So I’m working on his horror story, which I don’t write very often, and I decided I could do worse than use the blueprint taught by the late horror writer Karl Largent, who claimed he cribbed it from Rod Serling. Karl also believed that JAWS was just about perfectly plotted and directed, which is why there are a certain number of fishing references in the blueprint.
- Commencement – Set the stage. Set the hook. Show protagonist in the everyday world so reader will identify with him/her. Make it intriguing and not too long.
- Quandary – Show the protagonist’s problem. Let protagonist vacillate between two or more possibilities. Karl Largent says the best plots present a conflict between two goods or two evils, not good against evil. He says that’s too easy.
- Commitment – Protagonist chooses a course of action.
- Transition – Move people around. Change the setting. Largent says he moves from where he first unfolds the story to where the action takes place. Ashore to shark boat.
- Encounter (action) alternating with Moratorium (reaction) – Let each encounter raise the stakes.
- Culmination – final encounter, protagonist versus antagonist. One must win and the other must lose.
- Consolation (optional)
I probably won’t follow the blueprint, because I tend to be a “this board looks like it might fit here” kind of builder, but it helps me think, for want of a better word.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Outline a plot using this blueprint. Let there be sharks.