with him in their planning.
2)Marking meets Jen, the daughter of the local tavern keeper. He realizes that if she would be willing to help, she would be in a perfect position to help him get information he may not be able to get as easily himself. After observing her character, he decides to risk everything to ask for her help. She agrees (though it might not be easy to convince her. I’m not sure yet.)
3)Mikae is starting to get fairly suspicious of Markin due to a few minor things. He starts throwing tests at him in the way of missions. Markin is hard pressed to be successful without breaking his promise to himself to keep from really hurting others. Eventually, after some creativity and self-sacrifice, Mikae decides to let Markin help in their “mission of all missions” which is to take the entire royal family hostage and demand a large ransom. (I’m not sure if that is too lame. It may change if I can think of something better.)

Climax
Marking gets ready to go with the group sent to capture the royal family. However, he learns he has been sent on the false assignment because Mikae was fairly certain Markin was there to stop the plan. By the time Markin learns of the situation, he can’t stop it all in time. He manages to save most of the royal family, but Mikae manages to get away with one of the children. Markin sets off to save the child, but Mikae has taken precautions. He is holding Jen (who Markin has started to develop some feelings for) and her father hostage in order to get Markin to cooperate. Markin is faced with a choice—save the child and let Jen pay the price, or save Jen and let Mikae get away with the child.

Conclusion
There are several different conclusions I can think of for this story, and I’m not one hundred percent sure which I will use yet. Here are my favorite options.
1) Markin anticipated some sort of trick on Mikae’s part and is prepared for it. He is able to save both Jen and the child. Almost too good to be true, though it is the happiest ending.
2) Markin sacrifices Jen in order to save the child but is comforted knowing it is what Jen would have wanted.
3) Markin is trying so hard to save both that he is on the verge of losing both when a source of assistance comes and assists him. He gets little of the recognition but is content because both of his objectives were achieved, and that matters to him more than glory.

So, now I know the big things that go on in the story. There are lots of little things that could happen in between. Also, there is no guarantee the plot will stick to this plan. Sometimes the story takes on a mind of its own and deviates from what you plan. However, this is a start. When I have time to write it, we’ll see where the story takes us. There’s no doubt about it, it’s always an adventure.

Which ending do you like best? Is there one I haven’t thought of? Any other plot twists you think sound fun?

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