How to plot a story


The heat of summer is here. My job throws me in front of interesting characters everyday. I can glean the best part or most interesting part of them with ease. The kind sad old man who just lost his wife after 62 years of marriage or a young man with a greasy smile trying to sell a bridge. The trouble I have is defining a plot. In my stories, I have sat down and written them. I make a few quick note of the characters and scene, then take off writing. I read Janet Evanovich’s book on writing. It is very insightful and encouraging. Her control over herself is impressive. At first glance, she appears a mess and I bet in a conversation she would proclaim it, but she gets up everyday and writes, she has worked hard to refine her craft, and she make a story as easy and fun to read as Plum loves pastry. I read the book and the question that sticks with me is how do I concoct the golden plot?

I need a formula to do it and it is a difficult formula to create. I guess it’s not as hard as the old alchemy problem of lead to gold, but its tough. Tragedy would be easy enough. You take some expected good and remove it forever. For instance, a man and woman truly in love, then one’s removed, one’s forced to marry another, one is sterile, and all becomes tragic. Children are terribly easy to use for tragedy, due to pureness and great expectations. The opposite is also true a success can make a day bright. In drama, the opposite of a tragedy is a comedy. I wonder why no one laughs at success, but we can often muster a chuckle for a tragedy. Is laughing a human response to contradict a tragedy? Tragedy, comedy , or success you need a plot to create one.

A plot is little more than the path a character takes to get what he,she, or it wants.  A sub plot of two helps to carry the tempo and create tension.  Hey that sounds easy, oh wait, no it sounds complex. Most really simple things are I guess. Plots, subplots, story arcs and several other things to confuse a person. I remember getting a headache when I was learning to read electrical diagrams. I think this is a similar thing. I put my mind to it and didn’t take brain fog as a good deterrent. An easy way to explain brain fog would be to experience it. First go to Best Buy, then buy the latest and greatest piece of technology, and finally go home get a nice cup of Starbuck, snuggle down in your favorite chair, and start reading the manual and focus to understand every word. Walah, you now know what brain fog is all about. I learned to read a diagram and the light came on. I can learn to diagram and give my stories the structure to allow them to reach their potential.

I am going to find a book or two on the subject and perhaps a few internet articles. In the mean time, I have another story to post. It is Broken Angel and it’s a deviation from anything I have posted so far. I hope you like it. I am plotting a story for submission. I will write-up a post on that story and the guidelines of the publisher. After that, the next Dead Horse and then who knows.

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