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Author Topic: Plot -- Part 3  (Read 5094 times)

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Bob Mueller

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Plot -- Part 3
« on: October 17, 2006, 04:57:35 PM »

Date:         Thursday, January 21, 1999 06:22 PM

BookMarc #11
Plot - part 3

Our starting point, the base of Plot-line Mountain; conclusion, the top. For our example, let's not start with a preconceived need, just to show another way of doing it. This I noticed is how Elmore Leonard usually does it, put the protagonist in a given situation and goes from there. Remember, we said plowing the Humvee straight to the top is bo-oringgg.

Our hero, Oself, Our Other Self, is out for a Sunday drive in the wilderness. His plan is to drive around Plot-line mountain, but jams on the brakes as the road is blocked by logs. Then an explosion blows away the bridge behind. And bullets start zinging off the Humvee's downhill fenders. See folks, a casual afternoon has turned into what's called, in Cliche City, a situation. Oself has a sudden need, not only for a restroom, but to get the heck out by the only way open, over the mountain.

Oself slams the Humvee into gear, yanks the wheel and mashes the pedal, spraying gravel as he bounds over rocks and humps and bumps, hell-bent on a yo-yo for the summit. Two hundred feet up, out of rifle range, he finds an old logging road and eases along with birds singing in filigree sunlight. All is right with the world. Oh, yawn.

Oself barrels around a curve and over a crest, hiding a deep wash, and the Humvee soars like a lead eagle. It mashes nose- down into the gulch, and Oself, neglecting to wear a seatbelt, no doubt earning him a traffic citation, crashes against the windshield. Birds now sing inside his head. The Humvee rolls downhill, backwards, toward a sheer drop-off. And the brakes don't work. And the door won't open. On either side. Oself hops in the back and by punching and kicking and cursing and-- when all else fails--praying, breaks open the tailgate. He dives out pancake-flat into a bed of thorns. The Humvee scrunches over him and plunges off the cliff. Oself waits, and waits, waits. A crunch of metal meeting stone, followed by an explosion, disturbs the idyllic day. A black cloud rides an updraft to waft away in a gentle breeze. Ssssson-ofagun.

Our hero climbs back up the gulch to the logging road. Now the grade is easy again. A lazy zephyr drys the sweat on his brow, and a chipmunk complains at his passage. The sun is warm on his back. The reader's eyes start to glaze.

Oself checks out the view from an outcropping when tiny puffs blossom at his feet, sprouting sprays of rock shards. Say what? A rifle crack echos in the mountain air. And again. Holy excrement--or whatever--someone is shooting at him. Oself dives for cover and lands in a rocky gulch, bashing his knee. Oh darn. And breaking his elbow. Oh pshaw. And loose stones send him sliding down an escalator to hell. Egad gazooks.

Weeeell, you get the picture. All of this up and down is to get our readers to buy deeper and deeper into Oself's future, to grit their teeth in determination to hang with him till journey's end. Compare this to a Humvee driving up in third gear.

The mountain line is a metaphor for all plots. As we mentioned earlier, Oself must continually face downturns and over come them, growing stronger each time, mentally if not physi cally, till at last he's ready for the big finale, the mountain-top climax we have targeted from the beginning.

But before that, in BookMarc #12, we have one more thing to do before the denouement, the final outcome. How's this for leaving you in suspense?

Copyright Peter E. Abresch BookMarc February 13, 1998

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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