The Craft of Plot: The Escalator

NaNoWriMo Course 4, Week 1

Assignment Description:

Write a scene of 250-350 words featuring a character with one concrete want (a table, a moose, a toothbrush, anything physical is fine!) and one weakness. Use these two features to drive the action of the plot. Set up the story where every other sentence is a rising action. To help you come up with rising actions, use one word from the following list of twelve words in each sentence that has a rising action. In other words: Write your first sentence introducing your character. Make the next sentence a rising action using one of the following twelve words. Write your third sentence, which may introduce the weakness, then write your fourth sentence with a rising action that includes one of the remaining eleven words you haven’t used. And so on.

  • trick
  • memory
  • aboard
  • tiger
  • pretend
  • carrot
  • appliance
  • cage
  • rings
  • crow
  • filthy
  • explode

You must use at least 6 of the 12 words, but you are encouraged to challenge yourself to use as many of the words as possible while still meeting the word count.

Buck the Reverse

345 words

Meet Buck the Reverse. He’s the quartermaster aboard the rickety old pirate ship, The Salty Peppers, that is currently being tested by a raging storm; yes, the one you’re looking at. You can hear the Captain, a loudmouthed old sailor, bellowing orders through the wet windy chaos.

“Buck, ye filthy seadog, me needed me rum yesterday! Git those scrawny legs workin’!” he shouts. Buck cringes as a wave of seawater explodes on his face.

“Aye aye, Cap’n!” he replies, wiping his face with his dirty sleeves. He scrambles down to the stores, arriving just in time to witness a stack of carrot crates toppling over. He grunts in annoyance; the damp wooden deck is now a patchy sea of edible roots. He hops from side to side to avoid stepping on the rolling cylindrical vegetables, and arrives at the rum stash on the port side safely.


As bad luck dictates, the ship sways the moment he makes the last jump, sending a cage holding a most peculiar bird from Garash Islands toppling right onto his landing site.

“Blimey!” he shouts as he somersaults and crashes into a large rum crate. The petite violet-green bird crows in panic and flies out of its now-open cage.

“The scurvy dogs who forgot to tie the cage down’r walkin’ the plank, mark me words!” he grumbles. He checks the crate; fortunately, it is stronger than it looks. Drowning his stress, he takes a bottle, pops the cork, and chugs.

Now Buck isn’t called “The Reverse” for nothing: others get violent when drunk, but Buck becomes a very polite gentleman—with the bearings of a perfect English butler that he once was.

He burps, wipes the rum off his lips, and takes another bottle for the Captain. He screens his surroundings with calculating eyes. Keeping close to the bulkheads, he calmly strolls through the still-rolling Carrot Sea and ascends the ladder with poise. The Captain clicks his tongue when he sees Buck effortlessly dodging a fish sent flying by the waves.

“Me sees ye drank a bottle,” he says.


I skipped Course 3, The Craft of Character, because I am waaaaaaaaay behind schedule. I chose the Plot course because plotting long stories is my Ultimate WeaknessTM… I need the assignments. I had planned to do the Character course too, of course, but I don’t think I’d meet the deadline for the assignments. I hope I can continue after NaNoWriMo is over.

I had a lot of fun writing Buck. I actually researched how to talk Pirate. It paid off; this is by far the most successful assignment piece. The people who reviewed it had a good laugh at the poor man.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>