View Full Version : How to make my plot linear?

06-09-2016, 08:07 PM
Even though i have been working on this plot for several months now i still feel like it jumps around to much. I mean here:

The events of Pyramidion - Your memories erased by the trauma of your ship’s plummet into the sands of a deep desert, Rangers patrolling from one of the Iron Line’s most remote outposts rescue you from the wreckage of your craft.

You return with the Rangers to the outpost. On the way, they are attacked by a Nexoid patrol and save a remote settlement from a Nexoid attack. The survivors return with you to the outpost, fleeing the remains of their decimated home.
When you arrive Commander Fenrir commends you on your battle prowess, and welcomes you to the outpost. Another Iron Line outpost falls under attack by the Nexoid and all nearby Protectorate forces are summoned to defend it. You choose to aid in its defense.
The attack repelled, the Protectorate holds a forum to discuss the recent Nexoid attacks. Because of the assistance you provided during the defense, you are invited to participate. Fenrir vouches for a counter-attack to push the Nexoid away from the colonies. It is agreed.
You join teams of Rangers for a campaign led by Fenrir to attack Nexoid positions throughout the lands. In the wake of this offensive, attacks on Iron Line outposts and the colonies temporarily abate.
While patrolling a remote region, a group of Rangers report the discovery of a dilapidated human research facility. Their communications make it clear they suspect the facility is of significant value. In another forum, you advise investigating the base while the Nexoid are at bay, but Fenrir orders the fireteams to regroup at the outpost to reinforce gaps left by Rangers killed during his offensive.
You are contacted by a new faction, the Shattered Sun Cult. They recruit you to loot the research facility, and retrieve information on Nexoid encryption they believe to be contained within. Once inside, the team is ambushed by Nexoid forces. You are the only survivor.
You return to the Iron Line, finding the entire facility abuzz with news of a recently discovered ship graveyard. You join the recon missions, discover a Nexoid ship, and retrieve its data core.
Back at the Iron Line once again, Protectorate cryptanalysts successfully crack the Nexoid encryption, giving them access to the data core. Its fragmentary records contain coordinates located in Old Europe.
The Protectorate dispatches multiple fireteams to assault the location, which is revealed to be an ancient War Bunker acting as a Nexoid stronghold. The first fireteam to venture into the Bunker disappears, their final transmission containing descriptions of an impossibly powerful machine leading the Nexoid invasion of Earth.
You join another fireteam and breach the Bunker to confront this Nexoid Overmind.

You see, the first 5 entries are okay i guess, but then it starts to go here, there, there, here, What can i do to make this more linear?

06-09-2016, 09:13 PM
Provide some periodic answers or hints related thereto regarding the first questions encountered by your readers . . . How much of your MC's memories are erased? Do any glimmers of recovered memories occur (perhaps inspired by any subsequent/tangential incidents)? Why did the MC's ship plummet in the first place? Is there an unknown/unidentified enemy or threat focused on your MC?

You have an underlying story arc, but your outline seems to be ignoring it--dangle some hints or answers to keep your readers' interest up during the episodic adventures your MC experiences. Let the tension related the the story arc (and the MC's frustration) escalate. Craft your climax to resolve any and all loose ends.

06-09-2016, 10:38 PM
Hello, well all of the mc's memories are lost except for a recurring vision about a ship detonating an antimatter bomb near mars but that is all, and that he does not even know what it means.

As for his ship plumeting, i have no idea yet why it crashed or even who the mc is. You mentioned dangling hints in the outline, how?

06-10-2016, 01:07 AM
You can't offer readers hints or answers to those initial (often inferred) questions if you (the author) haven't worked them out for yourself to some degree.

I suspect you'll need a bit more of an (underlying) arc outline (in addition to your provided episodic outlines) to provide some structure to the overall tale. Think of it as a tree trunk and the episodic adventures as the outgrowing limbs. Each episode should provide the MC with some sort of key/clue that provides potential resolution to those burning questions that should be haunting your MC (done well, they should be haunting your readers, too). Your MC should be trying to get to the root of his problems--who is he and why is he here?

Only the author can provide the answers. How the author does so is the essence of the craft.

Do not get discouraged. You may not yet be aware, but you already have these answers. You need only let them find their way to the page.

06-10-2016, 01:59 AM
Remember that if you do your first draft correctly, your plot will be battered at the end. By the second draft you won't even recognize the poor thing. In other words, sure, get down the basics but don't dwell - odds are your characters and inspiration will be kicking things apart in no time. Things will get linear as you write, and in some cases end up down a black hole. No sense sweating the details at this point. Might want to start writing and see what happens from there.

06-10-2016, 02:31 AM
Three words, You, Are, Right. :) I think i will try to pose answers to questions that are indicated in the story. Thank you for your help!

