Pulp Fiction Plot Formula
– by: Lester Dent
This is Lester Dent’s famous “Master Fiction Plot” a formula for any 6,000 word pulp story. Lester Dent was a prolific pulp fiction author in the thirties, his works included the Doc Savage series, and he published 159 novels in 16 years. This method works well for any adventure, detective, western or war stories.
Generating a story idea
Define a different murder method for the villain to use.
Define a different thing for the villain to be seeking.
Define a different locale.
Define a menace that will hang like a cloud over the hero.
You might not use all of the ideas in the finished story, but it can help to have them in mind before continuing.
PART 1 : THE FIRST 1,500 WORDS OF THE STORY
Get your hero in trouble, hint at mystery or menace.
The hero pitches in
He tries to solve the problem or defeat the menace.
Introduce any other characters
All characters in the story must be in this first part.
The hero’s endeavours land him in physical conflict.
Near the end introduce a complete surprise or plot twist.
PART 2 : THE SECOND 1,500 WORDS OF THE STORY
Shovel grief onto the hero.
The hero struggles heroically, and his struggles lead up to:
Introduce another physical conflict.
Add a surprising plot twist to end this section.
Part 3 : THE THIRD 1,500 WORDS OF THE STORY
Shovel even more grief onto the hero.
The hero makes some headway, and corners the villain or somebody in:
A physical conflict.
A surprising plot twist, in which the hero preferably gets in big personal trouble.
Part 4 : THE FOURTH 1,500 WORDS OF THE STORY
Shovel the difficulties more thickly upon the hero.
Get your hero almost buried in his troubles. Everything seems lost.
The hero extricates himself using his own skill, his training or brawn.
The mysteries that are remaining are cleared up as the hero takes the situation in hand.
Ideally one big one held over to this point.
A final twist, a big surprise.
The snapper, the punch line to end it.