Master Plot 3 – The Second 1500 Words

Once again, please read the relevant bit of story before you read this. 1 Once again, it is entirely unedited, and once again, the red is me and the black is Mr. Dent.

Interestingly 2, this time around I really want to go back and re-write this section of the story. It hews more closely to the original outline, but re-reading the outline I’ve realized just how much of the actual formula I missed–the beats and character choices that are key to Dent’s formula that I laid out here, then dropped when it came to actually writing the story.


1–Shovel more grief onto the hero.
The person in the ambulance dies on the way to the hospital. Liz and Yates argue about what to do — Yates thinks they should stake out the nightclub, figure out what the hell was going on in there, question the other people in the room. But their subscribers are dropping and people are protesting, and Liz wants something flashy. She also firmly believes that the poet has something to do with it and…

2–Hero, being heroic, struggles, and his struggles lead up to:
She doesn’t want anyone else to die. She’s worried that the stream does have something to do with it and that if they question more pebople they’ll die too, and that would be bad. So she pulls rank and they go to find Brown.3

3–Another physical conflict.
But all of this is on the stream, and as Liz is talking to the audience some thugs appear and attempt to get them. They fight and run.

4–A surprising plot twist to end the 1500 words.
Brown has nothing to do with it at all, as far as he knows. He’s just old and sad, a sell-out with no more ideas, waiting for death.4

NOW: Does second part have SUSPENSE?
Does the MENACE grow like a black cloud?
Is the hero getting it in the neck?
Is the second part logical?

DON’T TELL ABOUT IT***Show how the thing looked. This is one of the secrets of writing; never tell the reader–show him. (He trembles, roving eyes, slackened jaw, and such.) MAKE THE READER SEE HIM.

When writing, it helps to get at least one minor surprise to the printed page.5 It is reasonable to to expect these minor surprises to sort of inveigle the reader into keeping on. They need not be such profound efforts. One method of accomplishing one now and then is to be gently misleading. Hero is examining the murder room. The door behind him begins slowly to open. He does not see it. He conducts his examination blissfully. Door eases open, wider and wider, until–surprise! The glass pane falls out of the big window across the room. It must have fallen slowly, and air blowing into the room caused the door to open. Then what the heck made the pane fall so slowly? More mystery.

Characterizing a story actor consists of giving him some things which make him stick in the reader’s mind. TAG HIM.

Some tags:
Liz: sharp, quick, thin, smile
Yates: soft, dark, scowl
Brown: slow and plodding, creaky 6
Thug 1: shifting facial tattoos, thick-armed
Thug 2: Armed with stun sticks, missing two fingers 7

  1. yeah, yeah, I’m not your real mom

  2. To me, anyway

  3. wow, this is not clear in the text.

  4. Wait. THAT was the plan? Wow. I think I like that a lot better, but honestly I have no idea how that would fit in 1500 words. Maybe that’s why I killed the poor old bastard off instead?

  5. oh god this is so hard.

  6. or “dead”. that works too.

  7. oooooh I like that a great deal. I wish I could go back and edit it now, that’s way better.

1 thought on “Master Plot 3 – The Second 1500 Words”

  1. “I’ve realized just how much of the actual formula I missed–the beats and character choices that are key to Dent’s formula that I laid out here, then dropped when it came to actually writing the story.”

    Interesting! This is what (I think) I was trying to get at but could not succinctly type in my comment on the First 1500 Words outline. Why do you think that is? How closely do you look at the outline as you write the prose? (If at all—do you create the outline then work from memory as you prose it up?) This is super fascinating!

    Do you think it’s you, trying to pull the story in a different way (maybe drive by your gut)? Or is it the story (I know, “the story” is still just you) trying to direct itself in a different way? [Self-Editor’s Note: I think both those are actually the same thing…] Really curious to see how the third section comes out!

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