Saturday, June 30, 2012

Building Your Plot: Conclusion

This was supposed to be Friday's post, but little things like physical therapy, errands, and going out to lunch with my husband got in the way. When we finally returned home, our Corgi needed his walk. Badly. Or so he thought, and he was determined that we should know that. Even enticements like playing ball couldn't convince him otherwise, so another hour was gone! After that, I gave up and read my email, then curled up in my rocker with my Kindle and a new YA book I'm reading. More about that another time.

I've talked about Gabriela's problems, A and B, and the complications and twists with each. Let's go on to Problem C:

PROBLEM C: Gabriela's supernatural powers become stronger, and she's not sure she can deal with it. She learns she can intuit certain things about individuals simply by touching something that belongs to them. Remi keeps popping up out of nowhere, and finally she learns he is not all human. She feels her powers are going to control her, not the other way around, and she seeks advice from two of the "Freaks."

1)  The Sheriff has become her number one suspect in the children's murders, but she discovers that she cannot use her abilities against him: somehow she is blocked from his mind.

2)  Remi asks for her help: his human side is attracted to her, but he needs to be released from his gargoyle form. If she tries to help him, how much will that detract from her finding the killer?

3)  Remi insists upon helping her get information from the townspeople about the murders. But why is it that each time he offers his help, someone in the carnival gets hurt... or dies?

4)  Mr. Rutherford's attentions to Gabriela become even more insistent: he seems to be everywhere Gabriela is, and insists on helping her gather information about the murders that will lead to capturing the killer. But is it the right information, and what is his real intention towards her?


Gabriela discovers one of her powers is limited by certain elements, and these elements exhibit themselves at exactly the wrong time. What kind of danger does that put her in?

PROBLEM D:  Gabriela finds herself almost surrounded by Kathryn, her new friend ( supposedly) from school, Remi, and Mr. Rutherford. All three seem to be at odds with one another, and Gabriela doesn't know whom to believe or whom to trust or what leads to follow that each of them present to her. Are they real leads what might lead to solving this crime, or are they nothing more than Red Herrings? She feels she is being followed, but no one is around. She feels eyes upon her, and whispers between 2 or more 'beings,' but there is never anyone... human... there. She hears the fluttering of wings... very large wings... but no bird... or whatever... is visible.


1)  Sheriff McCray confronts Gabriela and demands to know what she is doing and why. He is angry but doesn't appear threatening. If he is the killer, what does that mean?

2)  The parents of the slain children meet with her, but plead for her to go away and leave things as they are. Why don't they want the killer of their children caught and punished?

3)  The townspeople hold a Town Meeting and demand that the carnival leave immediately, regardless of the fact that their vehicles are still disabled... and why is that? Is the entire town held in the grasp of someone... or something... evil?

4)  The one who is the Shape Shifter meets with the gargoyles. When Gabriela accidentally discovers who the Shape Shifter is, will this put her in danger that her powers cannot get her out of?


Gabriela learns that Sheriff McCray is not the murderer, nor is he the person who attacked and cut her face when she was ten years old. She discovers who the real murderer is, but he...or neither human, witch, nor gargoyle. Will her powers be sufficient to overcome this being and save her, the carnival, and the town?

And that is the end! At least, of this novel, the first in a trilogy about Gabriela and the carnival. Beneath the Possum Belly: Night Cries is the name of this novel, the 2nd in the series is Beneath the Possum Belly: Night Sounds, and the third is Beneath the Possum Belly: Night Spells.

Building the plot in this way has been a great help to me, the original I HATE OUTLINES writer, and I hope that it has at least given you some new ideas about how to build your plot, or how to outline your story.

Until next time,
That's a wrap.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Building Your Plot

This post may not apply to those of you who are organized enough to make thorough and complete outlines of your stories. But for pantsers like me, knowing how to build a plot is a great help. Now I know there are all kinds of ways to build a plot, but this is one I found in a great book by Nancy Kress, an award-winning author of more than twenty books.

Step One is building the Conflict. We all know that the protagonist has to have external well as internal... to get the story going. And the more problems that confront the MC, the more conflict she is going to have. You start out with Problem A, which should be the main problem she wants to solve. She is working on solving Problem A when Problem B shows up. Now she has two different problems, creating two different kinds of conflict, and before she had actually solved either of them, Problem C arrives. Since A is her main problem, this is going to be the center of the plot, so obviously she can't solve it any time soon. But she can try to solve B, so she is juggling A,B, AND C when Problem D arrives. By this time, she might have managed to solve B or C, but probably not both of them. And now she has D to consider.

Confused? Ok,let me take examples from my current WIP.

Problem A for Gabriela is the voices of the murdered children she hears in her head, calling for her to help them. She doesn't know who these children are, or how she is supposed to help them, so she must discover who they are, how they were murdered, and who murdered them, all in order to put their souls to rest.

However, problems alone don't make for a good plot. Along the way you need to have Complications arise.


1. Gabriela meets Remi, tall, handsome, and not at all who or what she believes him to be.
2. Henri, the carnival cook, meets with an accident...but was it actually an accident?
3. Josie, the Fat Lady of the Freak Show, suddenly dies. Everyone thinks it's because she was so terribly obese...but was it really natural causes? And what will happen when the roustabouts have to Red Light her body?

Then, of course, it's always nice to have an unexpected Plot Twist: the police come snooping around, wanting to know what happened to Josie... they know of her death, they also know the townspeople wouldn't allow her to be buried in their cemetery... so what has happened to her body?

Problem B:  Gabriela enrolls in the high school, since the carnival is stranded for several weeks in town. She immediately becomes the object of bullying:  because of her limp and the scar on her face, the kids treat her as just another "freak." How will she deal with this, when she wants to make friends in order to learn more about the dead children?


 1. Her history teacher takes more than a normal teacher-to-student interest in her. Where will this lead, and is he really a friend, or something else?
2. One of the students, Kathryn,  becomes Gabriela's friend... or is she?
3. Melvin, the 'chief bully,' attacks Gabriela twice. Kathryn comes to her rescue the first time, but the second is so violent Gabriela has to use her powers to defend herself. How will Melvin react to this?
4. Gabriela sees Kathryn talking secretly to the Sheriff. What is that all about?

Plot Twist:

Kathryn is secretly involved with the Sheriff. She is actually his daughter but no one knows this but the 2 of them. She had befriended Gabriela and pretends to help her with information about the dead children, but she is really keeping an eye on her for the Sheriff. She will lead Gabriela in the wrong direction, and finally, will be an ally in the last-minute attempt by the Sheriff to kill Gabriela... but is he really trying to kill her?

I hope this has been enough to whet your interest in one way to build your plot. I will have more about Problems C and D, and the complications and plot twists that go along with them, in Friday's post. Stay tuned!

Until next time,
That's a wrap.