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Satisfying
Fiction
HOW TO WRITE
What we’ll cover...
STORY
Stories are challenges too great for
the protagonist to currently
handle. They need constraints and
limitations that force them to act
out of character until they’re
increasingly in emotional turmoil.
What Happens
CONFLICT
Unresolved conflict drives story.
LACK of information drives
intrigue. Introduce the questions
and uncertainty before you deliver
the information/explanation.
Why it matters
2
What’s the REAL story?
Main Plot (what)
Goal/opposition,
creates tension that
leads to awareness
and growth.
◈ Interior/external.
◈ Values in CONFLICT.
Side Plot (why)
Integral to main story.
Experienced, but not
chosen. This witnessing
influences later
decision-making or
awareness.
◈ World worth saving
◈ Levity/conflict.
Sub Plot (how)
Brooding tensions or
lingering questions that
get resolved as
character’s knowledge or
understanding grows.
◈ Backstory info, history,
worldbuilding, etc.
◈ Things that *might* matter
or *could* matter.
◈ Red herrings (hint wrong;
elude grasp; unresolved
questions.)
3
Difficult
The choices need to be hard enough to create
fear, insecurity & indecision.
Sideplot (an unrelated conflict) that perfectly mirrors the main
character’s difficult choice and allows them to see a mockup of
how things play out; creates awareness that gives them a glimpse
at a way forward, or at least process their own fears and desires.
Charlotte Brontë, Emma
1
4
Personal
Each character’s unique challenge will match their
personal weakness or fear. The price for victory is the
one thing they have so far refused to do, or something
they cannot give up or bear to lose.
It matters, it is remarkable, because it forced your
protagonist to change.
2
5
Examples
◈ The challenge matches the character’s
weakness. And some text
◈ Beginning/end foil
◈ Rim of the World/Mare of Easttown
6
Motivated
Why are they willing to put themselves in this identity-
destroying conflict, rather than just giving up or running away?
Why do they stay in THIS fight, when they’ve run from similar
ones? If they weren’t ready at the beginning, why are they
ready now – what changed in them, as a result of your story’s
journey?
YOUR BOOK = THE CONTEXT FOR THE MOMENT OF CHANGE
3
7
Fixing Plot Holes
◈ Why are the characters doing this?
(what are they hoping to achieve)
◈ Why does it matter?
(how do they feel about it)
Your protagonist needs to have a strong, consistent internal compass, and it needs to be revealed
through incidents that establish their character. This is who they are. Without this reliable core
identity, we won’t be able to tell a story that forces them to change.
8
Satisfaction is
delayed pleasure
Information management: raising burning desire for clarity
with unresolved questions and tensions. Only give the
answers AFTER the main conflict has been resolved.
9
Your Conclusion Might Include
Resistance
Physical tension as allies perform
a tug-of-war battle against
resistance, that shows how
difficult this struggle is, and how
much force is required.
Consideration
The consideration phase, as
characters are tempted last
minute or the price for victory is
revealed.
Flashback
The final flashback, as the full
backstory is revealed so we can
see exactly why this conflict is so
difficult or meaningful for the
main character.
Broken Rules
a rule that must be broken (giving
up who I am for a greater good,
but it must be incredibly difficult
still).
Slide Reel
the sweet memories that give
them awareness that this fight is
worth the cost or risk (you need
to show them making the choice,
knowing what they will lose).
Final Battles
◈ Inner/Outer
◈ First/Second
◈ Unexpected Victory (who they
ARE, not what they DO)
◈ Conditional Success (the
necessary change when all is lost)
10
Scene Checklist
1. Where/who is doing what
2. What new/different/unexpected thing happens that forces response
3. How do people respond in a way that shows character and introduces conflict
4. How does this conflict build to impasse?
5. What are the physical manifestations of emotional overwhelm?
6. How is this temporarily resolved?
12
◈ Plot Dot
◈ Chapter Templates
◈ Common Mistakes
www.creativindie.com/plotdot
www.creativindie.com/plot-outline
www.writethemagic.com/grimoire
Thanks!

