Friday, 16 September 2011
Plot, what is it? A writers help-sheet,
What is it? It is the story, the start, middle and the end. A plot is a casual sequence of events. It draws the reader in to the characters lives and so the reader understands the choices the characters make.
No plot is without conflict / crisis / change.
The opening is the most vital component of the story. It must grab the reader and give them a need to know more. Introduce the main character from the outset. Pose the story’s conflict / question that need’s to be resolved.
Type of conflict can be social, circumstance or physiological. Conflict is critical to the story as it is this point that changes your main character. Having conflict gives drama or suspense to the story, in a short story there is usual only one crisis as words are limited. In a novel, you may have many moments of drama as the word count is so large and it is these moments of suspense that makes the reader want to turn the page to find out what happens. This all happens in the middle of your story.
The end of the story should arrive at a natural conclusion. All threads teased out through your characters and storyline must be neatly sewn up at the end. It does not need to be a happy ending always but it must be a satisfying end for the reader. The reader must be left feeling good, that justice was served.
Your personal experience is best.
Other people’s experience.
Writing about what you know gives your writing an expertise in that area and so therefore your writing will read more authentically.
If writing historical or setting your story in locations you may not have visited then you need to do research.
You must give the reader a sense of being there with your characters so knowing the historical era is vital to draw your reader in.
As a writer, observation of life needs to be developed. The five senses, taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell all need to be triggered. The most powerful of the senses is smell; it can arouse so many emotions and memories.
The idea for the story is its theme. This could be romance, murder, historical or fantasy etc.
POV (Point of View) Who is telling the story?
It is usually either written in the first person or third person.
When writing in the first person, the sentences have a tendency to be short and snappy. The story is being told from one person’s point of view so can be trickier to deal with as the main character can only describe what he/she thinks the other characters feel. It is only the narrator’s view we have to believe to tell us the truth.
When using the third person, it is more comfortable to write as each character has a voice and the narrator just fills in the background.
Writing in the second person can/has been done but is unusual.
Consider the following: It is late on a Saturday night and a crowd are queuing to get in to the local nightclub. An argument takes place between two people and a fight erupts.
Regarding points of view, there are many. There are the two people who started the argument, there are those who were within earshot, there is the club doorman who is keeping an eye on proceedings and then the Gardai when they arrive. So you have many points of view so therefore you have many different descriptions of the one event.
Bear the following in mind when writing your story:
“When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters - one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity”
John F Kennedy, April 12th 1959.