Day 65/90

Hello writerly friends!

Today’s post is a guest post by mareebrittenford about Circular Plots. Take it away, Maree!

A circular plot, at its most basic, is one where the main character ends up right back where they began.

Portal fantasy is a classic example of that, where the story opens with the character in their mundane life, from which they are whisked away to an adventure, but in the end they return to their home, far wiser and more mature.

Heroic quests are another. (If you google the hero’s journey you’ll notice that it’s always charted as a circle.) The character is sent on a quest, and eventually returns home.

But conceptually circular plotting has a far wider application than just portal fantasy or heroic epics. It applies to almost all fiction.

A classic formula for a good opening is that there is a character, in a setting, and they need something.

For me, the circle of the plot isn’t so much about bringing the character back to the specific location where the story began, but back to the question, the need, that the story began with.

The thing is, that need is not always entirely clear initially. Often the initial need of the MC is superficial or momentary. But as you write you get to know the character, and often you realize that the initial superficial need was a reflection of the real deeper need your character has.

And when you feel like you’ve lost the plot of your own novel you can find it again by focusing back on that need your MC has. Is it to be loved? To be useful? To understand? To create something of worth? And then send them after that.

No matter what plot structure you chose to use, there’s no more satisfying ending than when a character circles back to their deepest needs, as established by what they were seeking at the start of the story, and truly answers the question that was asked in the opening.

So ask your character. How do you get what you need?

Originally posted on tumblr: