Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PLOT: Lessons From High School English, a WPT Post

Quick Update: Nothing much. Unless almost spontaneously combusting in the Arizona heat last week when our AC gave out counts.

As matured authors and writers, I hope you at least know the basics of grammar, stories, and literature. Well, too bad, because you're backing up some years to high school English class! Aren't you excited?

Aforementined in my previous, update post, we're covering the basics once more. Today's lesson...PLOT.

We all know plot. It's the meat of the book. Chubby and complicated or slim and angular, plot is the challenges that face your precious hero, or so only Nathan Bransford himself says. No plot would be like Harry Potter staying with the Muggles, making friends at a normal school, and not fighting back. And certainly not facing any complications like half-giants or owls. If your characters are going down a straight, peaceful path where everything works out, plot is what rudely shoves them off. As writers, you just have to figure out how they get back up, bruised but stronger (or with a broken ankle, whichever you prefer).

What really interested me is that in class, the dumbed-down definition given to my fellow students was this: plot is the sequence of events in a story. That really made my eye twitch. Good stories aren't a "sequence of events". They're a sequence interrupted by a haywire, uncontrollable force, and the rest of the story is an attempt to get the events back in order. Until the main character learns from it.

Plot is, of course, one of the best ways to show off your creativity as a writer. After all, you are the one who creates this outside, inevitable force, you're the one who throws the Dupree into a newly-married couple or brings the fangs into a high-school relationship. You get to be the one who throws routine away and exchanges for this multi-choice fantasy.

Have fun.


  1. Love a story with a clever plot. I always like it best when a story goes in a direction I'm not anticipating.

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  3. I agree that the chart and definition is very simplistic and doesn't show the true chaos in a wonderful story.