Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo offers a nine box organizational model to address “stuckitude” and help authors to bridge the gap between pantsing and plotting. That he first calls it “plodding” gives some indication on where he stands.
The boxes are pretty standard, but his take on them is not.
He defines the protagonist as an important character involved in a conflict that is critical to the story. This is not the same thing as saying he is the main character or the hero.
The second box is The Hook. This is what keeps the reader reading. The Hook doesn’t need to be in the first line or even the first page, but it should appear early in the story.
The adversary may be a person, a natural force, or an entity with many agents. Teppo doesn’t like the terms villain or antagonist.
The next box is The Goal. The author needs to know what the protagonist wants.
The Obstacles and Opportunities typically come in multiples of three. The protagonist must try and fail several times before reaching their goal.
The next box is called The Mirror because it mirrors the first box. In this one, the author must know his or her own goal of writing the novel. What is its theme?
Transformation is next. How does the protagonist change?
Teppo has given the final box the unlikely name of The Boom Boom. This is the final image the author wants to leave in the mind of the readers.
I found Teppo’s chapter on outlining helpful. He ties in what should happen chapter by chapter to his nine box structure.
The rest of the book, however, didn’t grab me. Teppo instructs how to use Tarot cards for fresh ideas. He also makes a thorough examination of movie plots. I am an aficionado of neither Tarot nor movies, so all this was lost on me.
Teppo’s definition of a good book is one that is finished. I think most of his techniques will help me finish mine.