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22nd April 2013, 07:01 PM #1
Lesson Nine: Plot Flow by Flaze
Hello everyone! A bit near the end of the month but I was distracted by uni for most of the past few weeks and completely forgot about it all. Flaze has written a great article that flows rather nicely, so sit back and enjoy! :D
Well hello everybody. My name is Flaze.
As some of you may know, I’ve been around the workshop for quite a while; however I’ve never actually had the courage to do an article as I’ve been…a bit nervous to do so I guess. This time, I decided that I wanted to give it a shot, so I hope that I can be of some help for some of you and remind others about things they have to know for their own story.
Now without further ado let’s talk about…
So before we get started on what the article really is about I want to address the complex and at the same time very obvious definition of plot flow. Now, as it says on the tin, this refers to the way that the plot moves along the story, how events are able to follow after each other and gain momentum from each other. The phrase “united we stand” applies to this, due to the fact that once all of these things that make up your story, both the big and the small, unite it will create a marvelous piece of work or a cluster of something…yes, let’s call it something.
Okay so, let’s break this down and bring its core out. First of all, the thing that sets up the flow of plot is one of the most basic things in writing.
A beginning, a middle and an end.
Now these things are as obvious as 1,2,3 and it’s a rule of thumb that every story should have. However, that’s not all, that’s merely the basics. Think of the story as a body, and the plot is the soul of the body, if there’s no soul then all your left with is an empty shell to put it simply.
Also before I start off I’d like to add a small summary of what plot flow represents.
And that’s this little chart.
plot summary flow chart
I will also be borrowing quotes and inspiration from this article, courtesy of the always willing writing world.com.
Plotting by Personality
Okay…now let’s get down to this. We’ll start off with…
Before you start your story you obviously need a plot; plotting might be a bit tough at times though, normally people start out with a small idea and they have to try and figure out how to expand on it more. This is where a person’s style starts to come out for the first time.
As stated by the article I put up above:
“To find out the best way of plotting for you, first (a) think about your usual approach to problems then (b) try a few different methods. It's not certain that the 'best' way for you will dovetail with your personality type, but it's likely”
What this means is that you need to think about your own way of dealing with things, and how your personality and the way you do things affect the way you plot. Truth be told, you can tell a lot about a person’s personality from the way they write or the kind of stories they write most of the time, take Edgar Allan Poe for example, a very mysterious and serious guy that ended up coming with what could be accounted as the first works of the Goth genre of books as well as having stories with dark themes.
It all comes into play, your personality, your true self will show in your work even a little and this is why taking your personality into account is something that’ll help you plan your plot out and as thus get with the flow of things.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering about what I mentioned before regarding how events must connect with each other. There is actually a method for this and it is called:
It’s pretty much mentioned right above here; a good way to plan the events and things that will happen in your story is by putting them all down, gathering them up, and branching it together as they go along. You can see a bit of an example of it on the chart link above.
You must put everything here. Characters, obstacles, events, elements that are important, they all go here and they all help each other out. This of course applies to the plot as well and branching them all out will help you know where everything’s going to go “If this happens then this should happen next” and things like that, kind of like building a puzzle.
By the way, remember how I mentioned characters there? Well I will get to that a bit later.
The beginning, we all know what’s this is, it is the start of the story, it’s the point where our tale starts being told. Now we all know what we have to do in the beginning of the story but for those that are still learning and those that need some help I’ll explain it.
The beginning is where the story starts fleshing itself out, characters are introduced and events start taking place. Now, this part of the story is the bones of the story, what you do in the beginning should follow up in the middle and the climax.
So what I mean is that the beginning is the thing you should plan out the most before starting on a story. How will the story start? What kind of characters will you introduce? How will the things that happen here be relevant to the rest of the story? A million of questions can come out from just that one 9 lettered word.
As you can probably tell by now, the events of this part will be very important, the reason for this is because we’re learning about the characters as we are introduced to them as well as being introduced to what the plot is about, that’s why there can’t be anything left out.
What happens here has to lead to what will happen later, there can’t be any missing pieces as it will all come to in the end.
Now beginnings can vary a bit depending on the story and what the author wants. There are story that begin from zero, basically they introduce the characters and plot elements by starting off with nothing, a completely clean slate.
Then there are stories that start off with already active plot elements, say a story that starts in the middle of a war and goes from there, basically the story starts off in the middle of a situation with elements already in place that will be explained as the story goes.
I will be pointing out some examples of beginnings now looking not farther than our own Writers Worshop. For one there is The Girl Who Listens to the Hearts of Dragons by @Gotpika; this story is about Iris and her past while training with Drayden and how she will eventually become who she is.
The story starts off by introducing Iris as well as her life before she went off to train with Drayden, something that none of us were introduced to in the games and something that makes this story unique. The story itself is still pretty early on but it does a good way of introducing the characters, their personalities as well as their goals and struggles.
Now I’ll point out an example of a story with a setting already in place. This story is the Mirage Forest by @Kyuuketsuki; and it’s a story that I find quite interesting in all honesty. This story borrows and expands on the origins of the Delta Pokemon introduced in the card games as well as the Holon region. The story starts off with a company that’s already researching and scouting Mirage Island for ways to create their own artificial region, with a mystery and characters already in place that are revealed as the story goes.
Basically one of these stories is a car that’s just starting from rest and the other is a car that’s already been running a few miles before the start, and both of those beginnings are pretty good, though most people tend to lean towards the first example rather than the second.
Now if you’re just starting out, and I mean really starting out then I’ll recommend for you to go with the first scenario unless you’re really really sure you can pull the second one off. It’s not that it’s hard, but introducing characters and such doesn’t come as fluently when the setting is already set, you have to pick a good moment to introduce them. In the first scenario it’s easier to introduce characters and the setting because you start from nothing, which is what journey fics are usually like. So if you’re someone with no writing experience I’ll recommend the first one but by all means you should experiment and find the one that suits you the best.
Now then, let’s move on to the next part.
So now that you’ve completed the first part of the story it’s time to move to the next part. The middle is.
The middle is…the middle, to put it simply.
But jokes aside. This part of the story is where the plot really begins to move along, now that the characters and the setting are ready it’s time to get things in gear and to start unraveling the secrets of the story. This is the reason why I said that everything at the beginning should be connected with the story in some form, this is due to the fact that this part of the story borrows heavily from that and follows on what was done before, if there is a line that isn’t connected then the story might lose itself.
Of course this doesn’t mean that things don’t keep happening, while you unravel what happened at the start you also start creating more questions that will need to be resolved as you go, or maybe you can resolve a plotline that you created in the beginning only for it to turn into an even bigger plotline here.
In my opinion the middle of the story is both the hardest and the easiest part when it comes to planning the story out. It’s the easiest in the sense that since you already know where you started and where you’re gonna finish it isn’t too tough to fill in the blanks; however, that isn’t always the case, a lot of people have trouble filling the blanks that go in between the beginning and the end mostly because you have to think of something that follows from what happened and leads to what’s going to happen without making it seemed rushed or sudden.
Let’s take Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows as an example. At the start of the story Harry and his friends set out to find the Horrocruxes so that they can kill Voldemort. The story centers around this theme while also putting its own mysteries on the table. In the middle of the story this plotline leads the group back to Hogwarts which in turn puts them in the center of the battle that’ll begin the climax of the story.
So there’s an example, a theme that is introduced in the beginning evolves as it goes through the story and it eventually leads to the end, it might change a bit or a lot during the course of the story but it’ll eventually get there.
Before finishing this part I’d like to state that there is a specific point in the middle that is kind of in between the middle and the end. This point is usually shown as a point of struggle where a character’s hopes are shattered or everything seems hopeless and bleak.
This point in the story is good to raise tension and drama but it also allows you to look back at how much the character’s changed from when the story first began, the majority of books, film, video games and tv shows do this and depending on what kind of character it is that develops it will lead to the climax, whether good or bad, essentially this is the point where the character finishes it’s “evolution” and is able to go into the final stride with a clear mind.
So now all of the plotlines that had been going on separately have finally connected into one point, everything has been settled but this, the characters have been fully developed and they’re ready to finish what they started.
This is the end or climax, the point where the story is finally settled and everything is revealed in one swift motion. The climax is that point in the story where things really shine, it’s the point where everything you’ve done has to make sense and come to a nice and clean close.
The ending is in my opinion at least, the most fun but also the most pressuring part of the story. The reason for this is that, as I mentioned before, everything has to make sense. It doesn’t matter if your story up till now has been the best thing ever, if its climax ends up being subpar then it won’t matter.
The same can be said about a story that has been average up to that point, if it ends up having a thrilling climax that keeps you at the edge of your seat then it’ll end up being a lot better.
The reason it’s so pressuring is because you have to please the people that read the story as well as yourself, after all, when one starts a story they think about how it’s going to develop but also about how it’s going to end. As the story goes on people begin to wonder how it’ll all come to a close, what does the writer have in store? It’s something that everyone wonders and wants answered.
