So I’m studying some book plots in hopes of gaining insight into my own WIP. And I’m taking a workshop that encourages writers to use this model for the main plot:
Protagonist has a specific goal, with high stakes, and takes continuous actions to pursue that goal. An antagonist takes intentional, continuous steps to block the protagonist from reaching his/her goal.
Sounds good, right? Two equal forces, pitted against each other, maximizing conflict and tension throughout the story. Readers learn about and presumably root for characters by witnessing the lengths to which they will go to achieve their goals. Subplots occur that may round out, strengthen, or weaken either the protagonist or the antagonist.
With this in mind, how would you articulate the plot of Gary Schmidt’s Okay for Now, which Jackie mentioned is on the NBA short list. What is Doug Swieteck’s main goal? Who intentionally wants to block him from that goal? What actions does Doug take to achieve his goal?
Seems to me that Doug has two main goals: to fit into his new town and for his Dad not to be such a jerk. The story doesn’t end until he’s accomplished both of these, but already I’ve broken the mold outlined above. Plus, Doug encounters a series of opposing forces, rather than just one antagonist.
What models would you use to parse this plot? Which goal carries more weight in the story? Or do you see a different main goal? What would you say is the main plot? Vs. the subplots?
No wrong answers. Just looking for ideas…