Thursday, February 4, 2010

All About Plotting, part 1

A recent comment from one of the top British literary agents stressed the importance of a well plotted story.
Plot concerns the organisation of the main events of a work of fiction. Plot is concerned with how:
(1) events are related
(2) events are structured
(3) events enact change in the major characters

Most plots trace a process of change in which characters are caught up in a conflict that is eventually resolved. Plots may be fully integrated, tightly knit or episodic in nature.

Conflict is the basis of Plot. Without conflict there is no story because there is no change or growth. A tip is to think of conflict as a question your story sets out to answer.

As a writer, a questions to ask yourself is: What is the central question of my story?
Your conflict or question may be only half-formed when you write your first draft but before embarking on a revision, it's essential that you define the conflict of your story. Once you've done that, it's much easier to know which parts of your story to cut and which to expand.

It may sound simplistic but for many emerging writers, plot is one of the hardest elements to grasp. Make sure your story contains a central conflict. Someting must happen to turn your main character's life upside down, and through this experience, a change must take place within your character. If your idea does not include a conflict, you're probably not ready to start editing your first draft. Indeed, you may not even be ready to begin writing that particular story.

Enthusiastic as we may be to begin writing when we get an idea, a little time spent on preliminary plotting saves time, energy and ensures a more professional story.

Good plotting and next month we'll continue on the PLOTTING theme.