BASIC PLOTTING

All successful (read: popular) stories have patterns. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's complex, but all of the stories read or told often enough to remain in the popular mind of any culture have a pattern, a plot.

Basic PLOTTING
by OokamiKasumi



A plot is the pattern a story follows, the most common being:

-- Beginning
-- Middle
-- End

All successful (read: popular) stories have patterns. Sometimes it's simple, sometimes it's complex, but all of the stories read or told often enough to remain in the popular mind of any culture have a pattern, a plot.

Here are some examples of simple plot patterns…

Traditional:
• He came.
• He saw.
• He conquered.

American Dream Version:
• He saw.
• He conquered.
• He became very rich.

The Heroic version:
• He came.
• He conquered and became the leader of his people.
• He died in the middle of a glorious battle to defend his land, and became a legendary figure that would never be forgotten.

Erotic Version:
• He saw.
• He conquered.
• He came.

Aristotle's Elements of a Greek Tragedy - simplified:
• Act One: He rose to glory.
• Act Two: His pride drove him to make a foolish, but costly, mistake.
• Act Three: He crashed and burned.

Aristotle's Elements - American version:
• Act One: He rose to glory.
• Act Two: His pride drove him to make a foolish, but costly, mistake.
• Act Three: He crashed and burned.
• Act Four: He fixed his mistake, and rose again to conquer.

Your basic Romance plot:
• The lovers are thrown together.
• The lovers are forced apart.
• The lovers go against the odds to get back together.

Your basic Yaoi Romance plot:
• One lover seduces the other.
• A misunderstanding drives one lover away.
• The lover that misunderstood chases the other lover down to beg for forgiveness.

Your basic Adventure plot:
• Hero meets Villain.
• They fight and the Villain wins.
• The hero rises from his defeat to battle the Villain again, and wins the war.

Your basic Manga Adventure plot:
• A group of friends meet a Villain.
• The villain corners them individually and defeats each one.
• The friends rise from their individual defeats to team up on the Villain and win the war.


I can already hear the whining…

"But that's so…formulaic! Where's the creativity?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Creativity is Overrated.

Ever hear the phrase: "It's not what you have, it's what you do with it,"? This is especially true when writing stories. It's not the plot, but what you do with the plot that makes it creative.

No matter what those Creative Writing classes teach, for a story to be enjoyed by the widest possible audience, it needs to have some sort of structure, a pattern -- a plot.

Why?

Because a story without some sort of plot pattern reads…wrong. Everyone, in every culture, has been trained from childhood to EXPECT a story to follow some sort of pattern to take it from Here to There, and make some sort of point too. In fact, some of the hottest blockbuster movies including 'Star Wars' follow one of the oldest plot patterns in human history -- the Heroic Cycle, as codified by Joseph Campbell.

The Heroic Mythic Cycle:
(Paraphrased to avoid copyright issues.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Act One - Chosen

Humble Beginnings
Destiny Comes Knocking
Shoved into Adventure
Sagely Advice ~ Paramours & Sidekicks

Act Two - Challenge

Leaving the Known World behind
Challenges, Friends & Foes
Battle at the Crossroads

Act Three – Crisis

Into the Labyrinth
Temptation & Betrayal
Anger ~ Despair ~ Sacrifice
Inheritance / Blessing / Curse
Treasure & Celebration

Act Four – Climax

Escape / Expelled from the Labyrinth
The Hunter becomes the Hunted
Rescue & Loss of Paramour / Side-kick
Battle at the Crossroads to Home
Death / Rebirth
Delivery of Treasure & Just Rewards


A great many people who write quite successfully 'by the seat of their pants,' may tell you that they don't need to plot, they just…write it from beginning to end. That doesn't mean their stories don't follow a pattern. It's merely that the plotting pattern they use is so ingrained into their subconscious they follow it instinctively -- without even knowing they're doing it.

Unfortunately, that's not a talent I possess. I have to work everything out on paper or I get lost in a hurry.


