NNWM – plotting opposition

In yesterday’s post I talked about the main character’s plan for getting what they want. You’ve got a list of all these things they want to try for achieving their goals. And I asked you to consider if they would cheat. That would be sources of internal conflict.

External conflict is the opposition that comes from someone else who either wants the same goal (win a big race or date the same girl) or wants to stop the main character for some reason of their own — like, they want to take over the galaxy, but can’t if the main character gets in their way. LOL

This is the antagonist.

Look at your list of attempts to reach the goal. Ask:

Is there an internal conflict that could block the main character from getting through this step successfully? (they don’t want to cheat, but they might have to because…)

Is there an external conflict instead? (someone else who wants that same object?)

No, you do not have to decide now what the outcome will be. That can be discovered as you write each scene itself.

Write down whether there is an internal conflict or an external conflict for each one.

How to Write Story Plot: Tips, Tricks, and Margaret Atwood's Writing  Prompts - 2020 - MasterClass

You’ll notice I don’t discuss climax separately. The climax is the end of the rising action. It’s the last “make or break” attempt to achieve the goal. So it’s just the last on your list, and your character’s progress to that point will determine if they are successful or not.

That’s plotting in a nutshell. I will tell you this last bit of advice. Don’t make the achievements easy. What lifts a plot from basic to interesting is the “mostly, but not quite” conclusion to a goal-seeking attempt or a “not this time!” outright failure (what are called “reversals”). if you want to read more about these techniques of scene ending, I highly recommend Jack M. Bickham’s Scene and Structure.

After the climax is the falling action and resolution. Both of these are covered in the next two posts “Lessons Learned,” which will discuss themes and character growth, and “Endings,” which discusses, you guessed it, how to end your story.

See you tomorrow.

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