Plot story using dramatic throughlines

When plotting out your story, one useful way of doing so is thinking about in terms of dramatic throughlines.

Dramatic throughlines are what happens to a character in a story. Generally, the story ought to be about a character solving a problem, such as a diamond smuggling rings needs to be broken or a hill must be taken from the enemy during a war. In the diamond smuggling story, the main character’s throughlines might include infiltrating the smuggling ring and surviving an attempt on his life by the boss who suspects him of being a cop. In the war story, the main character’s dramatic throughlines might include storming the hill under heavy fire and fighting in secret tunnels. The events in the throughline should grow increasingly more difficult for the main character to overcome and so the story’s tension will rise.

Sometimes the main character is forced to make a difficult choice so that he can overcome a problem. For example, our cop might decide to sacrifice some crook he’s befriended in the organization so he can kill the boss. Our solider might have to rescue an injured comrade while under fire and in doing so clears a machine gun nest that allows his platoon to gain the upper hand in the battle. This difficult choice is made in the story’s climax.

The throughlines end with the climax, though afterward the author often shows the main character receiving some award for resolving the problem. For instance, the cop might get the girl, and the soldier might receive the recognition he always has sought from his fellow troops.