Plot has a rhythm that breathes on the page. Sometimes that rhythm goes rogue with a bit of help from the author. Not knowingly, of course, but rogue all the same. Getting stuck on a theme, or bogged down in the ordinary can create a lackluster plot.
If your plot’s gone rogue, there are a few things to analyze to salvage it from the heap. One of the key causes of a plot gone rogue is the lack of solid conflict and tension.
Let’s take a look at a clip from the new show Timeless to get a bit of insight into our stories.
How To Salvage A Plot Gone Rogue 2:
*Place the hero/heroine in the middle of the action. Ask yourself if you have placed your hero/heroine as close to the action as possible. Notice in the clip of Timeless that the heroine is in the same booth with Abraham Lincoln. The writer realized how much more dramatic it would be to place the heroine there.
Removing the hero/heroine too far from the action, can make a plot grow lethargic and dull. Analyze your story and reposition the hero/heroine in the middle of the danger or adventure.
*Create an impossible choice between two competing values. In this clip the heroine is forced to decide whether to let Lincoln die, whom she has admired her whole life, or let him live, changing history forever. She doesn’t know whether her world will be the same, or not. A seemingly impossible choice. This is a part of plot I learned from my mentor Susan May Warren.
*Figure out what your hero/heroine’s fighting for. Recognize that deviating to far from the noble quest will result in a plot without an end point. The great climax will not occur. Slowly escalate tension in increments of least to most intense until you reach the climax.
Deescalating conflict can make for flat plot. Deescalation occurs when rabbit trails are followed away from the main plot. These can include over intensification of issues, unrelated story world or side plots, or even character distractions.