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How to bring emotion to your plot. (Plot Busters) | Laura Pauling

How to bring emotion to your plot. (Plot Busters)

In Act II there is something that Blake Snyder refers to as the B story (or basically the subplot).

And this is where you bring in the emotion, the personal stakes.

I figured with a humorous mystery like I SO DON’T DO SPOOKY that the emotion might be on the weak side. With the focus being on the mystery.

Boy was I wrong.

Barrie Summy does an incredible job balancing the main storyline or the Fun and Games of the first part of Act II with the B story.

In other words, the mystery is there but we connect to Sherry when we realize how much she misses her mother, which makes us care more about the mystery.

The emotion of the B story provides the motivation for the character to solve the mystery.

Below is a one-sentence break down of Act II

Break into two: (protagonist must make a proactive decision)

Sherry and her best friend, Junie, make a plan to follow leads.

B story: (the love story – not always romantic)

Sherry misses her mom (who is a ghost) and wants to earn some “real time” with her by solving the mystery.

Fun and Games: (the heart of the book – why we read it)

Sherry investigates and follows clue after clue – some of them leading to a dead end, but others set up the midpoint and climax.

Midpoint: (stakes are raised significantly – another big game changer)

In her undercover work, Sherry is found out and dropped off in the middle of a desert where she learns that the Ruler’s stalker is a ghost!

Bad guys close in: (Things get worse.)

Sherry goes ghost hunting with a “real” ghost hunter and learns how to catch a ghost and she learns who the ghost might be.

All is lost and Dark night of the soul:

The mystery continues and more truths are revealed but I didn’t find a true dark moment where Sherry feels all is lost. She does feel the stress of time running out, but that’s not quite the same thing.

And this ends Act II.  So without that dark moment how did I know where Act III started? With an obvious Break into three. But that’s next Monday.

How do you add emotion to your main storyline so it works? Share your tips.

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15 Responses to How to bring emotion to your plot. (Plot Busters)

  1. Matthew MacNish January 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    It’s kind of amazing how much sense this can make, even when I haven’t read the book. I can’t wait to someday see this done for a book I have read.

    • Laura January 23, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

      Ha ha Matthew! I guess you’ll have to do that break down. Though we probably have read some of the same books. 🙂

  2. Stina Lindenblatt January 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I love these posts, Laura. They’re a great reminder of how Blake breaks things down (even if I do have the book pretty much memorized by now lol).

    Ha ha Matt! Looks like you’re going to have to do some homework. 😀

  3. Lisa Green January 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    I would guess that the dark night of the soul moment varies in intensity depending on genre, style and story. Interesting how it can work with variations though.

  4. Lydia K January 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    I love your plot buster posts! I think getting people invested in the stakes adds instant emotion you can access a lot.

    • Laura January 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      Stina – I have the book pretty much memorized too!

      Lisa – Yes, I do think the dark night of the soul will vary with the type of book. And in all the books I read and totally loved, they don’t all have all the elements. But other things like terrific writing or great emotion make me not even care!

      Lydia – Thanks! yes connecting the emotional stakes to the plot is a biggie!

  5. Heather McCorkle January 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I love this breakdown. Sounds like I’m going to have to read this one!

  6. Patti January 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

    Great break down. Adding emotion is definitely something that I’m trying to get better out.

  7. Karen Strong January 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Act II is usually where I put in the emotional meat of the novel. This is where the sub-plot starts to grow and most of them have an emotional punch to them. This is where I peel back layers of the characters.

    Easier said than done. Ha.

    I do love it when I see in other novels. I just finished reading CINDER and this is definitely true for the Act II in that novel.

  8. Donna K. Weaver January 23, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I love these breakdowns. Makes it so much easier to get my mind around.

  9. Tasha Seegmiller January 23, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    This is a great breakdown. Maggie Stiefvater recently showed how she outlines the emotion of a scene, to make sure it never goes too far one way without being balanced. And she uses different colors.

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Leigh Moore January 23, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

    Very cool how you broke all this down. I think you’re right that our stories have to have that heart or we won’t fall in love with them. But I never thought much about “fun and games” … I really like how you break these down, btw. :o) <3

    • Laura January 24, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      Thanks everyone. I’ve learned a lot from breaking these down. 🙂

  11. Peggy Eddleman January 24, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    I love it broken down like this! It sounds like a great book.

  12. Susan Kaye Quinn January 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    I always love your plot busters! Interesting about the “no dark moment” part…looking forward to the next one!

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