Congratulations! Not only have you decided you want to write a story, but you’ve also decided to take the first creative steps to figuring out your story! Let’s begin.
If you’re like me, a random thought big banged it’s way into existence and ideas started forming. Other’s are tasked with coming up with an idea from scratch. Either way there is a bunch of information on how to streamline the creative process, but I will be focusing here on the 8 point story circle method that I learned from the one and only Dan Harmon (Although it existed long before he came onto the scene.)
Essentially, you have a circle that you’ve divided into quarters. Then you number the lines and spaces so that, from the top, it goes from 1-8.
As you can see, each of the 8 spots should represent a pivotal point in any story. My Comic B.U.D. is about an AI robot coming online during the zombie apocalypse so…
- Bud is inside his lab.
- Bud desires to help people.
- Bud leaves his lab to explore the known world outside. Because of his inexperience in a zombie infested world, Bud encounters hardships
- Through these hardships, Bud learns how to better exist within his new surroundings
- Bud finds what he was looking for, people to help.
- But it comes with a price. For Bud, he learns that not all people are capable of being helped. However, the price can be the death of a friend or anything to make the success of the main character bitter sweet.
- Things return to the familiar. For Bud it’s helping rebuild society back up.
- Bud is not the same robot he was when he first started his journey. He’s more confident and self actualized.
Now, let’s try creating a story outline from scratch!
First we need a main character! I just ordered some pizza, so my main character is a pizza delivery guy.
- What is my pizza delivery guy like? Well let’s see, when I think of the pizza deliveries I have received, the guys always seem to be unenthusiastic pot smokers. (Im not trying to disparage the pizza guys of the world. This is just based off of my experiences.) So we have a pizza guy who makes deliveries just to support him staying at home and playing video games, getting high, and eating pizza. Comfort zone.
- What does my pizza guy desire? A girlfriend? To lose weight? maybe it’s just living an overall more fulfilling life.
- Now that our character has a desire, he needs to travel outside his comfort zone to search for what he wants. Maybe our Pizza guy was a college drop out so he goes back to college. Maybe he wants to combine his love of weed and pizza to open his very own marijuana pizza kitchen. This is where you need to figure out where your character will go to try to get what he desires. I have decided my pizza guy wants to impress a girl he likes by creating a brand of Marijuana infused pizza for a pizza contest with a cash prize. Since this is new territory for my pizza delivery guy, he’s going to mess up. A lot. Hopefully in hilarious or heart string pulling ways.
- After messing up a few times in plot point 3, maybe because his mom accidentally eats a weed pizza or someone sabotages his recipe, plot point 4 is where our pizza guy turns his luck around by learning how to adapt to the new environment in which he is trying to achieve his desire. Maybe he realizes who his real friends are and who not to trust his secret recipe to.
- Our pizza guy finally get’s what he wanted. He wins that pizza contest he’s been working so hard on.
- But at what cost? Maybe our pizza guy was so afraid of losing that he started to ignore his friends who helped get him there. He has an award winning pizza, but no one to celebrate with.
- Our Pizza guy goes back home saddened by not being happy with achieving his desire because he has no one to share it with and so picks up right where he left off. Weed pizza and video games.
- But things aren’t going to be the same. Our character has been through some shit and is not the same person he was before his journey. Perhaps our story ends with his alienated friends receiving a mysterious invitation in the mail and when they arrive it’s for our pizza guy’s pizza in his brand new store “Pizzajuana and Gamez” where they all enjoy a slice and live happily ever after (until the sequel.)
What we are left with is a story about an apathetic pizza delivery guy who wants to impress a girl he likes by entering a pizza making competition. In his pursuit he learns from his mistakes and ultimately wins, but loses his friends and the girl in the process. He asks for forgiveness by inviting them all to his brand new Pizza and videogames restaurant where they live happily ever after.
See that? It’s easy to create a skeleton for your story using these 8 plot points, but remember, it’s just a rough outline. It’s your creative writing style that’s going to give the story it’s meat and muscles.
Get familiar with the 8 point plotting circle by comparing it to any of your favorite films. I think you’ll notice that almost every story uses these plot points to a certain degree.
Hopefully you found this helpful to your writing. It would mean a lot to me if you help support my blog by sharing these posts! I love feedback so please comment here or reach out to me on Twitter @m0nkeyfire (0 = The number zero)