As the subject says, I’m working on a new plot structure.
But, Kami, why develop a new one when there are tried and true methods out there already?
Because one size doesn’t fit all. Some stories will suffer if you try to fit them into a standard that isn’t meant for them.
To make it clear, I think everyone should still study the classics, the Three Act Structure, The Hero’s Journey, Save the Cat and similar. Study them and see why they work before you decide to reinvent the wheel.
Why I need you.
For brainstorming, feedback and maybe even for being guinea pigs if you wish.
Is this 100% original structure?
Glad you asked. No, it isn’t. It’s heavily based on Fichtean Curve, or rather of my interpretation of it. I haven’t come up with a name for it yet so I’m just calling it my Fichtean Curve.
If you Google Fichtean Curve, you’ll get a bunch of articles that talk about it but don’t put it into use. I’m seeing a pattern of every blogger copying the same description of this method which is rather misleading. If you check the original text where the curve was introduced, it’s a lot more interesting than that. So no, I don’t recommend for you to Google it.
What type of story would do well when fit into the Fichtean Curve?
- Internally-driven stories. You can still write an action-filled story with it but if the main point of the story is a change that happens within the character, my Fichtean Curve will work wonders for it.
- Stories that start on the inciting incident. This is where Fichtean Curve solves the problem that other plot structures introduce. You can still use it if it doesn’t start like that but it might not be as useful.
Let’s get to it.
I’m still working on trying to figure out the flow of this process and I’d love it if you joined me and provided your feedback.
Bonus points if you try to analyze your story by using my Fichtean Curve.
STEP 1: What is the inciting incident?
This the event that kicks off the story. Something disturbs the status quo.
STEP 2: What problem does the inciting incident introduce?
It could be a problem or an opportunity.
It creates a Goal for your character.
STEP 3: What is the solution to this problem?
The answer to this question will be a crucial part of your story’s climax - it will be either the highest point of the climax or a point right before it. More about that later.
STEP 4: Imagine Path A.
This is the ideal scenario. In a perfect world, your protagonist would get easily from the Problem introduced by the Inciting incident to the Solution you listed in Step 2.
It’s ultimately the path your character didn’t/couldn’t take and it forms the straight bottom line of the Fichtean Curve.
STEP 5: List all reasons that will keep your character from getting onto Path A.
- Villains and all forms of antagonistic forces.
- Internal conflict. Your character wants something but fears consequences of pursuing it.
- Secrets. Information your character doesn’t know. Knowledge that could help them if only someone told them.
- Character flaws.
- Physical obstacles.
List anything and everything that can get in the way of your character while they’re pursuing their goal.
These will fuel the Crisis points of your Curve. This will also become your go-to list as you write your story.
STEP 6: List what will help your character get to their goal.
- Helpful side characters.
- Positive character traits and strengths.
- Resources they’ll find on their journey.
Now that we have compiled these lists, think of your story as the tug-of-war between the Crises and moments of calm. Your character will have wins and losses, moments of stress and moments of peace.
Remember Path A, the ideal path, the straight line? The ups and downs of your character’s journey is what creates PATH B - the curve. This is the actual story you’re writing.
STEP 7: What’s the point?
This is an extra point that you might not be able to answer until you’ve written your story further or even until you’ve finished it.
You’ll notice that Path B, however hard and painful it was, was actually better for your character. They’ve learned something very important, changed for the better, made friends/lovers or maybe saw through the mask of those around them.
Path B is the more interesting story. If your character took Path A, they would have missed out, or even made catastrophically wrong choices.
So for Step 7, I’d like you to make an argument why it’s better that your character took Path B.
The answer to this question tells you what your story is really about. It’s the ultimate big-picture theme. It’s the point of the story and the message you’re conveying to your readers.
In the subsequent replies I’m going to post a proposed plot outline that uses my Fichtean Curve and how I’d use it on an example, but while I’m finalizing that, I’d love to hear what you think about this approach so far.