Writing Prompt: 05/31/10

"Your phone rings. When you answer it, you make a startling discovery: the person on the other end is dead. What does he/she say and why are they calling you?"

Write for 15-30 minutes. My response will be posted 6/02/10.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Link: Basic Plots

Sorry the blog is so late today, gentles. My middle school girls won a soccer game 5-1 and then I was a chaperon for their dance this evening. Interestingly enough, my responsibility as a chaperon is to prevent the identical behavior that I myself was desperately trying to engage in when I was their age.

I'm also still trying to balance out the blog here on some kind of regular schedule. My plan is to provide fiction examples on at least two days a week, Tuesdays will be a response to whatever the twittered writing prompt was on Monday, and later in the week will be an excerpt from Crossed Swords.

Fridays I think I'm going to link to other writing information I've discovered throughout the week.

Over at the IPL (Internet Public Library) there's a list of basic plots at which you might want to take a look. The link is HERE.

What I like the most about this particular link is that, with a little thought, we can use the plots in all manner of ways. Consider Simon Green's epic space opera Deathstalker. At least six of the "20 Plots" list are used in that book. (With 1.5 million words in the series, I'm surprised he didn't hit all of them!)

What if you took three basic plots and wove them together? Would that enrich your current project?

To me, the question then becomes, "Can I pull this off without making it so complex that the reader needs a Valium and an aspirin to get through?" If the answer is yes, then there's a good chance it might add a nifty little twist in there.

Another idea, from the character development standpoint, is to use two different plots for two different characters at the same time. Consider the Harry Potter series. While Harry had a specific plotline in each book, as well as an overarching plot that encompassed the series, Snape had another plot that he was following. If we were to use the examples from the list, Harry would be following the "Quest" or "Crime Pursued by Vengeance," but Snape (without giving it away if you haven't read the final book) may be considered as following the "Self-sacrificing for an ideal (love)" or "All Sacrificed for Passion" or even "Obstacles to Love."

To further understand character motivations I have sometimes written the same scene from the point of view of two or even more characters. The easiest way to do this is in first person, but third person works just as well if you're more comfortable with that. By doing this scene rewrite and explicitly following a different plot line with the second character, some surprising developments come to light.

This was supposed to be a simple link and somehow turned into a mini-essay, so I'll break it off here, but take a moment and see if some of your secondary characters (and the antagonist is usually one of them) could benefit with the addition of a plot line that specifically provides them a focus and raison d'etre.

Write on!


Christopher Rivan

Virgins Slain, Dragons Rescued.
Reasonable rates for all budgets!



1 comment:

  1. I'm late too but off I go to check out the link - thanks :)