Welcome to the first post in my five part series on plots!
(Wow did that sound incredibly stiff and formal, pardon me.)
I’ve written most of these early in anticipation of NaNoWriMo this month. And I’ve already given you a Segway. So, without further ado, I give you:
That’s right; I’m introducing a series I’ve already introduced.
Here’s the deal: I’ve got four things I’d like to highlight later, given by these vague titles:
“Clichés and All”
“Twists and Turns”
“The Weaving of Arcs”
“Bringing it All Together”
Before I talk about those things (whatever they may be), I’d like to just talk about plots. Plots, to me, are the hooker. Others like characters, but I always judge by the plot. Without a plot, the mash of characters means nothing. They’re together to be… together. No story goal, nothing. (Yes, I realize slice-of-life stories are different, I’m writing one myself, but those aren’t my focus).
A plot is like a tapestry. It has hundreds of threads all woven together to make a masterpiece that will be admired forever. Each individual thread is different, unique. Without it, the tapestry looks wrong; it’s missing something vital.
Poorly-written plots are easy to spot. They fall apart dues to gaping holes in them. They’re templates of other books and the conflict is weak to non-existent.
I won’t spend much time on what makes plots bad through the duration of the series (rather, I’ll spend time on what makes them good), so I want to take a moment in this post for a quick list:
1. Lack of conflict. This is the most obvious of all problems in plots. When the conflict is low or weak or not there at all, I’ve no reason to keep reading. Oh, and character relationship tension doesn’t count as conflict until I actually care about the characters.
2. Plot holes. These tend to be more varied and harder to assign a solution. However, plot holes have one thing in common: laziness. The writer was lazy. They didn’t think it worth the time to work out said plot hole.
The hole can take any form, from Dues ex Machina talents, to paradoxes to timelines not matching in.
3. Clichés. Based on the titles of the other posts, this will come up later [next week]. Not all clichés are bad. However, the more there are, the worse it gets. In addition, not all clichés are created equal.
Some clichés for example:
- The “Chosen One” main character (only they can save the world)
- Prophecies (well, select ones are)
- Rebels (why are so few peasants content with their leaders?)
- Discontent royalty (does no one realize how royalty actually works?)
Plots are wonderful, beautiful things. They bring your Ally to the Heroin’s aid; create twist after twist after villainous twist. These simple devices turn the admirer into the love interest, the jealous kid into the dastardly naysayer of evil.
They can be weak, they can be strong.
And it’s up to you.