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On Plot and Structure

On Plot and Structure. Brandon Patterson. Overview. Plot Definitions, quotes, etc. LOCK Method Structure Three Act Structure Transitions. Books Used as Examples. Definitions. Story: a series of events recorded in their chronological order

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On Plot and Structure

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  1. On Plot and Structure Brandon Patterson

  2. Overview • Plot • Definitions, quotes, etc. • LOCK Method • Structure • Three Act Structure • Transitions

  3. Books Used as Examples

  4. Definitions • Story: a series of events recorded in their chronological order • Plot: a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance • Structure: the relationship or organization of the component parts • “Plot is about elements, whereas Structure is about timing” --James Scott Bell

  5. Quotes about Plot • Alfred Hitchcock once said that a good story was life, with all the dull parts taken out. • Only trouble is interesting • Once you have your character, ask this question: what is the worst thing that could happen to this person?

  6. Four Questions Readers Ask (Consciously or not…) • What’s this story about? • Is anything happening? • Why should I keep reading? • Why should I care?

  7. Inverted Checkmark Crisis: Simba confesses he killed Mufasa Conflict: Simba is Mufasa’s son and heir to the throne. But Scar wants to be king. Scar has an army of hyenas Nala finds Simba, he refuses to return Simba nearly dies Simba is joined by friends and family Scar kills Mufasa Simba learns the truth, defeats Scar, and becomes king. Found by Timon and Pumpa Attacked by Hyenas Rafiki reminds him of his destiny Simba flees Mufasa comes

  8. LOCK Method • Lead • Objective • Confrontation • Knockout

  9. Lead • A strong plot starts with an interesting Lead character. • Someone we want to watch for the duration of the novel

  10. Objective • Our lead character must have a want. A desire. • It can be to get something. Or to get AWAY from something. • Must be ESSENTIAL to the well-being of the lead. If not achieved, it will be life-changing for the lead

  11. Confrontation • Opposition from characters and outside forces • Make readers fret about the lead, keeping them emotionally attached to the story

  12. Knockout $$$ The big payoff $$$

  13. Exercise • Think of one of your favorite novels (or movie) and analyze it using the LOCK system. Use these questions to help you: • What is it about the Lead character that captures you? • What is it the Lead is trying to obtain or get away from? • When did the story kick into “high gear”? • What was the main opposition to the Lead’s objective? • How did the ending make you feel? Why did it work?

  14. Alternate Exercise • Write a quick plot for your current idea. Use four lines, one line for each step of LOCK. • My Lead is a __________. • Her objective is to __________. • She is confronted by ________ who oppose(s) her because _____________. • The ending will be a knockout when ______.


  16. Three Act Structure • Beginning • Middle • End

  17. The Beginning • Present the story world • Establish the tone • Compel the reader to continue • Introduce the opposition

  18. Middle • Deepen character relationships • Keep us caring what happens • Set up final battle

  19. Ends • Tie up all loose ends • Give feeling of resonance

  20. Initiating Incident • Start with character in the ordinary world • The disturbance • The “new” status quo

  21. Transitions- Doorway #1 • Takes the reader from Beginning to Middle • A doorway of no-return

  22. Transitions- Doorway #2 • Takes reader from the Middle to End • Sets up the final battle

  23. Exercise 2 • Analyze some novels or movies with a view toward understanding their three-act structure. Specifically note: • When is there a disturbance to the Lead’s ordinary routine? What happens early on? • At what point is the Lead thrust into the conflict? At what point can he not return to normal? • When is there a major clue, crisis or setback that makes the climax inevitable? • If you’re bored, ask yourself why. Look to see if the LOCK elements or three-act structure is weak.

  24. Extras- List of Plot Patterns One Against One Apart Power Allegory • The Quest • Revenge • Love • Adventure • The Chase

  25. Extras- List of Conflicts The heart in conflict with itself —Faulkner Man against machine Man against God Man against himself • Man against man • Man against nature • Man against society

  26. Extras- Alternate Plot Ideas • In Medias Ras • Literary Fiction

  27. References • Plot and Structure- James Scott Bell • How to Write a Damn Good Novel- James N. Frey • Writing Fiction—a Guide to Narrative Craft- Janet Burroway& Elizabeth Stuckey-French

  28. Questions?

  29. 終わりOwari

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