How to Use a Plot
"What is plotting good for anyway?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, the best use of a plotting pattern is so you don't get lost in the story. Think of the plot outline as a road map marking out the most direct route from Here to There. This doesn't mean you can't take side trips to sight-see or visit friends along the way. It's merely a way of keeping track of where you are, and where you should go next, by knowing where you intend to end up. Knowing your basic route ahead of time also makes it much more difficult to get lost on a back road or trapped in a cul-de-sac.

In short, if you know where you're going when you start out, sooner or later, you'll actually get there.


A note on Japanese stories…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: 'Eight Ways to say You ~ The Challenges of Translation'
By Cathy Hirano


The most obvious differences between Japanese and English writing styles are organization and tone.

My English composition classes in high school taught me that English is supposed to flow in a linear fashion, from introduction, to body, to conclusion, and that a statement should be supported by a logical explanation. Even in literature, a book works toward a climax, and then a conclusion. In contrast, Japanese composition appears almost circular, and although it has its own logic and organization, it is very different from how I learned to write in school.

In English, we stress clarity.

In Japanese, subtlety is preferred. The Japanese writer dances around his theme, implying rather than directly stating what he wants to say, leaving it up to readers to discern that for themselves. He or she appeals to the reader's emotions rather than to the intellect, and tries to create a rapport rather than to convince. The Japanese reader, in turn, is quite capable of taking great leaps of imagination to follow the story line.

Cathy Hirano is the translator of The Friends, winner, for Farrar, Straus & Giroux, of the 1997 Batchelder Award.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Go HERE to read the whole article.


In Conclusion…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
-- By using even the most basic of plot patterns, the writer can keep track of not only where they are in their story, but where they intend to end up. This makes it very easy to avoid the most common pitfall of fiction writing: "The story's halfway done and I have no idea how to end it!"

Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: As with all advice, take what you can use and throw out the rest. As a multi-published author, I have been taught some fairly rigid rules on what is publishable and what is not. If my rather straight-laced (and occasionally snotty,) advice does not suit your creative style, by all means, IGNORE IT.

Posts

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Ciel
an aristocrat of rpgmaker culture
243
wow i never wanted to post on this site again bujt wow wow wow wow wow wow wow wow holy shit the new standard of human stupidity has just been set wow! i have been "shell" shocked into popsting and i cannot help this! is this real life??? letme just chjeck my pulse ooooooh nooo my veins are flowing with pitch black ink
author=CAVE_DOG_IS_BACK
this is a technique known as "fake alliteration"


spoken like a true master of the art of structured writing
wow, I could never do that, you're so structured
Dudesoft
always a dudesoft, never a soft dude.
5391
I'm not entirely sure why I bother participating in the education of RPGMaker people.
It's like throwing dust at a wall.
Lol at haters. The more you post, the more this article will be read.

This is a good article for it can provide direction to those in search of some. Those who disagree or don't want to use them should just ignore it, as stated at the end of the article.
If you think the article is inaccurate, it's perfectly fine to point out what you think is inaccurate. I'd even go so far and say it's better to do that than not to since an inaccurate article is harmful. However, I'm getting the impression that a lot of people here thinks this article is inaccurate because they don't like it, as opposed to not liking the article because they think it's inaccurate.
Talent is absolutely not bullshit.

I've played with dozens of athletes twice as good as me who have never once worked as hard as I do on my craft. Actually, I don't even know why I would need to give any kind of testimony to such an obvious truth.

Saying that talent is bullshit is chalking up people's inadequacies to laziness. No, you can't learn everything.

What an insult that you use an inhuman super genius like Mozart as your example. You think no parents in history have ever drilled their kids in music as comprehensively as Mozart's parents?

Anyway, back to the article.
for a story to be enjoyed by the widest possible audience

That line needs to be prefaced at the top. Otherwise, I have to disagree completely.
so are you saying that no matter how much i practice i cant be like lionel "playstation goals" messi

my dreams are vanishing before my eyes.....aaaa fuck talent
Dudesoft
always a dudesoft, never a soft dude.
5391
author=Sauce
What an insult that you use an inhuman super genius like Mozart as your example. You think no parents in history have ever drilled their kids in music as comprehensively as Mozart's parents?.

