steering the craft

Plots and subplots

plot subplots May 11, 2022
 

 One of the principles I teach my Path of the Storyteller students is the virtue of structuring your story around a single, iconic protagonist on a single, well-defined “mission.”

You can think of the mission as an actively pursued and highly particular purpose. It’s a goal that’s sufficiently well-delineated that, once your readers know about it (which they will, by the end of the first act), there’s an end-of-second-act scene that they can anticipate so clearly, it's like we've made them a promise to get there. And get there we must. 

There’s a ton more to say about it, but for the moment, let's use that hero-on-a-mission principle as a simple working definition of plot. What's your hero doing for the whole book? That's the plot. 

But you know and I know that novels are not bare-bones affairs. Even highly focused, novella-length works (I’m thinking about A Christmas Carol ...

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What’s driving the plot?

character plot process Mar 10, 2022
 

I sometimes stumble upon conversations between writers that make me scratch my head a bit. There’s a lot of terminology about writing craft floating around out there, that’s for sure!  And writers don’t always agree upon what even familiar terms mean.

One recent example was a debate about character-driven stories versus plot-driven stories. Talk about confusing!

Do character-driven stories have plots? Do plot-driven stories have characters? The answer to both questions has got to be yes, so what exactly do these terms signify? 

And if neither character nor plot can unequivocally be said to be “driving” the story, what is?

In this livestream, we talk about what character-driven and plot-driven might really mean. 


My weekly livestream about story structure, writing craft, and the mindset of the working writer happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific on YouTube. Come live and participate! Or...

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