Perhaps you’re sitting in a comfy chair right now plotting a new story. It features a brilliant and daring scientist. Your character is short on emotional entanglements, but long on project commitment and wanderlust. You love to research exotic settings. You write fast-paced action with ease. Your favorite characters are fearless Alpha heroes, people who live on the edge. It’s possible you’re a budding adventure writer without knowing it. Take a look at the plot notes and examples of the adventure masterplot and find out if your story fits.
Classic Adventure Plot Notes:
Unlike a quest plot, which we will be covering on April 20th, the adventure plot is all about the journey. It’s action driven.
While some writers can craft killer urban adventures, most writers put their adventure stories in an exotic setting. This could include finding a lost tribe in the Amazon or doing some deep sea diving to discover a sunken ship.
This plot will involve danger! High tension and lots of external conflict make for dramatic storytelling. The pace is not as fast as a thriller, but it comes darn close.
Danger requires special characters; characters who jump out of planes and run into the unknown with a smile on their face and a knife strapped to their thigh.
The profile of this hero is brave, self-assured and knowledgeable. Some are near genius in one or more areas of expertise. It never hurts if they’re slightly dishonest.
Adventure plots mostly follow a series of linear cause and effect events. These events are often outlandish, but ultimately they dovetail together in a way that makes sense.
This masterplot often omits a character arc, meaning the hero is emotionally unchanged by the adventure, and start and end the story as pretty much the same type of person. Although there can be a romance (or bromance) element, there’s little room in an adventure for long emotional detours.
The energy and focus of this plot is on capturing a prize at the climax. The hero might return richer, as was their goal, or perhaps return wiser. Because of the high degree of difficultly, the adventurer hero is sometimes just happy they lived to adventure another day.
Example to Study:
One of the best films with a classic adventure plot is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Here’s why:
· SETTING: A varied and exotic travelogue: Egypt, Peru and Mongolia. Who wouldn’t want to visit these destinations?
· CHARACTERS: Strong central figure (Dr. Jones) who is convincing when thrown into a vast array of dangerous situations. This one factor can make or break the best adventure plot.
· PLOT: Even though the adventure story is frequently outlandish (finding a super weapon made up of the dust from the Ten Commandments), it still falls within a larger framework of possible, if not probable.
· BONUS: Prizes worthy of the peril. The end goal should justify the risks. We can’t help but respect Indiana Jones for risking his life to keep a powerful weapon out of the hands of Nazis. If an adventure hero is reckless without sufficient motivation the adventure plot would start to fall apart.
There are many classic adventure writers, like Jack London, Rudyard Kipling and Robert Louis Stevenson. Or you can read more recent contributions from authors like Clive Cluster or Michael Crichton. Reading these stories should help reinforce the key points of crafting the adventure plot.
Thank you for joining us today, we hope you enjoyed A is for Adventure and we invite you back tomorrow for our next installment of Masterplots Theater, B is for Buddy Love.
Please share your own adventure writing tips, or titles you love in the comments.
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.
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