Monday, January 10, 2011

Surviving Disaster

I stumbled across Surviving Disaster, which I guess is no longer on Spike. In the show,  former Navy SEAL Cade Courtley gives tips on how to survive worst case scenarios.  Not only did I find the show entertaining and informative, but I thought the episodes could teach basic novel plotting.

The episode where Cade shows the viewer how to survive a terror attack at a mall is quite good.
How does it relate to plotting a novel?

There's an inciting incident (the attack).
The status quo has changed for the mallgoers (nothing will be the same after this)
The mall patrons try several routes of escape (which are blocked).  They are pursuing goals and repeatedly denied.
They must come up with plans while being hunted. They must take out the terrorists at certain points.
Things go wrong (someone is wounded, they are blocked by a sniper) until they pull things together at the end.

It's worth watching not only for the survival tips, but for the mini story arcs that occur throughout the show. No matter what type of fiction you write, plotting is about throwing roadblocks in front of your characters and forcing them to deal with it. 

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