I’m ready to create something delicious and memorable, something people will remember for a long time, and want to enjoy again, and again.
I pull out my recipe (trusty plot clock template), and list all of the ingredients I need for a successful and engaging outcome: ordinary world, binding point, low point, turning point, climax, and denouement. (You may structure your story differently, but this is the recipe I use – tried and true.) The recipe has only six main ingredients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy recipe. Skip a step, or make an error in measurement, and it could spell disaster.
I combine the ingredients in the order listed, and add creative bits as I go along:
Ordinary World: Measure out an interesting, multi-sensory place you’d want to visit, then carefully add just enough fun, quirky characters. Must be a good mix that includes (at the very least) a protagonist and antagonist.
Binding Point: Sift in a challenge/event the main character commits to. Mix thoroughly, as your main character is leaving comfort of the ordinary world – there is no turning back.
Low Point: Things look like they may have gone wrong, very wrong. You think you made a mistake somewhere, should toss the whole thing out, and start over. Don’t. Your main character is down, but not out. Keep mixing, keep stirring. Have faith in your main character, the supporting characters, and where your story is headed.
Turning Point: See? It’s coming together nicely! Problems solved, success has triumphed over struggle/failure. Everything that was a challenge leading to the low point can be checked off as resolved/overcome. Looks like smooth sailing the rest of the way.
Climax: Not so fast! Check the recipe! You must not skip this step! If you do, the final outcome will be dismal, and not what your reader deserves. Your main character needs to get over this one, last hurdle – perhaps the worst, or most dangerous. Don’t despair. If you’ve added the ingredients in the right order, and mixed properly, your main character will have what he/she needs to succeed.
Denouement: Ah! The sweet smell of success! You can tie up those last little bits, and savor the sweet taste of a job well done! You may even want to leave a bit of a bread crumb to let the reader know that even though this story has ended, there are more adventures to come for your main character! Sequel? Series?
My story has been mixed (in order) and is presently at rest in a warm, draft-free place. It will remain there for at least one week – the time required for the story to have some time on its own, based on a note on the side of the recipe from my editor.
While it rests, my brain will do the same. I’ll clean my office, undertake some domestic chores, and marathon watch the first season of “Outlander.”
When the week is over, I’ll peek under the cotton cloth and see what I’ve got.