Posts Tagged ‘plot’

New year, old story

dec-2016It’s a new year, but I want to pass along some ideas from the tail end of the old year. ECWG member Tom Zumwalt writes about writing on his blog, and his 13 December 2016 post contains some wonderful observations.

The image of plot as a river really resonates – it may be slow or fast, murky or clear, winding or direct, filled with obstacles, branches, pirates, or crocodiles. It carries the characters (and ideally the reader) to a place they weren’t before, and nothing is exactly the same when they arrive as it was when they departed. This can be a terrific tool for mapping out your plot or for assessing what you’ve already written: do we get lost in that tributary? Are there too many rapids, or not enough? Does the whole thing move along so slowly that everyone abandons ship and drowns out of boredom?

But the river – the plot – is simply a vehicle for the characters. Without them, we never embark on the journey. They are the only reason we care about the river. With the right characters, even the most placid river will not be boring, because they will do stupid or brave or terrifying or outrageous things on the way, and we will be riveted.

So heed Tom’s call: create characters we cannot look away from and send them down the river.


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In the spirit of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), here are a couple of interesting posts on story lines and plotting. (If you know of others, please let us know about them in the comments.)

The first, from Roz Morris of Nail Your Novel, talks about how most stories can be broken into four parts, even if there are only three acts. (Hint: the second act has two parts.) This can be a useful device for both plot planning during the writing phase and for plot analysis during the editing phase.

The second, by Bill Boyd, The Literacy Advisor, is essentially a summary of Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots, which looks at plot from the reader’s point of view. Since our audience is pretty much made up of readers, this can be a great way to think about our writing. It could help some of us get past those stuck places we all seem to run up against from time to time and might even inspire some to venture down a different road in the next story.

Whether you’re engaged in the madcap frenzy of NaNoWriMo or churning along at your own pace, what kind of resources or tools do you use to plot and frame your stories?

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