06-10-2016, 02:36 AM
You are right on that, only thing is, this is my second draft, and i am trying to connect the story's episodes in a way that makes sense. For example, After the attack on the Iron Line outpost the next episode is a retaliation, and it makes sense, but also connects the current episode to a new one. Rather from the Shattered Sun Cult, things get hectic. :(

06-10-2016, 11:23 PM
Well, everybody does draft stages differently, but for me the second draft is a time to fret over the general plot, so assuming that you use your second drafts for actually plotting out the story, then you're doing the right thing to connect the dots. Cause And Effect can be a real pain. Sometimes you have to back up and realize that your cause isn't worth the direction you're forced down. That said, maybe (and I'm just tossing guesses here) what you lack is a main theme to tie things together - and this often has less to do with the actions in your world (which you can always re-arrange) and more to how your character evolves toward a determined goal that might be stated at the beginning or at least implied. Goals may also be implicit - my current WIP is more about having the character reach a final reconciliation with what happened early in their life. This is made quite apparent at the beginning by the character's state of mind, and the actions are more about leading down this path of redemption than being an end to any external goal - though of course ye olde Cause And Effect tends to give some theme to that, too. The point here is that you should be free to re-arrange your actions as needed to move the story as a cohesive whole. Don't fall in love with this historical terror you've created (g).

06-11-2016, 03:55 AM
That sounds like a good way to do this. i think that i will try it the way you are saying.

06-11-2016, 10:32 AM
I'm a little unclear on what you mean by "linear". Chronologically? Or just a single plot line moving forward, like a train pulling a hundred freight cars? Most novels I read have things going on simultaneously, and the trick in narrative is to relate these in a sensible way without horrid violations of point-of-view. So a good deal of this matter seems to me to depend on POV choice.


06-13-2016, 08:08 PM
The main character is the engine that drives the story. There is an external goal (actually sometimes the external goal changes later in the story, but that is fine as long as at any given point of the story there is a main goal) and an internal goal for your MC. The main character should have a goal that they have to have urgently. If they don't have something they desperately want, they won't do whatever it is they have to do to grow over the course of the story. If they grow over the course of the story they will learn something about themselves and make a choice (theme). It is this internal growth and change that gives the story a resonance and meaning. It is what gives that feeling of satisfaction to the reader. Otherwise you are just left with a bunch of scenes that hardly mean anything. Every story should be connected together somehow and have a point.

In the movie the Lord of the Rings there was a scene right before when Frodo leaves the company of his friends. Boromir tries to take the ring of power from him. He is killed by Orcs and confesses what he did to Aragorn. Each of these characters wants something (the ring, safety for their people). There is no doubt what that thing is. Boromir realizes at the last that he was wrong to try and take the ring (which made the scene tragic because he learns a life lesson right before he dies). Now imagine that entire battle scene without the Boromir scene. It would not have been even close to as memorable.It would have been cool special effects, and a lot of fighting, but would have been easy to forget without Boromir trying to attain what he wanted most of all and failing and learning something about himself. Now granted, he wasn't the main character, but the point remains the same. All major characters in your story should know exactly what they want. This creates a dynamic story.

My recommendations are:

1. Spend some more time developing your Main Character. What you wrote down hardly tells me anything about who he is. Why should I spend the # of hours I likely will spend bonding together with this character/ seeing the world through his eyes? Why do I care anything at all about what happens to him? And I should care a lot otherwise I will drop your novel like a hot potato. I don't have to like him, but I do need to care about what happens to him.


2. Determine what it is the MC wants and make sure that it is a significant enough want. If the MC doesn't want it badly enough, then there will be no reason to go through all the difficult trials he will need to go through to get it. And if he doesn't go through tough trials he won't grow. And if he doesn't grow he won't learn anything about life/himself. Your MC seems more like a side note to the plot. Very interesting ideas, mind, but those ideas won't matter without the MC.

Hope this helps!

06-14-2016, 06:42 AM
Sorry i lost contact for a few days, had an emergency. Yes i mean moving like a freight train. I am aiming for a narrative that goes smoothly from one place to another without jumping around. I see what you mean though about point of view, and i will definitely take that into consideration when designing the plot. Thanks!

06-14-2016, 06:46 AM
You sound like a really good writer. As for developing the main character, i will definitely apply your advice. I was intending to add the theme you stated, but it was not included in the plot summary above. In my future update to this plot i will include the information that defines the character like you advised. thank you for your insight!

06-24-2016, 06:33 PM
I really don't think of myself as a really good writer (yet!) but perhaps I will be someday. I've just read a lot of books on writing craft. I probably have over 300 of those types of books in my library. I haven't read all of them. Maybe 2/3?