Plot & Structure Exercise 3: Quick and Dirty

Today’s exercise calls for four lines, one for each of the LOCK element, on your next novel. Well, well! I do have a next novel idea, which I really (really) want to be plotty. Like I might as well get the thing down pat. Butterflies, remember? Gossamer wings. Plot of land. Foundation. Fundamental. Let’s go.


. . .


My lead is a 39 year old philosophy professor, once an admired celebrity, now a has-been. He rose to fame in his youth for his discovery, translation, and analysis of a lost text of Aristotle’s — his Comedia. To share this discovery Professor Juan Saudade toured the world, continued his work as a university rock star, and married the woman of his dreams.


Unfortunately for the professor, the woman of his dreams did not love him back. His fame burned itself out, when he failed to make further contributions. And after ten years of having it all, he ends up just another dorky losery professor, down and out. On top of that he blew it with his best friend. The novel starts here, with a midnight reunion between the ex-best friend and the professor.


His objective is to apologize to his friend, but the friend won’t listen. The friend bursts into his home in the middle of the night, so as to hear the story start to finish, of how they fell off. It isn’t enough for Juan to say I’m sorry. He must confess his crimes. In life, overall, he wants to get back to the way things were. A mistake because he should be trying to move on, to how things ought to be.


He is confronted by his friend, who is there like a ghost of friendship past, correcting the errors in his narrative. The friend represents the truth. He is a photographer. And he needs to hear his ex-friend say I’m sorry, but doesn’t make it easy. On top of that the ex-friend is a world-renowned photographer — and this success pisses the professor off. What is stronger, friendship or jealousy? It will take a fight to determine which.


The ending will be a knockout, when the friend and Juan finish telling the whole story of how they fell apart. It was Juan’s promiscuity and the friend’s jealousy which proved stronger than their relationship. The ex-friend had really loved his friend all along, like really-really loved him. Juan doesn’t know how to handle this. But he knows he has to get a divorce. Start over. Etc. So, with the sun coming up, after a long night of storytelling, Juan takes his friend to the airport where they catch a flight to where they had forked paths long ago.


If you have filled in the blanks, you have the skeleton for a solid novel. The rest of this book will help you flesh it out. Let’s hope, Mr Bell. I’m all in with you.

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