Story Plots – Why They’re Essential by A.E. Wilcox

 

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There are essentially three kinds of writers – planners, pantsers (no planning – making it up as you go along) and ‘tweeners (those who are somewhere between the two). But there is something all story writers should have on completion of their novel or short story – a plot.

So what exactly is a story plot? It is a literary term used to describe the events that make up a story or the main part of a story. These events relate to each other in a pattern or a sequence. The structure of a short story or novel depends on the organization of events in the plot of the story.

A plot is the foundation of a novel or short story which the characters and settings are built around. It is meant to organize information and events in a logical manner. It is the mechanism which should make the story work, or connect with readers. The experience of reading a story should transport and move the reader.’

Readers, when they start a story, whether consciously or not, ask questions such as, “What is this story about?” “Is anything happening?” “Why should I keep reading?” And “Why should I care?”

There are five main elements in a plot:

The first is the exposition or the introduction. This is the beginning of the story where characters and setting are established. The conflict or main problem is introduced as well.’

The second element of a plot is known as the rising action which occurs when a series of events build up to the conflict. The main characters are established by the time the rising action of a plot occurs and at the same time, events begin to get complicated. It is during this part of a story that excitement, tension or crisis is encountered.

The third element of a plot is known as the climax or the main point of the plot. This is the turning point of the story and is meant to be the moment of highest interest and emotion. The reader wonders what is going to happen next.’

The fourth element of a plot is known as falling action or the winding up of the story. Events and complications begin to resolve and the result of actions of the main characters are put forward.

The last element of a plot is the resolution or the conclusion. It is the end of a story and ends with either a happy ending, a tragic ending or perhaps, an ambiguous ending where something is both won and lost.

Some people maintain there are really only seven basic plot types. However, there is an author, Georges Polti, who wrote a book called The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations which suggest there can be as many as thirty-six different types of plot. (After the hyphen in each case suggested main character types are listed for each plot model)

  • Supplication’- Persecutor, Suppliant, a Power in Authority
  • Deliverance’- Unfortunates, Threatener, Rescuer
  • Revenge’- Avenger, Criminal
  • Vengeance by Family upon Family’- Avenging Kinsman, Guilty Kinsman, Relative
  • Pursuit’- Fugitive from Punishment, Pursuer
  • Victim of Cruelty or Misfortune’- Unfortunates, Master or Unlucky Person
  • Disaster’- Vanquished Power, Victorious Power or Messenger
  • Revolt’- Tyrant, Conspirator(s)
  • Daring Enterprise’- Bold Leader, Goal, Adversary
  • Abduction – Abductor, Abducted, Guardian
  • Enigma’- Interrogator, Seeker, Problem
  • Obtaining’- Two or more Opposing Parties, Object, maybe an Arbitrator
  • Familial Hatred’- Two Family Members who hate each other
  • Familial Rivalry’- Preferred Kinsman, Rejected Kinsman, Object
  • Murderous Adultery’- Two Adulterers, the Betrayed
  • Madness’- Madman, Victim
  • Fatal Imprudence’- Imprudent person, Victim or lost object
  • Involuntary Crimes of Love’- Lover, Beloved, Revealer
  • Kinsman Kills Unrecognised Kinsman’- Killer, Unrecognised Victim, Revealer
  • Self Sacrifice for an Ideal’- Hero, Ideal, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • Self Sacrifice for Kindred’- Hero, Kinsman, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • All Sacrificed for Passion’- Lover, Object of Passion, Person or Thing Sacrificed
  • Sacrifice of Loved Ones’- Hero, Beloved Victim, Need for Sacrifice
  • Rivalry Between Superior and Inferior’- Superior, Inferior, Object
  • Adultery’- Deceived Spouse, Two Adulterers
  • Crimes of Love’- Lover, Beloved, theme of Dissolution
  • Discovery of Dishonour of a Loved One – Discoverer, Guilty One
  • Obstacles to Love’- Two Lovers, Obstacle
  • An Enemy Loved’- Beloved Enemy, Lover, Hater
  • Ambition’- An Ambitious Person, Coveted Thing, Adversary
  • Conflict with a God’- Mortal, Immortal
  • Mistaken Jealousy’- Jealous One, Object of Jealousy, Supposed Accomplice, Author of
  • Mistake
  • Faulty Judgment’- Mistaken One, Victim of Mistake, Author of Mistake, Guilty
  • Person
  • Remorse’- Culprit, Victim, Interrogator
  • Recovery of a Lost One’- Seeker, One Found
  • Loss of Loved Ones’- Kinsman Slain, Kinsman Witness, Executioner

If you have written a story and then you find you can’t summarize it in one, or perhaps two sentences, then you can be absolutely sure your story is missing a plot.

