Thursday, November 13, 2008

Plots R Us

Several of the last books I read all had rather standard plots. Now, I realize that many stories will have the same basic plot.

For example, there's the Revenge Plot. Something bad was done, now I must kill you for it and spend the entire book to get there. I will have to overcome many hurdles, including (or especially) you trying to kill me first.

Another is the Clear My Name Plot. I have to run around and hide to clear my name of the thing I'm being accused of. In the process, I will find out who is framing me and have to defeat them. And more than likely, they'll be after my ass, too-- lucky me.

The secret, or so I'm told by the gremlins that type things on my computer and call it the internet, is to have a situation and/ or characters that is so compelling that it overcomes any plot short comings.

My problem? I'm not nearly confident enough in my character-creation or situation-development to think that I can over come a potentially cliched plot. This poses some serious problems because so many plots have been done before.

If nothing else it forces me to stretch my brain. Makes me think in new and different ways so that I don't feel like I'm reusing that old and stained plot. But it's not easy.

No one told me writing good was this hard...

What are some other plots on the shelves at Plots R Us? Let's have some fun with this. I could use a chuckle. =)

Image from Stock.xchng


Anonymous said...

The heist that goes bad plot. I think that's nearly every heist story that's ever been written. I don't think there's ever been a successful heist in the history of fiction. I'm guilty of this on one occasion.

More as I think of them.

Anonymous said...

Vicki Hendricks has done this next one in at least two of her novels, Miami Purity and Sky Blues. Far from being the only one guilty of this plot, Ms. Hendricks does it better than anyone else, in my opinion.

It's the "He or she isn't what they seemed to be in the first handful of chapters but now that I've slept with them and looked in their medicine cabinet, I now realize that I just had sex with a psycho!" plot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What I'm even more conscious of is the repetition of storylines on TV shows. How many times have you seen the gift of money given and then regretted when the giftee spends it foolishly. Or the two dates for the same evening plot. In books, usually there's enough variation in execution to make it work. Usually.

Anonymous said...

I agree one hundred percent. I guess I expect a lot of that kind of thing out of television. I'm not sure sitcoms have had an original idea since Lucille Ball did it all on "I Love Lucy".

How many different ways was that show imitated?

James Bennett said...

You may want to take a look at a book called Story Structure Architect, which does an excellent job dissecting and laying out the bits and bobs that make up the plots and narrative structures that have, for good or ill, become the "standard set".

I've had a copy for some time now, and while I wouldn't recommend following it too closely, it is an excellent analytical tool for when one is stuck.