Friday, August 6, 2010

Writing Tip - Plot

I once read where there are only three basic plots and I think this is true. Man against Man. Man against Himself and Man against the environment. I also read ages ago that one could use elements other than the one chosen. This is particularly true in sweeping novels.

Man against man comes up frequently in romances, fantasy, mysteries and other works. Two people have the same goal and only one can obtain it. Or two people have opposite goals and only one can win. When there is a villain in the story man against man comes into focus.

Man against himself often us used in psychological dramas. The protagonist has to fight against some deficit in his own character. Gambling, alcoholism and greed come readily to mind. Threads of this can be fed into the man against man scenario adding depth to the plot.

Man against the environment comes up often in disaster stories. Or in the protagonist taking on a social problem. The environment is more than ecology or storms. Part of the man against the environment comes from the protagonist pitting himself against nature, Think of the Perfect Storm. Elements of this can be woven into a story that is mainly man against man or man against himself.

Much is in how the author uses these elements. And there is another element that is vital when deciding how to plot the novel and that is Time. While a novel may follow generations of a family or years as a person, some novels happen in a day, a week or a month. Before beginning the story setting a time deadline on when you'll reach the end of the story can be good. Do the events occur over months, weeks or even days. Knowing the time limit on the characters can add depth to the story.

1 comment:

Taryn Kincaid said...

I've read various numbers, usually 7, I think. This web site lists from 1 to 36!
Voice and variables make it infinite.