A one-sentence plot is also called a line plot, and you can’t write one without including a major conflict. That conflict is the heart of the plot. Here are a couple of examples –

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone’by J.K. Rowling
A boy wizard begins training and must battle for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents.

Lord of The Rings by J R R Tolkien
A hobbit must take an evil magic ring of power to the land of the dark lord in order to destroy it, while his friends create a diversion.’

The plot is what forms a memory in the readers’ mind, allowing them to think about the book and even making them want to read it again. By identifying and understanding the plot, the reader is able to understand the message being conveyed by the author and the explicit or implicit moral of the story.

So a plot is the telling of a story, not the source of it. Once you have sympathetic characters with human needs facing a compelling conflict, then you have a story. The plot comes out when you tell that story. Plot is a storytelling tool, not an end in itself.
Useful links:

Short story plotting
Novel plotting

amandabwEnglish born and bred, as well as having learned the usual stuff at school, A.E. Wilcox has also been taught ballet, music, art and design. Now, she is an aspiring writer.

Apart from writing, she loves the sea and history. She likes drawing and doing artwork. She bakes, designs and decorates celebration cakes. She is handy with a sewing machine. Wilcox enjoys traveling abroad as often as she can.

Author Interview: Dana Hammer

Author Dana Hammer is a writer, a housewife, a blood and guts enthusiast, and a lady. She hopes you enjoy her writing. When I heard her read from Rosemary’s Baby Daddy I was laughing so hard I about rolled on the floor. I’m excited to introduce this upcoming author here on No Wasted Ink.

author-dana-hammerMy name is Dana Hammer, and I’m introducing myself to you. It’s hard to know where to start with this sort of thing, because I don’t know who YOU are. Maybe you’re the kind of person who just wants the facts, ma’am, and you just want to know, like, where I live and how old I am and stuff. But maybe you’re a more curious sort, and you want to know my favorite movies and what my hobbies are. Or maybe you’re a creep and you just want to know if you can have a pair of my used panties. In order to cover my bases, I will answer all of those questions, in order.

  1. I live in Anaheim.
  2. I am 34 years old.
  3. My favorite movies are Kill Bill, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Django Unchained and I Heart Huckabees.
  4. My hobbies are: writing, enjoying art of varying quality, reading the profiles of prospective adoptive couples online and judging their suitability as parents, and birding.
  5. No, you cannot.

I hope this has been informative!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always written little things here and there, mostly to amuse myself when I was bored. I started writing in a more serious way when I worked in finance, because I hated that job with my whole heart, and writing kept me sane.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Honestly, not until I published my first book. Though I fully subscribe to the notion that a
writer is a writer both before and after publication.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Sure! It’s called Rosemary’s Baby Daddy, and it’s a comedic fantasy novel about a woman
named Lori who gets impregnated with a demon’s baby. She decides to abort the baby to hide her infidelity from her husband, but then the abortion clinic gets destroyed by a freak lightning storm. From then on, all kinds of crazy events happen.

Meanwhile, the father, the demon Pazuzu, can’t stop meddling in Lori’s life. He knows he’d be a really terrible father, but he can’t help himself; he’s always wanted a baby. In addition, he has to somehow protect his baby from his ex-girlfriend, Lamashtu, who is the demoness responsible for baby death.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had a terrible, terrible pregnancy. Pretty much anything you can think of that can go wrong with a pregnancy – yeah – that happened. So I wrote this book to cheer myself up.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to think of myself as a concise, direct writer. If you want a lot of purple prose and
descriptions of the sky, I’m not your gal. My goal is to tell a story and to entertain you, and I hope my style helps me to achieve that.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Actually, I didn’t. I was having a lot of trouble with that, and a friend of mine, Rhiannon
Aarons suggested “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy”. At first I was like… my character’s name isn’t Rosemary. But then I was like, so what?

Is there a message in your novel that you want your readers to grasp?

I don’t know that I’d call it a message, but there is a definite theme, or “moral”, if you will. Basically, this book is a metaphor for how pregnancy (and new parenthood) throws your life into total disarray. You behave in ways and associate with people you never thought you would. You’re shocked at what you’re willing to sacrifice, and what changes you’re prepared to make, in order to be a good parent. Your body becomes a strange, alien thing that you don’t even recognize. You start to care deeply about things you never gave a thought to before; like which preschools in your area have Mandarin immersion programs and which restaurants have high chairs. It’s trippy.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or something from real life?

