Theme, Misbelief, Plot, Conflict
Working it all out
Anna and I have been talking out the plot and themes of the pond novel. We have a spreadsheet where one tab tracks our A, B, C, and D plots through 43 chapters — there’s one main plot plus each of our three main characters has their own personal stuff going on — and another tab tracks the bigger-picture ideas we’re working with.
While we’ve been working it all out, this Kat Lewis tweet thread has come in super-handy.
We followed Kat’s advice and used our themes to determine our characters’ misbeliefs and goals, which will in turn drive the conflict and plot. (I think this idea of a character misbelief might come from Lisa Kron’s Story Genius? But Kat linked to this video where Abbie Emmons breaks it down. Either way, I had never heard this concept presented in this way and found it extremely helpful.)
Here’s one example of how this method is playing out for us. One of our themes is that the place you came from — the good, bad, and ugly of it — is part of who you are. We’re using this theme to explore ideas around inheritance, tradition, conservation, family, and home. If we take the opposite of this theme as our character’s misbelief, we get a character who believes that she must reject the place she came from in order to forge a life for herself. This need to escape will be the engine behind her external conflict, and her misbelief will be the engine behind her internal conflict.
Nothing is set in stone yet. Everything is still possible. Big new project energy over here. ✨ But also I like that, with every conversation about our characters and what they want, some doors close. It makes it easier to write forward.
We’ve got the better part of the first six chapters now, over 7k words! And still having fun.