Here’s a COOL approach to PLOT that can summarize everything we’ve been talking about until now!

Okay, so we’ve been talking about it for a while now, the PLOT thing. And I also want to say that I’ve read a few screenplays this week and most of them have good dialogues, descent or great descriptions and overall entertaining action, but most of them fail at the plot department. Simply put, the answer to “what’s the story about?” and time and time again I’ve been reading confusing answers to this question. There is a general sense of the concadenation between the scenes, that one and the other are linked by some sort of sense, some direction forward, yet most of them set something and finish it without taking the time to explore the subject in hand, while others don’t even start it at all.

This is why it’s so important to have an idea of a plot, in a sense we’re talking about the whole universe of the story moving through the character, shaping him into a new sense of being wether he triumphs or fails.

So! Here’s a cool way to think about plot in a meaningful yet simple way.

  • A story starts with an initial action, usually a highly dramatic one.
  • The background is the context that offers vivid and crucial information to determine our main character’s actions in the story.
  • In the development phase usually the background causes problems  in present time because of the initial action, which brings background to the present via conflict.
  • Also, in the development you outline what your character wants and what’s standing in their way.
  • In the climax there’s a key twist for the story, where all the threads come together.
  • The climax usually ends in a decision to be made.
  • The ending is what happens to your character after the climax.

There you have it! And I also feel that we’re all understanding a key element in plot, the elements combining together, merging into the character’s path. And this is I feel the most important thing to keep in mind about the whole concept of structure, the thread that connects all the elements is the protagonist, the character and their emotional journey into the unknown, into change.

Okay, that’s the last thing we’ll talk about plot for a little while, but we’ll obviously come back to it at a later time because it’s such an important part of  a story. Next time we’ll talk a bit about the minimal dramatic structure, the scene!

What’s the real importance of thinking about a STRUCTURE while writing a STORY?

So, we’ve been talking about this for a while now. But let’s be honest here, many people just grab a piece of paper and start writing about anything, and chances of landing in a good story this way are not that far off. Many professional writers don’t follow a proper structure, or so they say, and accomplish stories anyway. So, is it really that important to think about one before writing a good ol’ tale?

First of all, I think we have to understand something, whether we like it or not, every story follows certain structure, even those we write without thinking in organizing the information will find a way into a stablished form or shape, and there are many shapes to follow!

The one we were discussing before, the one most commonly referred as a plot, in its most basic form, it’s composed of:

  • The inciting incident
  • A character
  • An obstacle (rising action)
  • A quest.

A primitive form of premise to organize all of these elements would be something like this:

When an inciting incident happens to a character; they have to overcome rising action to complete the quest.

But there are other structures that a writer can rely on when devising a new story. And of those other structures, the most basic one, and maybe the one that doesn’t help anyone to write, is the Aristotelian three acts structure.

  • The beginning, set up for characters, their relationship, wants and desires.
  • The middle, rising action until the climax.
  • The end, the plot is resolved.

Now, after Aristotle there were obviously other dudes wanting to impose their structures and wisdom upon mankind, one of these bastards is called Horace. He came up with a five acts structure, not to compete with Aristotle or anything, right?

It’s called the ABDCE structure.

  • A for Action, must be specific and concrete (active). Involves a character doing something.
  • B for Background, or context before the story started, only essential information here.
  • D for Development, basically the character facing the rising action, forcing them to develop succeeding or failing to overcome obstacles.
  • C for Climax, the higher point in the rising action, the key narrative twist that changes your characters in a real and significant way.
  • E for Ending, this is where the change in the characters is shown, the end of their journey.

Now, having into consideration structures and all of this, there’s one thing that really makes a difference when thinking about them. This is the circular feeling that some stories have that connects the beginning and the end, the signal of the hero’s journey.

The circle represents the leaving into the unknown and the return back with the fire, with the knowledge from the journey.

But in the case of another type of story, like the virgin’s promise, the structure can become something along the lines of a spiral. This structure signals the journey into the inner world, deeper and deeper inside oneself in the hopes to find roots, to find the same fire from the journey into the unknown, just not out there but inside.

But these are just some examples of structures a writer can use in their quest into the perilous of developing a new idea.

Okay, so that’s it with structures. Next time we’ll make a quick resume of this whole plot idea before moving into other storytelling related stuff, the idea here is to finish this strong base from which we’ll be able to build amazing and complex stories in no time! Actually, a lot of time and effort… Don’t delude yourselves!