Not really. I was pregnant when I wrote this, but Lori is nothing like me. Oh, and I’ve never had sex with a demon.

Although,there is one part that was loosely inspired by real life. One day, when I was about four months pregnant, I was sitting in my living room and I heard this really strange squawking. It was birds, but not any birds I’d ever heard around here before. So I went outside and saw a FLOCK OF PARROTS. In Anaheim! Right outside! I thought I was going insane! Then I found out that there are actual flocks of wild parrots in Orange County; mostly former pets that have escaped from homes. But this incident was sort of the inspiration for the scene in the book where birds attack Lori’s house.

What authors have most influenced you? What about them do you find inspiring?

I read a lot of Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe during my formative years, and I still love
them both. I’m not sure if my fondness for dark subjects was something I learned from reading them, or if I read them because they spoke to my pre-existing fondness, but either way, they are both quite inspiring to me. I love any writer who isn’t afraid to embrace subjects that many people might find scary or unpleasant.

I also love Christopher Moore and Douglas Adams. Their madcap, quirky and hilarious stories make me super happy. If I could be any writer in the world, I’d be one of them. If I work really hard, maybe someday I might be worthy of fetching Christopher Moore a cup of coffee or polishing Douglas Adam’s tombstone, but I’m not there yet.

Is there a writer you would consider a mentor?

I wish! If a really great author wanted to mentor me, I would be so excited, I wouldn’t be able to contain myself. It’s all I would talk about. I would name drop endlessly, and eventually, my poor mentor would get sick of me and probably take out a restraining order against me, and that would be the end of the mentorship. But thus far, no one has reached out to me with the offer. If I could choose my mentor, no question, it would be Christopher Moore. But there are literally dozens of writers I would love to have as mentors, too.

Who designed the cover of your book?

Sheryl Sopot from Hyperchick Design did my book cover. I chose her because she’s
awesome, and we’ve been friends for years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. Be independently wealthy. Failing that, marry someone who will support you financially while you write. You need to have free time if you’re going to write a book; you can’t be spending all your time at an office doing spreadsheets. Also, read a lot. It makes writing a lot easier. Also, alcohol is your friend. Unless you’re an alcoholic. Then candy is your friend.

Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for reading my book! I really hope you enjoy it.

rosemarys-baby-daddy-book-coverDana Hammer
Anaheim, California

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Rosemary’s Baby Daddy

Cover Artist: Sheryl Sopot

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BARNES &  NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of writer’s links here on No Wasted Ink.  I hope you all are busy in your Nanowrimo efforts.  This year I’m a bit behind the 8-ball, but I’m hoping that once I get a few distractions completed, I can get up to full speed on my new story. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the articles!

How to Support an Author’s New Book: 11 Ideas For You

THE FANTASTIC URSULA K. LE GUIN

HOW WESTWORLD THE SHOW DIFFERS FROM WESTWORLD THE MOVIE

Cheat Sheets For Writing Body Language

What the heck is crowdfunding, and how can authors use it to fund their books?

9 Ways You Succeed When Your First Draft Fails

Captain vs. Master

Book Titles: 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Title for Your Book

The Only Reason Your Story Should Have Flashbacks

How to Write Endings that “Wow!”

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksIt is the top of the week and time for more writer’s links here on No Wasted Ink.  This week I have a nice assortment of general writing links that should be interesting.  One of the links is to a reading by Benedict Cumberbatch which is more about the creative process than writing, but I think you’ll get a kick out of it.  Enjoy!

THE MANY FACES OF EMPATHY

Taking the Terror out of the Query Process

Amazon’s New Review Rules: Should Authors Be Worried?

Benedict Cumberbatch Reads Sol LeWitt, Tells Us to Stop Horse-Shitting

4 Ways to Bring a Balanced Perspective to Your Support Team

Sabaa Tahir Picks Patrick Rothfuss’ Brain About Writing Sequels and Impostor Syndrome

Illustrations of the People Who Want You to Work For Free

Everybody’s Doing It

How This Author Got 10,000+ Preorders As A First Time Self-Published Author

Free Alternative Advertising for Indie Authors

Author Interview: Lillian Nader

How would I describe Author Lillian Nader? For one, she is a writer for fun and profit. Expect the unexpected! Please give her a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

author-lillian-naderI am Lillian Nader, an author, dreamer, freelance copyeditor, retired special education teacher, and part-time tutor. My name originated with my cousin, Lillian Ann, who asked my pregnant mom to name me after her when the Ouija board said I would be a girl. Weird things have happened to me ever since. My favorite poem is “Find Your Own Voice” by Jayne Cortez. I prefer outdoor walks for exercise, especially at the beach or in beautiful parks with large shade trees and small squirrels. My favorite people are other writers, metaphysicians, and my family. I have a lot of cousins and two older siblings but no spouse or children of my own. I rely on close friendships of extended family and confidantes. I participate in dream work with a small group called Sacred Dreamers and I frequent writers’ groups all over Orange County, CA. My professional memberships include SWCA, Southern California Writers Association; PWOC/PWSD, Publishers and Writers of Orange County and San Diego; and IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association.

