Playwriting _Part 3

Step 9- Create the Plotlines

With a theme, conflict, characters and an ending decided it is now time to think about creating a plot that will take you from a beginning to an end. This is when you begin to plot your story. It would be unusual if  you had a clear story line at this stage of your writing , so let’s return to the end of the story where we want to find Cinderella in a happier place. In order to achieve this we need to get Cinderella out of the kitchen. How could we do this? Suggestions for getting Cinderella out of the kitchen:

  • Help her to find some money and a map so that she could run away
  • Give her sisters a change of hear
  • Get Cinderella to poison her sisters, steal their frocks and jump into a carriage
  • Invite someone into the story who can help her

 

Step 10- Checking the feasibility of your ideas

Once you have a list of possibilities you can then assess them for feasibility. Let’s take these are our options for getting Cinderella away from the kitchen:

  1. Help her to find some money and a map so that she could run away
  2. The family allow Cinderella to leave
  3. Get Cinderella to poison her sisters, steal their frocks and jump into a carriage
  4. Invite someone into the story who can help her

 

  1. The first option is technically feasible if we want to write a play, a large part of which is about a girl  lost in a forest open to all sorts of dangers
  2. The second option is also feasible but requires a radical change of heart on the part of the siblings. This is okay as long as we accept that this may affect the way in which we examine the theme
  3. Option three, again this is feasible but we need to think about what maltreatment does to people. People who are maltreated or abused lose confidence they may not think escape possible or that they could get away with murder. We also need to think about means. Where would she get the poisons from? Would she know how to handle a carriage? Where would she go when she left?
  4. Given that we have a family colluding in abusing someone, the fourth option of introducing a character to help her is a real possibility. Before choosing this character we need to think about whom this story is aimed. We could make it a story for children by adding a bit of magic. Could the person who will rescue Cinderella from her situation have magical qualities?

 Step 11- Back to the characters

It is important that your characters match the plotlines that you create for them. Take each of your characters, think a bit more about each of them. Give each one a life of their own with histories, life-changing experiences, needs, and desires.

Step 12 -Creating Plotlines for your Characters

Once you have your characters you can think of ways that they can drive the plot forward. This is called creating plot lines. Place your characters up against the plot of the play and visualise this play being set on stage.  Think about what your characters might do. What would the audience see? Below are some examples- note that they all begin with actions,

The Ugly Sisters
  • Laughing at Cinderella as she is doing her work
  • Making Cinderella run errands for them/ Ordering her about
  • Mocking Cinderella because she hasn’t the clothes to go to the ball
Buttons
  • Walks in and sees Cinderella crying – tries to cheer her up
  • Brings news of an invitation to a ball
Cinderella’s’ Step mother
  • Criticising Cinderella
  • Being nasty to Cinderella e.g. she might tip some rubbish that Cinderella has swept up on the floor
  • Tears up Cinderella’s invitation to the ball

Step 13- Ordering the Plotlines

Now you have some of the plot lines you need to place them in some sort of order. There are several ways to do this but I am going to utilise something called the arc of the story. Some people say that stories have the following five parts:

  • Exposition – the character’s normal life, up to the point of the “inciting incident” that pushes them into conflict.
  • Rising Action – the conflicts, struggles, and pitfalls that the character faces while trying to achieve their goals.
  • Climax – the most important part! The point at which all seems possible or impossible, and the character must decide whether to go for the win or take a graceful failure. The turning point of the story where the conflict comes to a head.
  • Falling Action – how things unfold after the climax, the hero wins or loses, all loose ends are tied up, leading to…
  • Denouement – a new balance, normal life once again, but different (or perhaps not so different) from the “normal life” of the character’s exposition.

The next step is to place those plot points you came up with somewhere on the arc, working either backward or forward. Your ending probably falls into the Falling Action or Denouement stage. If you don’t have the Climax itself, think of the resolution you want, and think of the event that would be necessary to create it. All things leading up to that event from the beginning are Rising Action. All things resulting from that event are Falling Action. And all things that don’t fit into either one of those two categories shouldn’t be used in your story, unless it’s in a side plot. For the Cinderella story we can see how our plotlines could be place in the following sections

Exposition
  • Cinders in the kitchen being cruelly treated by her family
  • Cinders being treated kindly by Buttons
Rising Action
  • Button telling Cinders about the invitation to the ball
  • Cinders asking if she can go to the ball
Climax
  • The appearance of the fairy godmother
  • Cinders co-operating with her fairy godmother to get everything she needs for the magic to happen
  • The fairy godmother warning Cinderella about what will happen if she doesn’t leave at midnight
  • Cinderella arriving at the ball and being asked to dance by the prince
  • Cinderella running leaving the ball as the clock strikes midnight, leaving one of her glass slippers behind
Falling Action
  • Cinderella back in the kitchen with the footmen returned to mice and the garage returned to a pumpkin.
  • The prince handing out the proclamation that he will marry the person whose foot fits the slipper
  • The prince searching the kingdom to find the woman whose foot will fit into that shoe.
Denouement
  • The prince arriving at Cinderella’s home and finding that Cinderella’s foot fits into the glass slipper.
  • The prince proposing to Cinderella
  • Cinderella accepting his proposal leaving her two sisters behind to wait on themselves.