Saturday, January 27, 2018

Plotting a Novel with Michael Hague's Steps

by Elva Cobb Martin

Michael Hague

Today I ran across Michael Hague's Six Stage Plot Structure and believe it is a good way to get a first draft outline. It will also help you write a synopsis of a finished book because it lists all the plot points needed.

Here's Act One plot points in detail with my own work-in-progress notes inserted:

Act One: Vital First 25% of your novel

0-10% The Set UP:  Protagonist (she) is in her normal life.
Spain, 1740
   Marisol Valentin is on her deceased parents Spanish estate, her uncle now owns. He has a bad gambling problem. A neighboring nobleman has a great interest in her but she has none in him.

10% Mark - Turning Point One: Opportunity or problem. Something happens to bring a change and make the protagonist act.

Marisol is accosted, knocked unconscious, and raped by the nobleman in the stables who has just won the estate from her uncle gambling. The nobleman thinks she comes with it. She stabs and kills the nobleman when she regains consciousness.

10-25% Stage Two: New Situation. She sees what life is like when she takes the opportunity or acts. It is very new, exciting, but also scary.

Marisol determines to flee from Spain, knowing no one will believe her story against the nobleman and she'll be arrested, hanged, for murdering him. She and her maid board a ship to flee to the Spanish colonies in the New World.

25% Mark - Turning Point Two: A change in plans. This launches Act Two.

Marisol's Spanish ship is attacked and overcome by pirates who take her and her maid captive and force them to sign indenture papers. The pirates head to Charles Town to sell the captives.

Briefly, here are Hague's other two main points that he also breaks down into percentages in his teaching.

Act Two 25-75% of Your Novel 
In act two, the protagonist works on changing her life and solving the problems of the plot. She isn't sure how to do that
has both victories and setbacks. 

Act Three 75-100% of Your Novel
In act three, the protagonist starts off in a bad spot, retreating to who she was and shunning who she wants to be. But she pulls it altogether and faces whatever she is afraid of, and gets ready to move on. This involves a final push and brings on the climax and final battle with the antagonist and the resolving of the story's main problem. 
Denouement: the protagonist survives and is now the person she wanted to be, has resolved the problems she faced. She sheds the old, embraces the new, and takes first steps into her new life.

For more on Michael Hague and story structure, click here.

Thanks for stopping by. Did this help you with your plotting? If it did, please share this article by clicking on the small icons below the blog.

Elva Martin

Elva Cobb Martin is vice-president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. She has two inspirational novels contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Summer of Deception, a contemporary romantic suspense, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt. Both have spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried Elva's articles. Jim Hart of Hartline Literary represents her. She and her husband Dwayne are semi-retired ministers. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives in Anderson, South Carolina. Connect with her on her web site, her blog, on Twitter; Facebook;  and Pinterest
Link to her romance novels and non-fiction works on Amazon: