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Thread: Plot Structure

  1. #1
    Senior Member Miranda Clementine's Avatar
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    Plot Structure

    I've read a few books on plot structure, and I keep reading irritating advice; the "facing one's demons" strategy.

    This advice bothers me because in the past few years this type of thing has annoyed me in movies and novels alike. When it is set up, I can already guess what the MC is going to have to do later. I hadn't realized that it was actually something that everyone is advised to do.

    For example I'll use The Hunger Games. At one point the MC tells us how squeamish she is around injured people. And it is mentioned again at least two more times. As soon as she introduced it the first time I knew she was going to have to face that demon, and of course she did. There were other subtle "demons" that she had to face, but they were less annoying and didn't seem out of the blue when she mentioned them.

    I really like an oldie, The War of the Worlds. I just finished reading it last weekend, and I noticed, this strategy was not used. I didn't learn any of the MC's fears. I mean really, the martians were attacking, that held my interest just fine. I think it would have been disruptive if the MC mentioned his phobia of being in close contact with strangers, only to have to allow new people into his life during the ordeal.

    Am I the only one who feels this way?

    This is not to say that I will not follow the advice if it works, and I do have "naturally" occurring phobias/demons, but I hadn't realized it was something we must strive to provide to our audience
    Even those who make their living in dreamland must do their chores in the real world.
    -Scarlett Rice
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  2. #2
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    In general I think I have to agree with you on this. For me, anything that smells of "formula writing" tends to be annoying, and the "facing demons" approach falls in this category - unless the demon being faced is really interesting and quirky enough to sustain itself as a central plot element (e.g., Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good as It Gets" facing his OCD issues in pursuit of love).

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    Isn't this the same as foreshadowing? If so, it is good to do--is good to do in such a way, though, that the reader harkens back to having been forewarned without realizing it at the time.

    What I don't believe in is reading books on plotting--thus being spoon-fed formulas. I believe in doing a lot of reading and a lot of writing and developing your own techniques.

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    I don't know anything about the Hunger Games. I was just wondering if it was a character driven story as opposed to the plot driven story in War of the Worlds. If so, maybe you just like plot driven stories better.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Miranda Clementine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kessler View Post
    What I don't believe in is reading books on plotting--thus being spoon-fed formulas. I believe in doing a lot of reading and a lot of writing and developing your own techniques.
    I should have said I've been "skimming" through some plot structure books, I've been unable to finish any. It is more for curiosity than anything. I didn't think I would gain much from them (and I was right). I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything important. Thank you for the advise though, I like hearing that I was going about it the right way (before I picked up the formula book... lol).

    Tinman- I did like The Hunger Games, very much... up until the end that is. It was just one of my more recent reads, so it was the first example that popped into my head. I think it is a more character driven story... I'm not sure. There are many aspects of the plot that the MC cannot control, but many things she gets herself tangled up in with good and bad decisions.
    Even those who make their living in dreamland must do their chores in the real world.
    -Scarlett Rice
    MC

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    I have a thing against stories that sock the "intriguing" stuff to you way too soon:

    "Hi Harold, how've you been?"

    "Well, I'll be darned! if it isn't my brother-in-law Joe -- husband of my older sister Lucy, who, as we know, has been in Europe for the past three months!"



    *_*

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    Yeah, Kitty, that's plain old expository writing, the "As you know, Bob...." variation of telling instead of showing.

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    I don't really think that's the same concept as foreshadowing.

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    Nope, and it wasn't meant to be, Gary. I just felt like, um, derailing.


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  10. #10
    Senior Member Miranda Clementine's Avatar
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    I see nothing wrong with that passage, Kitty. At least it wasn't in the narrative... lol yes, I kid, of course. You're right I have been stopped a time or two with obvious information.
    Even those who make their living in dreamland must do their chores in the real world.
    -Scarlett Rice
    MC

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