Wattys Bootcamp Mentorship Workshop: Come On In & Learn About Plot & Structures (Closed for New Submissions)

Hi there and thanks for checking out our first summer workshop to help you get your stories Wattys ready. This workshop is open to everyone who wants to learn about the craft.

How does this work? From Monday to Friday of this week, we will post a new lesson every day that teaches you about Plot & Structure. After each lesson, you have 24 hours to post the “homework” for each class for feedback. Then we are off to the next section.

The workshops are run by the Bootcamp Mentorship team and this week’s lessons were prepared by my co-host @neverfakeit .

Of course you can also ask questions if anything is unclear. We are here to help :slight_smile:

Tagging some folks from from prior workshops to get the ball rolling:

@AgathaLambert @Alwyn_Knighton @ariel_paiement1 @Bezaunungieye @Birdpaw @booklored @caCrisostomo @Cat_Walker @CynkNapp @Di_Rossi @DragonFreakGaming78 @elisemariel @ellieerose_ @evacharya @fallynsinclair @ganbaruby @GandalfofspaceAnli @GenoGlitch_01 @hchladybug1218 @HeraHarker @Hollie_Wilson @hottiesoftie @intricate_labyrinth @Jenivalwrites @JessEubanks @Johneverex @KessandraRenee @LigiaNunes @littleLion4321 @LittleSharkXD @lola12033 @Loutka @MarilynVix @MaryLion25 @MissBelleVincent @MissJina @MoonlightHunter3 @moonraess @NDeMeer @NinaArthur @Reader_life2017 @risen_phoenix @SAMiAMiz @ScarlettBlackDaisy @SquishBeanie @Sunehraokwala @tale_a_grammer @The_delusionist @Themewriter21 @trima_r @wordscassata @Wryneck @MochaVonBee @Silenesea6 @DomiSotto @Adairx @Glory_feeling2 @floranocturna @SammiBSykes @hetachokshi @HannWhee @Chrysbliss @Nablai @Scaren @doofinshzmertz5 @houseofmirrors @TCK613 @LACannon @Eternalautumnfire @chieftaytay @Kamiccola @talia_8 @AmiTheDarkLady @sour_candyx @EleanorMay29 @Val_Good @DontStealMyCake @ShinobiSakura @bffhiz111 @ofthedeep @allysun3417 @Beevah @Hollie_Wilson @abusiveblueberries @itz_Badria @novelsandchocolate1 @calidacolburn

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Lesson 1:

Act I:

Plot and Structure by definition: Plot is the series of events that make up your story, including the order in which they occur and how they relate to each other. Structure is the overall design or layout of your story. When discussing plot and structure, you will also hear these terms: Story Arc, Narrative Arc, or Plot Clock.

A Plot Clock is used to break up a story into four acts, with each act featuring important markers in the narrative. If each milestone is met at the proper time and carried out with the finesse, your story will maintain the right amount of action, pacing and intrigue to satisfy your readers and have them singing your praises well after they close your book.

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Main Components: The first act includes the Introduction , the Hook , the Inciting Incident , and the Binding Point or First Plot Point .

Introduce your characters and their world. It’s often beneficial to have your readers care about the protagonist before the Hook . Most writers know how important a hook is to draw readers in. This could be a killer opening line, the protagonist experiencing a life-changing event, a cliffhanger at the end of chapter 1.

After you have introduced your characters, have painted the world they live in, and have hooked your reader, it’s time to complicate things with the Inciting Incident . The protagonist is confronted with a situation and attempts to resolve it. There is likely angst and pushback, or maybe there is excitement and hope if the incident is a positive one. Either way, this is the pivotal moment when your protagonist is forced to change course; to make a choice. In the process - Bam! - their life is changed. This marks the Binding Point or First Plot Point and signals the end of Act 1.

Example for Act 1: The Hobbit

Introduction to our protagonist and the world: We meet Bilbo Baggins, who is enjoying some alone time in his hobbit hole. He likes the familiarity and comforts of his life.

Hook: Bilbo is visited by Gandalf, a wizard who is responsible for taking so many quiet lads and lasses on mad adventures. Through his cleverness, Gandalf attempts to lure Bilbo on an adventure.

Inciting Incident: The Dwarves show up on Bilbo’s doorstep, take over his home, and tell him they need a burglar to steal a precious treasure from a dragon’s lair, essentially luring him further into Galdalf’s clever plan.

First Plot Point or Binding Point: After initially refusing, Bilbo accepts the job of burglar, which raises a dramatic question that needs to be answered by the climax. Given Bilbo’s non-adventurous nature, will he be a good burglar? Will he survive his adventure?

