Today I’d like to share a helpful acronym from Plot & Structure - Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell, published by Writer’s Digest Books from their Write Great Fiction series.
I’m a panster working to find a happy medium between plotting and writing by the seat of my pants. As I work on my novella I keep feeling a need to revisit the parts of a novel and remembered this book on my shelf, which is full of sticky flags.
Bell analyzed hundreds of plots and came up with “a simple set of foundational principles” he calls the LOCK system.
This just touches on the system. It is the foundation of the book, each category is thoroughly discussed. As the title suggests, the book is full of plot and structure advice.
LOCK: Lead, Objective, Confrontation, and Knockout.
Bell discusses having a strong Lead character who is “compelling, someone we have to watch throughout the course of the novel.”
The “Objective is the driving force of fiction.” It moves the story forward and gives the Lead something to do. She’s either going after something or running a way from something. There should be only one dominant Objective for the Lead character. “This forms the ‘story question”—will the Lead realize her Objective?”
Readers wonder if she will reach her Objective because of the Confrontation. The Objective needs to be crucial so the Lead will have a reason to face the Confrontation to achieve her Objective. If there’s no Confrontation the reader has nothing to worry and fret about, no suspense that the Lead with reach her Objective.
The Knockout is your great ending that leaves the reader satisfied.
This correlates with GMC, another writers’ acronym.
GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict
The Goal is the Objective, the character is Motivated because the Objective is crucial, Conflict is Confrontation.
Now that I’ve revved up my plotting engine, I’m ready to get back to my novella.
Do you know of any writers’ acronyms that help you remember the many parts of a good story?