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Author Topic: Plot -- Part 1  (Read 2880 times)

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Bob Mueller

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Plot -- Part 1
« on: October 17, 2006, 04:53:52 PM »

 Date:         Thursday, January 07, 1999 11:39 AM

BookMarc #9
Plot - part 1

I will tell you all I know about plotting. Some things I've learned at Georgetown University from my friends David Hoof--BLIND MAN'S BLUFF--and Marcy Heidish--THE TORCHING-- and some from reading, but a lot I gained over many years of writing before I found a publisher for BLOODY BONSAI.

The basic plot of a novel is someone wants something and strives to attain it. This want could be the reason for start of the novel, or the opening story conditions could create the want. Like the protagonist being charged for murder, or bumping into a handsome person and getting the hots. Anything except wanting to sit in front of a TV and drink beer for three hundred and fifty pages. The goal must propel our Other-Self into action. Other-self because we said characterization is an indispensable part of our story. That means building a character that we identify with, that we come to know and care about, and in most cases project ourselves into, our Other-Selves, or for brevity, Oself.

The simplest way I can describe a plot-line is that Oself is standing at the base of a mountain and the goal is to get to the top. The most obvious way is to hop in a Humvee, yank the sucker into four-wheeling, and plow straight up till Oself reaches the top. Big whoop. How boring. There is no conflict here. There is no story here.

If we want to keep our readers, folks, and want them to care for our hero, Oself must continually face downturns and overcome them, growing stronger each time, mentally if not physically, till at least he's ready for the big climax.

So what we must do is to put someone in Oself's way. Can you say antagonist? This is the snarling beast from hell who is against us just because we are really nice guys, good looking, stout-hearted, brilliant, brave, and humble. Oh yeah. And the beast could be a man, woman, Satan, the Gods, fate, the weather, or the mountain itself. The beast could even be the doubt that lingers in Oself's own mind. The beast is that which must be overcome to stand at the pinnacle and gaze beatifically down on the world, and whether Oself makes it or not must always be in doubt. In fact, failure may be Oself's fate. What matters in plot, unlike football, is not whether Oself wins or loses, but how Oself plays the game.

The desire for climbing Plot-line Mountain could be anything. The pure joy of standing at the top. A love object waiting there. A pointer to the Holy Grail. But whatever it is, Oself's want has to be desperate. In fact, winning must be the only thing in Oself's mind until either the goal is reached, or until is it replaced by something more important, say like saving a life, or winning a love, or the realization of defeat.

If Oself doesn't care if he/she makes it to the mountain top, if the need is not life threatening, physically or psychologically, why will the reader care? The more we build the intensity of desire, and the more difficulties get in the way, the more the reader is glued to the page. Come on Oself. I'm in your corner. Your stomach is ripped open and your intestines are hanging out, both your legs are broken and an arm too, you lost one eye and can't hear because a bomb broke your ear drums, in spite of it all, Lucky, I know you can make it.

Having said that, we need to mention, in BookMarc #10, that the difficulties we put in the way must be logical.

Copyright Peter E. Abresch BookMarc February 13, 1998
Date:    Friday, January 08, 1999 08:55 PM

Okay, Rhea, Jane, Judith,
Yes, subplots are woven into the story, woven into it like accent colors in the overall tapestry, but the main theme must be to climb that damn mountain. The more desperate the protagonists need, the more the reader will be locked into the story. It he/she doesnít really care, then neither will the reader.
Joe Detective has this case which has been dogging him for a million years, itís worth a million bucks to him, or itís to get the killer of his one true-love. Of course he has to take other cases--he needs to make a living--but this is the case that is driving the story. And yes, the need could simply be that he needs to solve it, but make it an obsession with him.

And for Vivan and Laura. And all.
BLOODY BONSAI can be ordered from or any of the major bookstores, B&N and Borders. If you would like to see the first chapter and cover, as wall as that for KILLING THYME which comes out September, go to

It is a brand new web page I just put up today and Iím still feeling my way around. Right now it takes to long to load, so I have to do something with that. When I got it right I was going to ask your opinion on it, but you guys are always jumping the gun.
As for giving you a little history, some in on the web-site, but Iíll try to get back to you here in the next week or two when I have room to breath.
Hope all this helps.

Sometimes it takes therapy to put the past behind you. Other times, it takes a 20 gallon trash bag and a couple of cinder blocks.
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