Given Bilbo's non-adventurous nature, will he be a good burglar? Will he survive his adventure?

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"Homework Assignment" for feedback:

So now that you know all about Introduction, Hook, Inciting Incident, and Frist Plot Point, we want to hear how you applied this in your story:

Who is your protagonist and their world?

What is your hook? When does it occur?

Your Inciting Incident? Let’s hear it. How far does the reader have to go to reach that point?

And finally, what is your first plot or binding point? Are you about a quarter into the story?

Please make sure to copy @neverfakeit or myself in your answers to get your feedback :slight_smile:

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@SallyMason1 @neverfakeit

In Tales of the Vangen, the primary protagonist of the story is Libro, the record keeper for the Royal Guard. While the PoV follows him and three other guardsmen, Libro is considered the primary protagonist. While the continent is not mentioned, the primarily location centers on Byzantia, the Capital city of which the center of the Empire revolves around. While other places are mentioned, such as the kingdoms Macedonibus, Austerland and Keevan Rahs, Byzantia sits as the major setting in the story.

The hook happens in the first paragraph when an imperial courier arrives at the Vangen Camp with a letter bearing the Empresses seal. The letter states that the Vangen must capture a heavily fortified hill held by rebels in three days. A feat later discussed as being near impossible.

The inciting incident happens when the Captain of the Vangen calls everyone together and states why they have to take the hill in three days. The Empress came to him in a dream, stating that the Black Ministry, a cabal of Sorcerers that supposedly served the Empire, has turn traitor against the Empress. Three days is all the time they have before the Sorcerers begin their attack.

The binding point happens when the Vangen eventually wipe the hill off the face of the map after using a magical device procurred by the Vangen’s magician, not realizing the true power it contained when they launched it at the rebel encampment on the hill. With the rebels wiped out, the Vangen pick up and march back to the Capital.

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MC - Aeleva, she is a simple farm girl living in England 792 AD. She is taken to Denmark by raiders who have burned her village.

Hook - village burning down, her half attempts at fighting the men, her family being killed :frowning:

Inciting incident - She is made to fight a young girl as the girls rite of passage to be a shield-maiden, but actually ends up killing her when the MC was expected to be killed (the whole point of the MC being taken)

First plot point - MC is now to train to be a shield-maiden and fight in the feuds of the lands. The Earl who took her wants to reclaim his fathers city, which was taken. The Earl is kind to his people and the MC struggles with her feelings towards him. Especially when sexuality is viewed differently in the new lands. Will she learn the ways of the Danes? Will she keep her Christian faith? Will she survive?

@SallyMason1 @neverfakeit

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Hello and thanks for joining the workshop.

I do feel that your hook and inciting incident were well thought out, but I’m wondering if the scene you described is really your first plot point. Usually, it’s a turning point in the story with the protagonist facing a challenge with a potential of failure. Questions are often raised that gets answered later in the plot. Here, your protagonists seem to have won a major battle and wipe out the opposition before marching back to the Capital. This almost sounds like the wrap-up. What is the challenge they are facing afterward? What are the stakes if they fail? How does this drive the plot toward the half way mark?

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Question about your hook: When does this happen (which chapter and start/end of the chapter)?

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That is a very good point, the wrap up moment does conclude act 1 of the story. The challenge afterward is the Vangen having to invade their own Capital City and stopping the Sorcerers. If we are to expand the binding point into the other acts, then the binding point for Libro would be later on when he is forced to lead his own group of soldiers having no experience what so ever. The binding point occurs when the bridge he’s crossing collapses and he falls into the water, appearing to have drowned as he’s swept into the current. Luckily, he finds himself alive in the city sewers, having been saved by the Empress and her mystical abilities.

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The raid and burning of the village is first chapter, the reader is thrown into it.

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After your explanation, I do think it works as conclusion of act I. In itself, the binding point sounds like the calm before and after a storm. Your story sounds like it has quite a few tense scenes that drive the plot forward. This type of format works quite well for me. Thanks for sharing.

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@neverfakeit @SallyMason1

Who is your protagonist and their world? Leo is an assassin turned vigilante. He spends his time taking on jobs that target those who think they’re above the law. He takes on the worst of the worst, ending serial killers, rapists, and thugs disguising themselves as the elite of society.

What is your hook? The hook comes at the very beginning of act one when he’s in the middle of infiltrating his next target’s castle to take the noble out. He’s almost in the room where the man is when he realizes someone else who isn’t supposed to be there is in the room with the Marquess. He has to decide: go back on the oath he swore that he’d never allow collateral damage again, leave and come back another night, or rescue the Marquess’s unwilling female companion.