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How to Craft Satisfying Fiction

  • 2. What we’ll cover... STORY Stories are challenges too great for the protagonist to currently handle. They need constraints and limitations that force them to act out of character until they’re increasingly in emotional turmoil. What Happens CONFLICT Unresolved conflict drives story. LACK of information drives intrigue. Introduce the questions and uncertainty before you deliver the information/explanation. Why it matters 2
  • 3. What’s the REAL story? Main Plot (what) Goal/opposition, creates tension that leads to awareness and growth. ◈ Interior/external. ◈ Values in CONFLICT. Side Plot (why) Integral to main story. Experienced, but not chosen. This witnessing influences later decision-making or awareness. ◈ World worth saving ◈ Levity/conflict. Sub Plot (how) Brooding tensions or lingering questions that get resolved as character’s knowledge or understanding grows. ◈ Backstory info, history, worldbuilding, etc. ◈ Things that *might* matter or *could* matter. ◈ Red herrings (hint wrong; elude grasp; unresolved questions.) 3
  • 4. Difficult The choices need to be hard enough to create fear, insecurity & indecision. Sideplot (an unrelated conflict) that perfectly mirrors the main character’s difficult choice and allows them to see a mockup of how things play out; creates awareness that gives them a glimpse at a way forward, or at least process their own fears and desires. Charlotte Brontë, Emma 1 4
  • 5. Personal Each character’s unique challenge will match their personal weakness or fear. The price for victory is the one thing they have so far refused to do, or something they cannot give up or bear to lose. It matters, it is remarkable, because it forced your protagonist to change. 2 5
  • 6. Examples ◈ The challenge matches the character’s weakness. And some text ◈ Beginning/end foil ◈ Rim of the World/Mare of Easttown 6
  • 7. Motivated Why are they willing to put themselves in this identity- destroying conflict, rather than just giving up or running away? Why do they stay in THIS fight, when they’ve run from similar ones? If they weren’t ready at the beginning, why are they ready now – what changed in them, as a result of your story’s journey? YOUR BOOK = THE CONTEXT FOR THE MOMENT OF CHANGE 3 7
  • 8. Fixing Plot Holes ◈ Why are the characters doing this? (what are they hoping to achieve) ◈ Why does it matter? (how do they feel about it) Your protagonist needs to have a strong, consistent internal compass, and it needs to be revealed through incidents that establish their character. This is who they are. Without this reliable core identity, we won’t be able to tell a story that forces them to change. 8
  • 9. Satisfaction is delayed pleasure Information management: raising burning desire for clarity with unresolved questions and tensions. Only give the answers AFTER the main conflict has been resolved. 9
  • 10. Your Conclusion Might Include Resistance Physical tension as allies perform a tug-of-war battle against resistance, that shows how difficult this struggle is, and how much force is required. Consideration The consideration phase, as characters are tempted last minute or the price for victory is revealed. Flashback The final flashback, as the full backstory is revealed so we can see exactly why this conflict is so difficult or meaningful for the main character. Broken Rules a rule that must be broken (giving up who I am for a greater good, but it must be incredibly difficult still). Slide Reel the sweet memories that give them awareness that this fight is worth the cost or risk (you need to show them making the choice, knowing what they will lose). Final Battles ◈ Inner/Outer ◈ First/Second ◈ Unexpected Victory (who they ARE, not what they DO) ◈ Conditional Success (the necessary change when all is lost) 10
  • 11. Scene Checklist 1. Where/who is doing what 2. What new/different/unexpected thing happens that forces response 3. How do people respond in a way that shows character and introduces conflict 4. How does this conflict build to impasse? 5. What are the physical manifestations of emotional overwhelm? 6. How is this temporarily resolved?
  • 12. 12 ◈ Plot Dot ◈ Chapter Templates ◈ Common Mistakes www.creativindie.com/plotdot www.creativindie.com/plot-outline www.writethemagic.com/grimoire Thanks!