Friday, April 16, 2021

Friday - Reed Stirling is visiting and talking about Plot and other elements #Plot #Characters #Setting #BWLAuthor


On Who, What, When, Where & How leading to Plot:

An idea for a story takes root and then things evolve from there. That’s where How comes into play, which relates to structure, development, and point of view. What depends on character, the protagonist in particular, and type, and his or her moral outlook, ambition, fears, goals, relationships; in other words, Who he or she is as a representative human being, and this can determine where choices lead and how the narrative develops, thus Plot. When is a function of setting and might be suggestive of local colour or the mores of the era / epoch. Frequently enough a setting, Where, will fire up the imagination, and I’ll want to see something dramatic take place there, specifically an obstacle to achievement acknowledged by the protagonist and then overcome, or not. Plot determines the action, character can determine the outcome, but theme is never to be overlooked.


How my characters are created:

My main characters tend to be protagonist-narrators in pursuit of truth as they understand it or as plot and theme define it. Providing them with creditable personality, background, and motivation is not only challenging but also rewarding when things fall plausibly into place. Simple observation of real people in real life exchanges — a young couple in a hospital waiting room, a tête-à-tête in a bar or restaurant, someone behind the wheel of a luxury automobile noticed at an intersection — helps in the general conceptualization of characters. A particular scene will give birth to characters whose voices demand to be heard — that man wearing a Panama hat or that tiny woman wearing bright red shoes. Imagination informs them with a personal history, with particular traits, with relevant choices. The character I want the reader to identify with may not be lovable at all. As long as he or she is interesting, has a voice worth listening to, and is capable of reflecting authentic human instincts, naughty or nice.

An antagonists can be born out of the observation that people, a specific exemplar, for instance, lie repeatedly. I favour antagonists that arise from within main characters and shadow their every move. An idea or stated point of view might need a counterpoint, an opposing view, the right interpretation, the verifiable truth, or just plain obstruction — these factors will give rise to certain characters, main or supporting. Thus, antagonists come into being and help move the action along from crisis to crisis. Antagonist can be well-meaning in their contrariness or destructiveness. They can have malicious intent in their apparent goodness. A plausible personal history goes a long way towards giving them standing. Humanize them, like all characters, through voice, mannerism, idiosyncrasy, tic, flaw, aspiration, success, failure, mendacity, and size of shoe. A black hat might just be in vogue at the time of the story, and not symbolic of a really bad dude with a .45 in his hip pocket. A scar might be emblematic of love or a badge of honour. A penchant for odd-ball humour can lighten what appears to be nothing but dark. The antagonist can be a force-field of repudiation or disdain. A troublesome memory. A inveterate liar.


First scene:

Scene one is vitally important. It is something I labour over most intently and that includes the first sentence, sometimes the first word. 


Plot determination & how the story will end:

I need to have at least a general idea where my characters are going and how they get there. This applies especially to protagonists. What happens along the way, i.e., plot, may surprise me but ultimately lead to what was intended at the inception, to what is aesthetically, thematically, and intrinsically true.

Greek mythology plays a significant role in underpinning my plots. Knowing the myths helps readers grasp what is going on in the background. Allusions to art, literature, philosophy, and religion serve a similar function.



Theme and story determine my settings. Some settings are constant, except for individual scenes within them. I determine a particular house plan, should it be necessary, depending on considered purpose.



More recently I research things online. However, the reference books I consult (be they |mythological, philosophical, psychological, or historical) I find on my own shelves or on those of our local library. Most enjoyable is research done in situ, Greece for Shades Of Persephone, for example, and Montreal in large part for Lighting The Lamp and Séjour Saint-Louis, my most recently published novel. Reading other fiction can also be a source of helpful information. Simple observation of people can be very insightful, verisimilitude being the objective of the exercise no matter the setting. Bars and cafés are preferred places to pick up on relevant dialogue.


Drafts  and Revisions:    

All initial effort leads to producing a workable first draft. Revision is ongoing. The material produced one day is subject to close reading on the following day, and so on till that first draft is attained, which ultimately takes me back to page one. Changes along the way result if a statement is unintentionally ambiguous or if a passage seems to be leading the potential reader in the wrong direction. Sometimes sequencing can be off. Or dialogue. Or description. Or even one word. Getting it all down in a logical, coherent way takes determination, organization, and hard work. Revision at all stages, in whole or in part, is somehow more rewarding for me than the original writing. Several drafts produce a working MS ready for editing.


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