I WANT TO WRITE A BOOK WHERE DO I START–WHAT IS A PLOT AND HOW DO I CREATE ONE?
A previous blog on plotting stated unequivocally that there were billions of plots, and that is true, but I am going to make a rebuttal to my own earlier position today. As a courtroom lawyer for 43 years, I feel entitled and even obligated to counter this position with the argument that there are actually only 20 plots, not billions, as argued by author Ronald Tobias in 20 Master Plots which I recommend. Of course I am not reading or enforcing the fine print as I make these assertions, for each of the following plots has infinite variations on the basic theme.
First, let’s differentiate a story from a plot.
Story: is a chronicle of events strung together like beads on a string. The reader asks, “what comes next?” Many times the story is character driven, with people and their interaction center stage.
Plot: Plot is a chain of cause-and-effect relationships that create a pattern of unified action and behavior, and requires the ability to remember what has already happened, and a need to figure out the outcome. The reader asks “why?” Agatha Christie’s mysteries are good examples of plot driven.
What are they? Here is a list of these twenty “master plots”.
Quest, Adventure, Pursuit, Rescue, Escape, Revenge, The Riddle, Rivalry, Underdog, Temptation, Metamorphosis, Transformation, Maturation, Love, Forbidden Love, Sacrifice, discovery, Wretched Excess, Ascension and Descension.
Take any of these separately, or in combination with another, and there you have the basis of your story. In a following blog, I will give a real life situation that will demonstrate this.
In my novel, Nimrod’s Peril, an adult fantasy, I used Quest and Rescue as the theme. The reader is pulled/pushed forward to find out what happens next, wondering why all along, which finally gets an answer during the last chapter.