The Save the Cat! Man
The plot doesn't just move ahead, it spins and intensifies as it goes ... And the rule is: It's not enough for the plot to go forward, it must move forward faster, and with more complexity, to the climax ... More must be revealed along every step of the plot about your characters and what all this action means.
Help from a Snowflake
Perhaps you might wish to turn to the science of fractals for inspiration. Fractals are those wonderful pictures we get when mathematicians reduce their calculations to images. It seems that the closer you look at things, the more you spot the patterns of fractals that go to make them up.
How does the Snowflake Method of building a plot work?
Here's a brief summary (you can find the detailed article on Randy's site).
I claim that that's how you design a novel -- you start small, then build stuff up until it looks like a story. Part of this is creative work, and I can't teach you how to do that. Not here, anyway. But part of the work is just managing your creativity -- getting it organized into a well-structured novel.
All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends.
You will be astounded at how fast the story flies out of your fingers at this stage. I have seen writers triple their writing speed overnight, while producing better quality first drafts than they usually produce on a third draft... This stage is incredibly fun and exciting... I've lost track of how many people around the world who have emailed me to say that the Snowflake helped them get their novel on track. So it works for a lot of people.
0-4: You are too nice a person. Watch the evening news, go stand in line at the post office, or try to go through the express line at the grocery story with too many items. You must learn how to truly torment your characters properly.
Menwithpens with advice ...
Now let's turn to one of the very interesting series of articles for writers prepared by menwithpens. Menwithpens is a web design and copywriting agency haling from Montreal, in Quebec, that in-again out-again province of sleepy Canada.
MenwithpensPlot is the nitty-gritty that gives your characters something to do. You’d be shocked at how many people leave this step out of their story. They’ll invent a great, well-developed character with a personality anyone could sympathize with, they’ll come up with a kick-ass backstory, and they’ll place the story in a beautifully described, poignant setting. Then nothing happens... But there won’t be any conflict. There won’t be one driving element that propels the story forward. In essence, there won’t be a plot.
The plot of any story can more or less be summed up thusly: Your protagonist wants something. He or she is unable to achieve it, for whatever reason. He or she achieves what was desired or fails to achieve it at all. That’s it. This is the plot of almost every story.
Noah's advice ...What do your characters want? Once you’ve established what your characters want, you need to establish why they want it. These things go hand-in-hand... This helps readers know what’s propelling characters’ actions throughout your story. Either characters support your protagonist in their quest for whatever, or they get in the way somehow.
At the center of every good movie there is a single driving force around which all other elements gather. It has the rage of a hurricane, the focus of a cougar, the horsepower of a Lamborghini... It is deceptively simple, so sly and stealthy you don’t even know it’s there. It’s a question... This is the “Major Dramatic Question,” or MDQ for short. Every good story has its unique MDQ. Think of it as the story’s nucleus. It’s a centrifugal force that propels the story along its path of action, accelerating it steadily and breathlessly toward a climactic conclusion. And once the MDQ is answered… the story is over.