Writer Guy’s Tip #2: The Plot

This is under the assumption that you have already read the previous post, regarding the setting of your story, otherwise I’d just keep repeating myself, you see…

For all first time readers, let me just specify a few things that would help you make the most of this post:

  1. At this stage, you need to have a rough idea of the plot, and the primary characters of your story.
  2. You have a fair idea of the setting of your world.
  3. You have not written too large a chunk of your story and want to plan out the rest, or you have written a considerable amount and feel slightly lost.

Even if you do not quite fit into the above criteria, I hope you do find something that makes it worthwhile.

For some reason, I have a feeling that this will end up being more of a tutorial than a tip…

Anyhow, we begin…

Now, loosely, the term “plot” refers to the sequence of events within a story, the outcome of which directly affects the succeeding events.

All events in a story do not necessarily influence the plot. Guessing which event would, and which would not, can be a major factor in building suspense, as the story continues.

Plot Structure:

The structure of plot often varies with the genre, and has major impact on all components of fiction writing, apart from the setting. That is the reason why we discussed the setting before the rest.

Linear Structure

The simplest form of a plot, here, the events here are portrayed in a chronological order.

Dramas often tend to employ such a structure.

plot 2
Dramatic Structure, represented by Freytag’s Pyramid
plot 3
Three Act Structure, represented by Wendell Wellman’s Plot Line Graph

The points on the graph refer to:

  1. Beginning
  2. Meeting
  3. Inciting Incident
  4. First Turning Point
  5. First Pinch
  6. Midpoint
  7. Second Pinch
  8. Second Turning Point
  9. Stand Up
  10. Climax
  11. Ending

Nonlinear Structure

Such a pattern does not follow the direct causality pattern of the events featured in the story. Therefore, being used in a plethora of distinct methods and highly varying degrees, this always creation of a mindbogglingly large range of plot lines.

Epics such as Mahabharata and Iliad follow such a structure, as do books like Wuthering Heights, and movies such as Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, all of which employ a discontinuous narrative style. We will probably discuss Rashomon again, in next week’s post…

Christopher Nolan is perhaps one of the most successful filmmakers to repeatedly experiment with nonlinear plot, with Memento being the greatest example of reverse chronology. It is another movie which we would need to discuss in next week’s post…

Now, however simple or complex the structure may be, the most important thing to take care of is definitely the internal consistency of the plot. If you do wish to use a complex, nonlinear structure, I would advise you to first form the entire plot outline, and then rearrange the events, according to the effect required.

Plot Device:

Anything that drives the story forward can be known as a plot device, and is classified according to the direction along which it tends to drive the plot.

Having a superfluous or highly overused plot device, such as the tizori ki chaavi and the frantic quest to acquire it, in any number of old Bollywood movies, is the worst thing you can do to your story.

Compare that to the mysterious blue stone Eragon finds in the wood, and you’d understand what I mean…

Any plot device you use should serve a purpose, and emerge naturally from the setting, or from any preceding event.

In Anton Chekov’s words:

“Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

Of course, one cannot discuss plot lines, unless one also discusses narrative style, and that is what we intend to do, next week, possibly with a few good examples.

I can hardly contain myself, to be honest… The narrative is my very favourite part…

Anyway, that is all for today.

Thank you.

Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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