The Journey to a Bestseller: Essential Scenes in Every Story- Part Three- React/Second Battle and Chekov’s Gun/Formatting Manuscripts (Series #15)

Hey guys. Pretty simple post today. I was busy with client work all week and haven’t had time to write a thing for myself. But, I don’t want to keep you from learning about the story structure, so let me talk about the part I will be writing this week.

I believe last week we talked about the midpoint. It helps to look, I know. Lol. So, our characters have made the shift from reacting to the weird new environment around them, to having stakes in the game. They’ve gone from victim to reluctant warrior. They still aren’t sure they want to be a hero, but right now it seems like the least painful option for getting what they want. In our case, for Wyll to get back home, and take Sira with him.

Don’t forget between these plot points to have the characters REACT. They need to think about what happened and how it affects them in order to make a plan for going forward. They need to accept their role, and if there’s a love story, it needs to start tingling.

The plot points that I am talking about are called rising action. In a story diagram, the plot points are ramping the action up, then they react and the story slows down a bit, only to rise even higher with the next point. It should look something like this:

Now that we’ve hit the midpoint, your plot points need to aim higher, hit harder, be more exciting and interesting to keep your reader on the roller coaster. Along with this, make sure your chapter endings have hooks.

What do I mean by that? Never end your chapter at the end of a scene, or when a character goes to bed. If your reader is up with a reading light on and it’s midnight, they will say, “Oh good. A stopping point.” Then they will stop reading and go to sleep. Your goal is to make a book that the reader can’t put down. Every time they close your book, there is a chance they won’t get back to it. You want them to say, “I’ll be done after this chapter. No, wait, I can’t stop now, I need to know what happens!” That is the greatest accomplishment for books. To be unable to put them down.

So how do you do that? Well. when you finish the scene and it’s natural progression into calm, begin the next scene and just when things ar3e getting interesting, end the chapter. You can end it with a question like, “She knew she couldn’t escape the dark and dirty warehouse, the question was, could the monster get inside?” Or just a statement of intrigue. “He would have to have a talk with her about these texts… and her involvement with the regime. The next time he saw her, he’d corner her; which would be at the gala tonight. He packed his gun.” Now your reader wants to know what he’s going to say and when he sees her at the gala, will he make a scene? Will she? Will she run? What’s he gonna do with that gun?

Photo by on

Also, that reminds me of The Chekhov’s Gun Theory. It basically says, if there is a gun on the mantle piece in the first chapter, it had better go off by the end of the next chapter or so. Meaning, add every bit of the world that’s necessary for the story, but don’t add things just for dramatic effect that have nothing to do with the plot. It makes the reader feel cheated, like you promised them something and didn’t deliver. They are expecting a gunshot since you mentioned the gun. I don’t know if I’m explaining this right.

Wiki says, “Chekhov’s gun (Russian: Чеховское ружьё) is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed; elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play. The statement is recorded in letters by Anton Chekhov several times, with some variation.

Okay. We’ve got that down. Now, let’s move on to the next point, which is the second battle with the bad guy. They will lose again and it will be the protagonist’s fault whether directly or indirectly. This is when they really decide to become a warrior. Because things are not going well for the protagonist. They may confess their love at this point, but the emotion is not returned. Nothing seems to be going the way they had planned. They think, “Can I really do this? Even if I’m threatened? Yes. I will push on…”

In our book, Wyll has snuck out of the kitchen. He doesn’t know where anything is, but he wants to find Sira. Instead he finds the king, who is pleased to see him and glad that he’s not too broken. The king tells him he’s welcome to stay in the castle because in time will be the princess’s betrothed. Wyll is not ready for this at all. And he knows Sira won’t be happy about it. He’s still reeling with the news when he discovers that the people they thought were killed in the meeting, are alive and in the reformatory. He sees this as his opportunity to fix what he’s done and get those people out.

Indigo, the Resistance leader

So he will get a message to the rebel leader, Indigo. And they will put together a plan to rescue the prisoners. Of course, it can’t work out the way it’s supposed to, so I think I’ll have Indigo get away with half of them, and Wyll and his half get re-captured. There goes his opportunity to impress Sira with his daring escape. That should be a pretty big scene, with the planning and the action of moving them out of the reformatory, getting caught and thrown back in. So I’m going to stop here. It will take me awhile to get that done and I have a full week of work ahead.

Indigo’s wife, Malynda.

One thing I wanted to talk to you about is format. If you don’t know how to use Microsoft Word, or a comparable program, you need to watch a You Tube video or something that goes over the functions. Do not press enter at the end of a line, and if you want double spaces, definitely do not press enter twice at the end of your line. And do not indent with the tab or space keys. I know to some, this may sound basic, but I have found a lot of people do not know how to format their manuscripts.

When you begin a document, once you have typed your first paragraph, STOP. Now click on “Select all” and highlight your paragraph. In the “paragraph” section on the “Home” tab, there’s a little box in the lower corner. Click that box and a bigger option box shows up. Under “indentation,” where it says “Special,” click the box and select “First Line.” This will automatically indent the first line of every paragraph. And in the box where it says “Line spacing” click the box and select “double.” This will give your entire document double spacing.

In margins, keep the normal 1-inch margins, and type in 12 point, Times New Roman font. (There are a few other simple fonts that you can choose from, but most publishers want it simple, so I just use Times New Roman unless told differently.) Italicize the character’s inner thoughts. And try to use no more than 1-3 exclamation marks per manuscript. Last thing, put your title/author name in the header on the top right, and add page numbers to your footer on the bottom right or center. You can’t go wrong with this setup and it leaves less formatting to be done later.

I’ve got places to go and stories to read and edit. I’ll see you next weekend!


2 thoughts on “The Journey to a Bestseller: Essential Scenes in Every Story- Part Three- React/Second Battle and Chekov’s Gun/Formatting Manuscripts (Series #15)

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