Step Four: Plan

THE ANATOMY OF STORY, by John Truby, contains seven steps to building a great story structure. Step four is the Plan.

The plan is the guidelines or strategies the hero will use to overcome his opponent and reach the goal. It’s organically linked to both desire and the opponent. Sometimes it’s vague, and the hero muddles through it. Sometimes it’s so complex, the hero has to write it down (thus sharing it with the reader). Without the plan, there’s no moving forward in the story.

HAMLET’S desire is to bring about justice for his father’s murder. His opponent is the current king, who happens to be the murderer. Hamlet’s plan is to put on a play that mimics the murder of his father by the current king. He will then prove the king’s guilt by the king’s reaction to the play.

In THE GODFATHER, Michael’s desire is to protect his family from other mafia crime families. His opponents are the other crime families who’d like to control crime in New York. Michael’s first plan is to kill Sollozzo. His second plan is to kill the heads of the other mafia families in a single strike.

This step is easy enough to understand, so there’s no point in offering a technique for achieving it. Just go put a plan in your story.

-Sonja

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