When and why did you begin writing?

I grew up in Marshall, a small town in East Texas and moved to California to pursue a writing career in 1981. While I was taking a script writing class, I met a lyricist, Larry Marino, who was in search of a cowriter for his musical, Pandora. We embarked upon a successful collaboration to the completion of the script with me as the librettist. It was my love for the theater and Larry’s incredible talent that spurred me on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I became a published author of instructional workbooks with two California publishers of educational materials for the classroom, I considered myself a writer. One workbook, Native Americans: A Proud Heritage became a best seller for the classroom several years in a row.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Thanks for asking about my newly released sci-fi book for young readers, Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space. Jonathon Curtis is the fourteen year old narrator of the story. He has the ability to manifest objects out of nowhere, but he doesn’t know how to control his gift. His emotions take over and get him into trouble, landing him on Planet Staruus. The planet houses troubled kids from an overpopulated Earth and is thought to be uninhabited, but it isn’t. Theep and Thorpe are enlightened space beings who establish telepathic communication with Jonathon, and the fun begins.

What inspired you to write this book?

My artist friend, Angelo Divino, created two colorful and friendly looking space beings, and I was inspired to write about them. Their names came to me first, based on the concept that each of us has a unique sound frequency as well as fingerprints to distinguish us from one another. It occurred to me that space beings would use their sound frequencies in place of names. The names, Theep and Thorpe, are approximate sounds to the actual frequencies, which cannot be spoken with our voices. Years later, the actual story began to take shape in the form of a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a character driven writer, which means I start with characters that interest me, put them in weird situations, and figure out the plot from there. In Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space, I chose the narrative style of a troubled teen and used both internal and external dialogue to advance the story. His encounter with space beings is entirely from his point of view. I like to insert humor using a sprinkle of sarcasm and a bit of irony as part of my show, don’t tell strategy.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Since the book is about space beings and I am a character based author, I naturally gave their names, Theep and Thorpe, in the title to go with their images on the cover. I came up with the subtitle to give the reader more information about the story, and to distinguish it from other books in the series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

“Thoughts are things” is the overall theme of the story. Jonathon has the power of manifestation, and Theep and Thorpe teach him how to control his gift by choosing positive, productive thoughts.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, I drew upon my experiences as a teacher in a juvenile court school for part of the setting although it changed drastically as soon as it became housed on the fictional Planet Staruus.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I was influence by J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for the narrative style of my book and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter for motivation. As a special education teacher working with reluctant readers when the Harry Potter books were released, I noticed my students were choosing those books of their own volition. This made a big impression on me;

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Oh, yes. I have at least two writing mentors. One is Marjorie Miles, author of Healing Haiku: A Poetic Prescription for Surviving Cancer, who teaches a class I’ve been taking for the past four years. Dr. Miles encourages creative expression through free writing activities. The other mentor is Dr. Heather Friedman Rivera, author of the Prism Walker fantasy series for young readers along with nonfiction and fiction for adults. Heather is my weekly writer’s check-in partner. We email each other once a week with our writing goals, successes, and encouragement for one another. She is also a revered beta reader and writing coach.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My book cover was designed by Laura Gordon Moyer at The Book Cover Machine. She was referred to me by Heather Rivera, and I loved the design she did for Heather’s books. She worked with the original artist/creator of the space images and me for the design. Laura is responsive, cooperative, extremely talented, and reasonably priced.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Listen to your inner voice. Study the craft of writing, consult experts and peer readers and writers for their opinions, but always stay true to your inner voice. Each of us has a unique voice that only we can express. Dream big and don’t give up on your dreams. Surround yourself with positive people and energy. Participate in professional groups with other writers. Build an author’s platform to express your own voice. Have fun.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for choosing Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space for your reading pleasure. Always remember, thoughts are things! ***

custom-book-cover-lillian-new-small-fileLillian Nader
Yorba Linda, California

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Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space
Cover Artists: Laura Gordon Moyer
and Angelo Divino

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