Back at the end of the year when I did reader surveys, I saw a few people specifically request craft conversations. Writing craft is an interesting thing (and Kristen at She’s Novel is basically the queen of craft talks), and despite the fact that I have a minor in Creative Writing, I don’t really feel like I talk about craft very well.
I also feel this need to talk about craft in a different way. You can look at any writing website and find posts about POV or “Showing vs Telling.” I don’t want to be that website, because I don’t think I would have anything new to say on those topics.
With that being said, I want to talk about plot today. As I go through edits on Double Played, I’ve realized I use a plot structure in my books – it’s kind of a one-two punch. I’m sure that other people have used a similar structure before, but I don’t typically see people talk about it, think of it as the mini-plot structure.
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One of the most common plot structures is this rising hill (I don’t remember the actual name of it) of rising action, the climax, and then falling action. Obviously, this is extremely simplified, but it’s a common plot structure. It’s common because it works.
Today, I’ll break down the simple plotline of The Assassin and show you how I’ve used this one and a half plot structure to plot my books. We’ll call them “mini-plot” and “big plot.” Before we begin though, I’m going to share the back cover copy for my book, just so you have a general idea of what’s going on.
Cassie Morgan is one of the brightest young stars in the FBI. Her latest assignment? Investigating Connor Anders, a rogue agent who is considered a living legend to some.
After a run-in with Anders goes wrong, Cassie is given a unique opportunity. Anders offers her a deal, hoping to keep the FBI off his own back. If he helps Cassie catch a serial killer known as The Assassin, she’ll stop investigating him. But working with on the other side of crime has consequences, and soon Cassie finds herself on The Assassin’s radar.
Now, Cassie and Anders must locate the killer and bring him down, all while keeping their partnership a secret and hiding Cassie so she isn’t The Assassin’s next victim.
The Mini Plot structure
The beginning of the book begins with Cassie investigating this rogue agent, Connor Anders. This plot line is “in Media Res” or in the middle. Actually, the first chapter ends with a big moment. This line of Cassie investigating Anders doesn’t last too terribly long, because it merges into The Big Plot.
I’m thinking this ought to be the “mini-plot” not the “half plot” for a few reasons, number one being that it’s not a half plot. It’s a plot, it’s just a smaller one that merges into a bigger one. And I wouldn’t call it a subplot. It doesn’t supplement the main plot, it pushes it.
The Big Plot
Obviously, the big plot here is the one about The Assassin. But as the summary says, it takes Cassie working with Anders to bring that to front. Of course, there’s the idea that Cassie could possibly be assigned to the task force working on The Assassin’s case without Anders’ help, but he plays a critical role in finding The Assassin.
The mini-plot line is “mini” because once the “big” or main plot is introduced, it tends to take a backseat. Not that you never talk about it, but it almost becomes absorbed by the main plot line. While Cassie still wants to bring Anders to justice, she is more concerned with keeping a serial killer off the streets. In order to bring Anders back, she has to convince him he can trust her, which adds to the adventure of them working together.
When it comes to merging the two, there’s really only one requirement that comes with this “mini” plotline idea: the two have to be connected. Whether it’s working with the criminal you want to arrest to someone else, or finding out you were set up with a soon-to-be co-worker, the mini plot and the major plot need to be tied to one another, and the mini-plot needs to move well within the major plot.