I created this timeline to help me with planning for NaNoWriMo 2013. I used the descriptions from: http://writerstoauthors.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/the-six-stages-of-plot/ as a starting point until I understand it better and evolve my descriptions of this structure.
Between stage 1 and 2, your hero should be presented with an opportunity which creates in him or her a visible desire. This is not the overall goal which governs your story, but rather something which sets your hero off on a new course of action and moves the hero into a new situation.
At this point in the plot your hero is suddenly faced with something (a decision, a challenge, etc.) which will transform his or her original desire into a visible goal with a specific end point. This is where your hero’s outer motivation becomes clear and your story is now in full swing.
Roughly halfway through your plot, things become much tougher than your hero anticipated and he or she is confronted with significant obstacles to achieving the visible goal. At this point your hero must cross the point of no return and commit 100% to achieving his or her goal. This is where she takes irrevocable steps and is now closer to the end point of the outer journey than the starting point.
Now something terrible happens and it seems that all is lost. But your hero is fully committed and he or she really has no choice, things are critical, so he has to make one, last, desperate effort to win, escape, stop something or retrieve something (remember Michael’s basic categories of visible goals).
At this point the hero faces the biggest hurdle of all and her destiny is in her own hands and the outer motivation or visible goal is resolved. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean the visible goal is attained, the hero could fail, but there is resolution of the goal one way or another.
This is where you introduce your hero, drawing the reader in to the setting of his or her everyday life. Right at the outset, establish identification with your hero by engendering our sympathy or anxiety for him, making him likeable, funny or powerful.
The hero is now getting used to the new environment, he or she is perhaps feeling excited about this situation, may feel optimistic that any challenges faced here will be easily overcome, and is unaware of what really awaits.
The hero appears to be succeeding in his or her plan, there are obstacles and conflict, but he or she is managing these and overcoming them. Things seem to be working.
Complications and Higher Stakes
Your hero is struggling with difficult challenges and the conflict continues to magnify, he doesn’t give up though, because the stakes are higher and he can’t go back, remember. It seems that success is within his grasp.
The conflict at this stage is huge, your hero is risking everything against tremendous odds, the pace and conflict is intense as your hero battles the obstacles to achieve his or her visible goal.
Now, in the final stage, you reveal your hero’s new life following the completion of his or her journey. How has she changed, what has she learned, how has the completion of her journey impacted the lives of the other characters? This is not a very long stage, but is necessary to provide the reader with a sense of closure.