Now, the good thing is that the ending is one of the first things that comes to mind in the planning stages; however, just because it’s good in your brain doesn’t mean it’ll come as good in your writing, that’s why an author has to keep going back and criticizing on whether it really is a good enough ending.
Also keep in mind that an ending will change as the story goes, you might start with a planned ending but that doesn’t mean it won’t change once the whole story’s written, I can say that from experience.
Anyways. As I mentioned before, when you reach the point you have to make sure that everything makes sense, you have to solve every plotline you created and give development to every character, or at least the most important ones, you have to leave your reader speechless and walking away with a smile on his or her face, or crying tears of sorrow whichever one you want.
Regarding what I said about an ending changing as you go, the ending might sometimes change because of what you think is best for both you and the reader. You might think that your ending is perfect but you should always ask yourself “are they going to like it?” it’s true that a writer should write for the sake of writing, but you’re also an entertainer and an entertainer should always give his best for those that cheer him up.
Now that we cleared that up there is one more thing that I’d like to point out about plot flow, don’t worry, it shouldn’t be too long.
CHARACTERS AND PLOT FLOW
So you might wonder why characters are important when it comes to plot flow. Well the reason they’re important is because your characters are the center of the story itself, sure the plot is important but it should also go around your characters rather than just stand by itself and pull the characters along the story.
A character’s actions or personality might help influence the plot and get it moving, in a way it all depends on them because what they say or do might end up deciding what is going to happen, how it’s going to happen and what’s going to happen later.
This takes me towards the idea of a Character Driven story and I’ll be quoting a post by NoirGrimoir one of our own WW writers for this one:
“In a character-driven story, the primary obstacles and struggles are internal and/or intangible, such as succumbing to a desire for revenge, learning to love again, or wrestling with decisions regarding morality or duty. Pros are that emotional impact and reader connection is very high, and you can leave the reader with something much more lasting to think about. Cons are that it can be more difficult to write well, and you definitely have to be knowledgeable in terms of people and how they think, since internal processes are the core of the story.”
Essentially what this means is that with a character driven story it makes it easier to focus on the emotion, and this emotions will also lead the flow. Keep in mind that a good story should have a mix of both, so while your character’s emotions and struggles help the plot move you should also make sure to have a deeper plot of your own.
Well, this article ended up being longer than I originally planned it to be xD; so I hope that you’ve enjoyed it and that I was able to help in teaching you guys, I have to admit I was a bit nervous at the start.
With that in mind, stay tuned for the next article of the Writers Academy and put your own ideas to the test with your own story. This is Flaze signing off.
22nd April 2013, 07:34 PM #2
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
Re: Lesson Nine: Plot Flow by Flaze
Gotpika changed his name to Druddigon.
Anyway, regarding the article, it made me happy that my story was considered good enough to be used as an example. It's a great article, and it could be very helpful for beginning writers. Going by the mention of characters, and how they relate to the plot, I felt that the following video would be very helpful for streamlining the process of creating that relationship.
I was considering writing an article about the Monomyth, but it didn't seem sufficient enough, and everything that I wanted to say was already self-explanatory. Hopefully, this video will be useful now. TEDEducation have some other videos regarding writing, and all of their videos are educational and great; I suggest seeing some of their other content if you're willing to be sucked into a vortex of learning.
22nd April 2013, 09:50 PM #3
Re: Lesson Nine: Plot Flow by Flaze
Wow, I was quoted! My life is validated. O_O
Great article, Flaze! Simple, informative and easy to understand. I hadn't really seen anything about personality and planning before, so I found that part very interesting. Kyuuketsuki already mentioned the monomyth, which is worth putting out there (and it's really interesting), as long as you realize that it definitely isn't the only way to write a story. Also worth mentioning is the Dramatic Structure, which goes along well with what you've already presented. Here's a little blog entry about it (they're call it freytag's analysis, but it's the same thing): Plot Structure - English.
Official Claimer of the Pokemon Pumpkaboo | Official Claimer of the Move Trick-Or-Treat | Official Claimer of the Items Silph Scopeand Odd Keystone.If you like comedy, check out my fanfic "You Win Some, You Lose Some" (CHAPTER THREE UP!) | For some supplementary art, visit NG's Sketches 'n Stuff!
23rd April 2013, 08:20 PM #4
I'm Fired Up!
Re: Lesson Nine: Plot Flow by Flaze
Why thank you everyone xD I was honestly a bit nervous while I was writing it cause I didn't know how it was going to come out, but I'm glad that you guys like it.
Though I probably should've thought of the Monomyth, though that would've made the article longer, plus these articles are also for you to add your own thoughts and insights so thanks for pointing those things out guys :3