Today is letter “P” which is day 16 of the #AtoZChallenge. We’re more than half way through the alphabet! Since it is #WriterWednesday and my theme is literary devices I would be remiss if I did not write about PLOT today.
This is my favorite literary device because it was the hardest lesson for me to learn. It took me well over 2 years to understand the nuances of plotting and how it works insidiously in the background of all aspects of your story, including the “props” in the story. Props? Yes, all of the window dressing such as clothing, accessories, character’s career, even the character’s choice in cars and food can, and should, be related to plot.
Let’s get the “easy” part out of the way regarding plot. What is it? Plot is the bare bones of the story; the essential essence of what makes the story tick. Plot can be summarized in a compelling sentence. It is also what is (generally) used when you create your elevator pitch for agents, and/or would-be readers. It’s the thing that gets and hooks a reader’s interest.
Here are some examples of the plot lines of a few well-known movies.
Avatar (movie, 2009):
A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home. (taken from IMDb – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0499549/plotsummary)
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Episode 1 (1999)
Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory. (taken from IMDb – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120915/plotsummary)
The Lovely Bones (movie, 2009)
Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family – and her killer – from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal. (taken from IMDb – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380510/plotsummary)
As you can see, plot is the total stripping away of all of the related details, interesting twists and turns of the action of the story. Plot only is concerned with the nuts and bolts of the actual story and, in many cases, the story’s major question(s).
To help me with plotting, my NaNoWrMo mentor, K.C. Wise, shared her plotting structure with me and I will share it with you. It’s a 6-point outlining technique focused on plot so you can get the bones of your story down without having to worry about missing any essential part of your story. Once you have the pieces locked in with this plot outline, you can coast and have yourself a good time filling in the details.
(The panster aspect of me LOVES the freedom once the plot is laid down! But don’t get it twisted, I am truly a plotter.)
6 Point Plot Outline
- Introduction of Conflict
- Complication of Conflict
- Resolution of Conflict
While this may seem simple, sit and work with it on your current WIP, or a new story idea. You will see that in its simplicity there is a beautiful conundrum of getting it all down without beginning to flesh out the story itself. This is the plotter aspect I love. This part. It sometimes takes me weeks, or months, to get this stage fully developed. Only after I get my plot structure down do I begin writing the novel. And believe, me I only do this for works upwards of 10,000 words!
I hope you enjoyed this journey into plotting. I’d love to hear about your forays into the plotting jungle.