Okay, time to really get into the meat of our novellas: the rising action. Step four directs you to write several chapters (two to four) and is the same for all tracks because we should be reaching a point in the drafting process where the story is taking control of itself. The story itself will direct you where to go. All you have to do is let it. By the end of this step, you'll be well over halfway through your novella and things will be really cooking, and the climax will be in sight.
All Tracks, Step 4
Write two to four chapters in which the results of the previous chapter’s inciting incident unfold and escalate. Since we will spend two to four chapters in the rising action of the story before we reach the story’s climax, you don’t need to rush things. The rising action will pick up speed naturally as you progress through these chapters.
Imagine the chapters of rising action as a snowball rolling down a hill. As the snowball rolls, it picks up more and more snow, getting larger and more out of control as it goes along. By the time the snowball reaches the bottom of the hill (the climax of the story), there should be a sense of inevitability to the impending crash of the snowball against whatever is waiting at the bottom of the hill.
1. Each chapter must be 10-30 pages long.
2. Set aside any plans you have already developed for the story’s ending. You should let the story unfold organically, not try to steer it in a particular direction. This can be difficult if your initial idea for the story came with an ending, but you absolutely MUST let go of any ideas for an ending, or the story will run the risk of feeling contrived. I PROMISE you, however this story ultimately ends, it will be the right ending for the story.
3. Begin by rereading what you have so far in the story: your character profile(s) and the set-up and inciting event chapters. If it helps, you can try jotting some notes summarizing the important details and events you have to work with. This will help you generate ideas for where the story should go next, and if you get stuck, you can revisit these notes to get ideas.
4. Now, write the first scene of the first rising action chapter. To write this scene, you only need to revisit what happened at the end of your inciting event chapter. What would be the organic next step in this story? Where will this character go, what will he or she do next, after what happened in the previous chapter?
5. From there, you will work one scene at a time, using the most recent scene that you wrote to guide you into the action of the next scene. Don’t worry about where the story is headed. Just ask yourself, “Now that X happened, what happens now?” Each scene will lead you to the next, and as things pick up speed and begin to really snowball, you will reach a point where the climax will reveal itself—whatever it is that is waiting at the bottom of that hill will suddenly become visible, and the snowball will be headed right for it.
Since you are not steering the story in any particular direction, it will feel as though you are heading into an abyss, with only enough light to illuminate what is directly in front of you. Don’t panic. That’s the way it should feel. Embrace the not knowing. Remember that writing is not about the destination, but the journey (as trite as it sounds).