The First Plot
Adventures in NaNoWriMo

First Plot Point NaNoWriMo day 6

What is standing in your hero’s path?

The first plot point is the moment where everything becomes clear. Yesterday’s inciting incident was the catalyst for change. The hero has made his decision. Now, we get to see what he is truly up against.


What makes a good villain?First plot point

The modern villain must have a fully realized backstory. The writer must know the process by which the villain came to hold his beliefs. She must know what the villain wants and how far he is willing to go to get it. His motivations must be clear and logical (even if it isn’t the logic you would follow). Villains can no longer be the black cape and the handlebar mustache. Villains must be fully realized characters.

Your villain is half your story. Make sure he has a goal and know what he is willing to do to achieve it.

A great villain will reflect the hero’s flaw

Whatever your hero struggles with, make that your villain’s best talent. If your hero is a shiftless dreamer, make your villain a severe type A. In the Lego Batman movie, Batman struggles to work with others while the Joker is brilliant at assembling a team.

If you’re struggling in this area, check out Ackerman and Puglisi’s Positive Trait and Negative Trait Thesauri. They will help you identify your character’s flaws and find a good antithesis.

Personal demons

Writing the First Plot Point-www.themanuscriptshredder.comYour hero will need to overcome more than just the villain. In the first plot point, his character flaw will solidify.

Show, don’t tell.

Julie was a perfectionist.
“No, you’re doing it all wrong.” Julie snatched the crayon from her little sister’s hand. “You need to keep the colors inside the lines. Why would you even bother if you’re just going to scribble?”

Sure, showing takes longer, but good news! More word count for NaNoWriMo.


The character flaw needs to be the result of the character’s backstory. (Furthermore, if your character has a traumatic backstory this must be reflected in the character’s current personality. No one suffers years of mental and physical abuse and is perfectly adjusted socially. Sorry, Harry.)

Opposites attract

Tailor your character’s flaw to your villain’s strength.

The first plot point is where everything comes together.

The first plot point is the moment everything is laid out: the stakes, the task, and the opposition. The hero’s bag is packed. Now, the journey begins.

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M.L. Keller is a freelance writer and editor. Her blog "The Manuscript Shredder" is focused on helping emerging writers hone their craft.


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