Saturday, January 12, 2013


What's the fictional plot?

For a newbie writer (which I'm hoping I no longer am) that question daunted the hell out of me. I wanted to sound tres cool and say, "Well, the plot of my story is something like what Captain Kirk pulls off in Star Trek or Achilles in the Iliad or Frodo in LOTR etc." 
And so I did for a while. I would expound and explain and even dramatically demonstrate my plot (though I did draw the line at illustrating it). Anyway, I would literally give a verbal thesis on my "very special" plot, telling the hapless listener everything from HOW my "very special" hero got embroiled in his "very special" mess and WHY the "very special" hero got embroiled in the "very special" mess and WHAT he did to resolve said mess. That was, after all, the answer to "What's the fictional plot?" right?
It took me a while to realize that every story I wrote and verbalized basically had the same plot: the protagonist's journey through life. 
Any story ever written, be it fictional or not, has this common element. There's a Hero. He has a problem. And we get to know him as he tries to solve that problem. Whether he solves it or not doesn't matter so much as what he learns from solving it, how he grows as a character. (The plot arc.)
So, in my journey as an author, what I've learned, people, is that "What's the fictional plot?" is really a simple question or rather several simple questions in guise of one big, scary one:
WHO is my hero/heroine?
WHAT happens to him/her?
WHY does it happen to him/her?
HOW does he/she resolve it.

And that's really the beginning, middle and end of any story.

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