Your Inciting Incident? Let’s hear it. He knows the woman in the room with the Marquess will be raped if he doesn’t do something, and his entire goal as a vigilante is to protect the helpless and innocent from those who would harm them. This girl is both and in danger.

And finally, what is your first plot or binding point? After initially turning to leave, Leo is unable to bear the thought of leaving her to her fate. He returns for the woman, leaving himself in a terrible bind because for the first time since he stepped out from under the protection of the Assassin Guild’s umbrella, he has a witness on his hands. With the king’s men on his tail, they’ll be looking for a crack in his armor. Will she be that crack? Or will he manage to overcome the risk he’s taken?

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Thank you!

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@SallyMason1 @neverfakeit

Who is your protagonist and their world?

A human earthling man from North America (Arlow Tsai) visits galactic planets and other planes of existence. A bit Douglas Adams, a bit Robert Asprin, a bit Phil Foglio; but in a multiverse that that is unique from them all.

What is your hook?

Copies of Arlow Tsai (Great Guy, Really!!) start to appear in various places around the multiverse. Something that confuses everyone from Ascendant beings and wide realm empaths.

Your Inciting Incident? Let’s hear it.

The universe is not always kind. What can happen when just the right words are delivered at the right moment?

And finally, what is your first plot or binding point?

Powerful, elegant, space aliens (the LAN) visit planet Wroug (space aliens that are content to just stay where they are). One Wroug girl needs help. The social conventions of both planets are at odds. Arlow Tsai drops out of Wroug sky from inside a glimmering sphere (at a complete loss as to why he is not on the bicycle trail).

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I think that is a really strong (even if gory) hook, especially if you also manage to have readers bond with the character. Both your inciting incident and first plot point seem to drive the story forward. The main thing to watch out for is that you reach that spot after about a quarter of the book to ensure your pacing is on track.

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Ok thank you so much! I think it is just under a quater

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Hi @SallyMason1 abd @neverfakeit,

Thanks so much for doing this… Thought I knew the answers but the exercise was more difficult than expected :joy:

Sixteen-year-old Kit lives in a deadbeat Irish town in the 90s. She does everything with her two best friends and doesn’t want anyone else in the group, least of all, way-too-cheery-new-guy, Tully.

When Tully rescues one of her friends, Kit is forced to accept it won’t be easy to keep him out of the group, but it doesn’t mean she can’t try…

Kit has a crush on up-and-coming singer, Mac Whitehead, and is thrilled when he and his band decide to spend the summer in her home town. Tully, who dreams of becoming a musician, is also enthusiastic. Both are convinced this is their chance to get in with the band.

According to local tradition, if they can wake a sleeping god on the Celtic feast of Lunasa, he might just grant their dearest wish. None of them really believe the old legend is true, but they can’t resist putting it to the test…

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Protagonist: Jo Rice left home when she was 17yrs old. Her father’s death sees her return home for the first time in seven years.

Hook: As a child her and her brother venture into the wood and are met by a horrible monster. Years of therapy have convinced Jo that it was the lobo wolf that was caught in the woods a few days later.

Inciting Incident: A child goes missing in the woods of Jo’s hometown.

Binding Point: Jo joins the search parties being formed to sweep the woods for the missing child. Stepping away from civilization for the first time since that terrifying night when she was just a girl, Jo wonders if her therapist was right or if the truth is something more sinister.

@neverfakeit @SallyMason1

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Hi Ariel, it’s great to see you here.

I think you have a good grasp on the concept of hook, inciting incident and first plot point, but the way you described them within your narration, they seem to almost overlap. How many chapters does it take to get from one point to the next? When do readers get to the hook? I’m worried about pacing if these events unfold within a couple of chapters, so could you clarify?

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@neverfakeit

I must say, I’m not loving the Plot Clock. It seems pretty limiting and generalized.

But let’s give this a go and see how my story fits into this clock. The first act is pretty universal for all plotting methods anyway.

Who is your protagonist and their world?
Merlin is an elderly, world-renowned magus who’s also a half-demon and has a rare gift of seeing the future - a gift he keeps secret.

What is your hook?
Something he saw in his visions prompted him to build a time machine.

Your Inciting Incident? Let’s hear it.
His time machine did not work as expected. Instead of taking him back in time, it aged him back to his teens and stripped off his memories.

And finally, what is your first plot or binding point?
Mistaken for a burglar in his own house, Merlin is on the run from the law. He runs into a young half-demon who takes pity on him and helps him out.

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