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See the Current events portal for examples. Wikipedia articles should not list frequently asked questions FAQs. Instead, format the information as neutral prose within the appropriate article s.
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These belong on our sister projects, such as WikibooksWikisourceand Wikiversity. Some kinds of examples, specifically those intended to inform rather than to instruct, may be appropriate for inclusion in a Wikipedia article. A Wikipedia article should not be presented on the assumption that the reader is well-versed in the topic's field. Introductory language in the lead and sometimes the initial sections of the article should be written in plain terms and concepts that can be understood by any literate reader of Wikipedia without any knowledge in the given field before advancing to more detailed explanations of the topic.
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Wikipedia is not a crystal ball. It's easier than you think. The secret is to incorporate the 8 Basic Plot Elements. Starting with your story idea, you only need to make eight choices to ensure the plot of your future novel hangs together in a meaningful way. Then let's get started. I'll describe each of the eight elements in turn. If you already have an idea for a novel you're working on, open your file or get a pad of paper or your writer's notebook.
As you read through the rest of this page, jot down ideas for how each element might work in your story. At the end, I'll show you how to use your choices to create a brief, well-rounded plot outline for your novel. If you don't have an idea for a novel yet, just grab one from your imagination. It doesn't have to be good. It's just an exercise after all. On the other hand, if you already have a draft for a novel, that you're looking to revise, then ask yourself, as we go through these elements, whether you have included them in your story.
Create a plot outline for your novel in the way suggested below. You may find you can strengthen your novel plot considerably by incorporating any plot element you neglected before. Story Goal The first element to include in your plot outline is the Story Goal, which we covered in detail in the previous article, The Key to a Solid Plot: Choosing a Story Goal. To summarize, the plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal.
In this case, we might choose to make the Story Goal for her to find true love before it's too late. There are many ways we could involve other characters in this goal. For instance, we could give our protagonist Forcing the protagonist to work out whether her friend's experience really applies to her — or whether it was just a case of choosing the wrong partner, or bad luck. We could even make the company where the protagonist works in danger of failing because it doesn't appreciate the importance of family.
It could be losing good employees to other companies that do. In other words, after we have chosen a Story Goal, we will build a world around our protagonist that includes many perspectives on the problem and makes the goal important to everyone in that world. That's why choosing the Story Goal is the most important first step in building a plot outline. If you haven't chosen a goal for your novel yet, do so now. Make a list of potential goals that fits the idea you are working on.
Then choose choose one goal to base your plot outline on. The Consequence is the negative situation or event that will result if the Goal is not achieved. Avoiding the Consequence justifies the effort required in pursuing the Story Goal, both to the characters in your novel and the reader, and that makes it an important part of your plot outline.
The combination of goal and consequence creates the main dramatic tension in your plot. It's a carrot and stick approach that makes the plot meaningful.
In some stories, the protagonist may begin by deciding to resolve a problem or pursue a goal. Later, that goal becomes more meaningful when he discovers that a terrible consequence will occur if he fails. As Melanie Anne Phillips points out, in some stories the consequence seems to be in effect when the story opens.
Perhaps the evil despot is already on the throne and the Story Goal is to depose him. In that case, the consequence, if the protagonist fails, is that things will stay the way they are. In our novel plot about the female executive, we've already come up with one possible Consequence — that she could end up like her spinster aunt.
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We could make the Consequence worse perhaps the aunt dies of starvation because she is feeble and has no immediate family looking after her. Or we could create a different Consequence. Her employer may go bankrupt unless it becomes more family-friendly.
Write a list of possible Consequences you could have in your plot outline. Then choose one to be the counterpoint to your chosen Story Goal.
Requirements The third element of your plot outline, Requirements, describes what must be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. You can think of this as a checklist of one or more events. As the Requirements are met in the course of the novel, the reader will feel the characters are getting closer to the attainment of the goal.
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Requirements create a state of excited anticipation in the reader's mind, as he looks forward to the protagonist's success. What could the Requirements be in our executive story?
Well, if the goal is for our protagonist to find true love, perhaps she will need to join a singles club or dating service so she can meet single men. Perhaps she will need to take a holiday or leave of absence from her job.
Ask yourself what event s might need to happen for the goal in your novel to be achieved. List as many possibilities as you can think of. To keep things simple for the moment, just choose one requirement for now to include in your plot outline. Forewarnings Forewarnings are the counterpart to requirements.
While requirements show that the story is progressing towards the achievement of the goal, forewarnings are events that show the consequence is getting closer. Forewarnings make the reader anxious that the consequence will occur before the protagonist can succeed.
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In the plot outline for our story, events that could constitute Forewarnings might be While the Story Goal and Consequences create dramatic tension, Requirements and Forewarnings take the reader through an emotional roller coaster that oscillates between hope and fear.
There will be places in the plot where it seems the protagonist is making progress, and others where it seems that everything is going wrong. Structure these well, and you will keep your reader turning pages non-stop. For example, here's how our plot outline might look so far But she has a wake-up call when her elderly, spinster aunt dies alone and neglected consequence.
The executive decides that she needs to have a family before she suffers the same fate goal. In order to do this, she hires a dating service and arranges to go on several dates requirements. But each date ends in disaster forewarnings. And we're only halfway through our 8 plot elements!
Of course, we started with the four most important ones. Notice too that these elements come in pairs that balance each other.