Super genius?
By compared to who? You? He's very famous. In 50 years will JK Rowling be a super genius?
She was famous, not the best of this generation.
author=Dudesoft
Super genius?
By compared to who? You? He's very famous. In 50 years will JK Rowling be a super genius?
She was famous, not the best of this generation.

I don't get anything you're saying here.

Mozart was definitely a freakish child genius. He's pretty much the standard for child prodigy. He's not just 'famous.' So is Lionel Messi. Yeah, no matter how much you practice, you won't be able to replicate what they can do. So no, talent is NOT bullshit, it's damn important.

I don't know what JK Rowling has to do with a discussion of talent.

Art is a form of language. You LEARN it. Anyone can be taught to paint. Anyone can be taught to play music, anyone can be taught to speak Japanese.
If you grow up in a house with Japanese parents, should I be impressed you can speak Japanese?
Mozart wrote a symphony when was 5 or so? He grew up in a home where music was a language. His parents were both musicians.

You can teach your kids as hard as you want, you'll never get your 5 year old to write symphonies like Mozart. Talent is not bullshit. To believe otherwise is to have never once in your life tried to do something and failed while others succeed with less effort.

author=Dudesoft
author=Sauce
What an insult that you use an inhuman super genius like Mozart as your example. You think no parents in history have ever drilled their kids in music as comprehensively as Mozart's parents?.
Super genius?
By compared to who? You? He's very famous. In 50 years will JK Rowling be a super genius?
She was famous, not the best of this generation.


Hey, that's a good point, but I was just wondering, - not a big deal if you don't agree - but do you think it might be possible for quality to be different from popularity? Not telling anyone how to do their job, or how to do the job they wish they had, obviously - just pointing this out. Anyway, thanks for reading, whatever you decide to think is okay. Sorry you were already aware of this, or will never be aware of it.

author=YDS

The pain of these posts i;m reading... wrack my very soul...

no but really, just because some guy with a blog has some harebrained theory about all people being geniuses and capable of being Mozart ~deep down inside~ doesn't make it true. give 10,000 babies the same upbringing, not all 10,000 will turn out the same, therefore......
i want to be a messi so im gonna reborn myself as genius babby
"lionel van mozartoven"

age 1: play in italy u-3 team and score double hat trick against spain

age 5: compose official opera of the 2036 Tehran Olympics

age 7: buy ea sports
author=Crystalgate
That someone says something isn't much of an evidence.


Exactly. The opinions debated in this topic are just opinions, not facts supported by evidence. It really tires me to see this debate go on when it's only about opinions. There is no point to it. So I'll stop posting and hope others will follow.
everyone is entitled to my opinion
Dudesoft
always a dudesoft, never a soft dude.
5391
Boo. You're on Team Cat, though!
author=mellytan
the prosecution rests your honor

When you write professionally -- for money, Creativity isn't actually necessary. However, it makes a nice addition.

Talent is when you get it right by Accident.
Skill is when you get it right On Purpose.

Mozart may have had talent as a child, but he gained Skill from his musically trained parents.
-- No one can write a symphony on talent alone. Mainly because it takes an enormous amount of Skill just to know how to get it down on paper.
Well, that's obvious.

My argument against "talent is bullshit" is that it demeans people who fail to do something as just having done it wrong or not working hard enough or anything along those lines.

A person with talent might get twice the results out of a given amount of work that a person without talent does. And many times it's just not reasonable and sometimes impossible to just "work twice as hard to make up for it."

author=OokamiKasumi
When you write professionally -- for money, Creativity isn't actually necessary. However, it makes a nice addition.

Talent is when you get it right by Accident.
Skill is when you get it right On Purpose.

Mozart may have had talent as a child, but he gained Skill from his musically trained parents.
-- No one can write a symphony on talent alone. Mainly because it takes an enormous amount of Skill just to know how to get it down on paper.


cant say i disagree with any of this.

i'm still upset about not being able to become messi though
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