How to build a complex plot based on a simple message (Part 8)


Part 8: The End?

All righty. We’re almost at the end of this little primer on how to take simple ideas and turn them into complex plots.

Let’s review what we put together so far:

Message: Stealing is wrong.
Direction: External.
Genre: Steampunk.
Character: Confused Robin Hood.
Conflict – Turning Point One: Confused Robin Hood chooses to accept the accolades of his people even though he neither wants nor deserves them in order to preserve his relationship with his Beloved Uncle and Unlikely Maid Marian. We learn that Sheriff wants the Golden Arrow for himself (maybe we learn this, maybe we don’t, but either way it’s understood) and thinks that Confused Robin Hood knows how to use it. And he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Conflict – Turning Point Two: Confused Robin Hood is forced to admit his crimes, and the people blame the Professor’s death on him. And by putting him in prison, it puts Sheriff in charge.
Conflict – The Point of No Return: Confused Robin Hood realizes that Sheriff is the one who killed the Professor and Unlikely Maid Marian, but because his own actions started all of the trouble, he is willing to accept the blame. But he wants to take Sheriff down with him.

Conclusions are important because you need to wrap everything up in a way that is satisfactory for everyone. Your readers need to feel fulfilled when they get to the end, unless you intend to write a sequel and even then you need to have an ending.

Your characters need to come full circle, and your story needs to have a definite ending place.

At this point, we have set everything up. The characters have everything they need to bring this crazy story coming crashing down to a wild conclusion.

The people and Sheriff are getting ready to hang Confused Robin Hood. But somehow (and that somehow is in the details), Confused Robin Hood is able to prove that Sheriff is the one who actually did the killing.

Maybe it’s with a witness account. Maybe it’s with evidence he gathered from the crime scene. Whatever it is, he is able – at the last possible moment – to prove that Sheriff is the one to blame for the murders. All that’s important to know at this point is that it happens. You can figure out how later.

Sheriff and Confused Robin Hood can have a last climactic battle. Sheriff regains control of the Golden Arrow, and he tries to use it to benefit himself. But at the last moment, Confused Robin Hood finds a way to change it to help the people by repairing the damage done to the soil. In their last fight, Confused Robin Hood can use his thieving skills to win an advantage over Sheriff.

Sheriff is electrocuted in the process, and Confused Robin Hood, injured and weary, escapes on a horse. He thinks about staying, but at the sight of the angry mob, he decides to run. As he leaves, though, he steals Unlikely Maid Marian’s necklace.

Now, that can be your conclusion if you want. That would work. But personally, I think it needs a little more.

For a story like this, I would do an epilogue. Confused Robin Hood rides back into his town after a few months have passed, and he finds it to be flourishing. Everyone is happy. Theft is down. He sits at the local café, and talks with the bartender about something. He is disguised so no one recognizes him. And he needs to make some comment about being just like everyone else.

At the end of the conversation, he leaves the necklace with Unlikely Maid Marian’s mother or father or some relative. And he disappears again.

What’s fun about this is that it demonstrates, in a meaningful way, that Confused Robin Hood hasn’t really changed as a character. He still has his old habits, but he’s been redirected slightly. He understands the consequences of what he’s doing, but he still chooses to do it in a way that isn’t hurtful. And he got what he wanted in the end.

And that’s the end! Or is it?

Hardly.

Now the real work begins.

Part 9 will deal with the process of going back over your rough plot outline and filling in the gaps with the details.

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