Friday, February 4, 2011

Plot Talk - Part 1: The Basics

I'm currently working on writing my second novel of which I have completed 7 chapters back in October. I set it aside to write a novel for NaNoWriMo and have only just gotten back to it. I spent the last few days editing it and getting ready to move on and continue the writing process. However, I could not come up with anything to write yesterday or today. I'm unsure of exactly where I want to go with it now.

This got me thinking about the plot, subplots, acts, structure, and anything that has to do with propelling my story along. As a result I've decided to do a little research on plots and the different methods out there for creating a great plot.

Part 1: The Basics

Plot: The basic definition of a plot is that it is anything that happens within a story.

Well, that's easy. Or is it? What should happen in this story? How should it happen? What makes it special that the story should even be told? Oh, the endless questions that come to mind as a result of this definition.

So what is plot really?

It's what propels a story along or rather what propels characters along in a story. Maybe. I think both characters and plot propel each other along in a good story, but that's for another discussion all together.

Let's just say that I attempted to look up information on building a plot on the internet. NOTHING was even remotely good. They were all lacking in major areas and not in the least bit informative for this piece. I'm not even going to link to them, nor mention the different ideas these sites all had. They were that bad.

One thing everyone seems to agree upon is that a plot is what happens throughout the course of a story.

In this case, I have the basic plot drawn out already for my second novel. So, what's the hold up already? Well, there seems to be more to this plot thing than those people telling us "how to write a novel" on the internet. I wonder who they are and why they have even bothered to put that out there? More importantly, have they even ever sold a novel?

I have decided to look more at plots and what they are over the next three posts.

This is my tentative plot discussion:
Part 1: The Basics - I will look at the basic principle of plots.
Part 2: Robert McKee's plot structure in Story
Part 3: Blake Snyder's beat sheet plot structure in Save the Cat!
Part 4: Steven James' Story Trumps Structure article from Writer's Digest Magazine February 2011

In the meantime - What is plot to you? How do you devise your plot? Simple or complex?

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