Seven Tears Into the Sea
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Terri Talks

Terri Farley
Wabi Sabi

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Playing with Plots

Dear Readers,
Lots of you enjoy writing stories, but tell me you have trouble focusing. So, I thought I'd share some classic plot ideas that are used by thousands of writers and movie makers every year. With a goal in mind, it's easier to reach the end of your story. At least that's true for me.

1. Conquering the monster -- this just means defeating an amazing force like the shark in JAWS, or Grendel in Beowulf, and can be a scary person, too. One of the worst villians I've ever read was Blue Duck in LONESOME DOVE. He still gives me chills when I let him into my mind.

2. The Quest -- a group sets off in search of something -- could be Hobbits looking for a ring or ditzy guys returning a briefcase to someone they don't know how to find -- whatever you choose, the story is in the journey and the finding or NOT finding (and not caring?).
Some INDIANA JONES movies use this plot.

3. Comedy - weird as it sounds, this doesn't have to be funny. Some kind of
misunderstanding is at the heart of these stories and keeps characters from communicating normally. For instance,Shakespeare uses lots of disguises in his work and in MERCHANT OF VENICE, two characters are attracted to each other, but the girl is in disguise as a guy and this confuses everyone!

4. Taking a Stand -- in stories like this, the main character shows moral courage (sometimes physical courage, too) by doing what's right. Note: don't be easy on your characters or her/his victory will evoke a "so what?: response from the reader. My favorite examples are TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and SUMMER OF MY GERMAN SOLDIER.

5. Tragedy - Someone gives in to the worst part of their character (greed, pride, etc.) and
becomes increasingly desperate or trapped by their action until they pay the price. This works best if this character is admirable except for this one flaw, then you feel sorry for him or her, even if punishment is deserved. MACBETH, for instance, is a basically good guy, but he'll do anything to be king (and his wife is egging him on), until he ends up dying for his ambition.

6. Rebirth - the main character is suffering -- maybe from the above weakness, or s/he has been captured, oppressed because of race or beliefs or physical impairment. The character is existing in a state of living death until something changes everything. Snow White is a character like this, but so are some animal stories like SEA BISCUIT, in which an unlikely horse hero is reborn as a champion.

7. Rags to Riches - It's fun to play with this storyline & not just have your character go from being poor to rich (like Cinderella), but you might have your character discover what's really important in life, along the way.

Of course there are many more plot ideas. Some are unique & can't be boiled down to a few words, but these could be a fun place to start.

Hoping you find wonderful stories in your imagination,

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Posted by Terri Farley @ 8:55 AM

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