Thursday, November 8, 2012

ABC's of Writing - (P)lotting Out A Story To Someplace

Plot. It is the path your characters travel down toward that final conclusion and the THE END. This is the road you take your readers down and hopefully, they stay with you the entire way. Unfortunately, I have found far too many stories that leave me asking the question, "Why on Earth did I even take this journey?" And more importantly. "Why am I even on this road at all?" In other words, too many stories lack a real reason for being told.

I think, in all honesty, many writers come up with a great character, or a great scene and think they can build the entire story around it. The problem is that they have failed to answer the big question of WHY? Why are we wanting to follow these characters? Why are we wanting to see them together or to see them apart? This is the big SO WHAT!

As an author, you have to have a sense of where you want your story to go to and what you want your readers to leave with. I know I have said this time and time again here on this blog but it is so crucial to the success of a story.

Along the same lines, even if you do have your characters heading toward an end that is justifiable, the side paths they take along the way still need to matter. Everything they do and say in the story has to be a step that moves them closer to the that big SO WHAT of your story. No, this is not another piece of information for their plot, it is something that adds to the the big take way of the story.

If you look at the story of the GONE WITH THE WIND for example, each of the husbands Scarlett marries and each of the failures and supposed successes she achieves throughout the story continually add to the big take away of the story. These are all the pieces of the story that come piling up around her when she watches Rhett disappear into the fog. She finally sees that it was Rhett all along.

Everything in your plot has to have a purpose. You cannot simply just have your characters doing things without a motivation or a direction toward that big take away. Go back and visit that discussion we had for J this week.

I want you to take some time today and ask yourself where your plot is really going? If all you have is THE END, then you might want to take some time to revisit things.


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