Plotting Like a Storm

Storm has been brewing above the Eastern Sierra since Saturday night.

It started with lightning, zigzagging above Yosemite Park, transforming an al fresco Saturday dinner into impromptu Fourth of July fireworks, minus the crackling sound.

Lightning + dry vegetation – thunder = perfect combo for a brushfire that can turn into a wildfire in a flicker.

So, late Saturday night, over western pulled pork, Mexican flan, French red wine, and a wide sky ripped by lightning, everyone worried.

Wind took over during the night and blew throughout Sunday, lifting clouds of dust, forcing animals and humans alike to shelter.

Stormy weather held until late Monday when fat, warm drops of rain splashed on the dusty ground, giving way to restless rain, which yielded to showers in the wee hours of Tuesday.

And the sun won over.

The End.


Now that I have completed the revision of a travel narrative slash memoir manuscript, I have returned to the first draft of a YA novel I started early fall.

And I am stuck.

Until the realization that the last days had showed me the way struck me.

The classic structure of a plot goes back to the three basic parts: the beginning, the middle and the ending.

The writer takes the reader through the beginning where characters, setting and core conflict are introduced.

Like my Saturday night where the weather elements took stage.

The writer leads the reader through the middle with suspense, which is created when the reader understands that a certain element presented a certain way will become a major factor later.

Lightning without thunder adds undisputable tension.

Conflict is building up, as organically and with as much pressure as possible.

Lightning without thunder but with very ignitable material= higher stakes.

The dramatic turning point arises when the main character discovers that the outcome of his plans is not what he expected.

Strong wind disturbed the dynamic of a perfect tempest and didn’t allow the storm to erupt right now.

The events are inevitable: this is the climax or the end of the middle.

The accumulation of natural elements could only lead to outpouring rain.

The ending or the dénouement – I like this word because it is French. Literally the dénouement means the unknotting. In English it is the tying of loose ends.

The sun has won the battle and hope for a beautiful Wednesday is in the air.



We are often struggling in this earthly life, whether we are creating or not. And often we forget that we fit in this world where we have a place among animals and natural elements. It becomes simpler when we slow down and take the time to belong again.

In my case, observing the pattern of a storm has helped me to return to the fundamentals of a plot.

And to plow my way through the first messy but obligatory first draft.

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