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Work Room - Week 34

You have your results from last week: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/826108.html
You have the topic: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/826357.html

and the Quick Fire: http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/826465.html

and in that topic, we have an opening to talk about "Plot".

I googled "Plot" quote and it took me to some from Goodreads. Here are some quotes about plots that amused me:

“When all the details fit in perfectly, something is probably wrong with the story.”
― Charles Baxter, Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction

“Character is plot, plot is character.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

“Stories start in all sorts of places. Where they begin often tells the reader of what to expect as they progress. Castles often lead to dragons, country estates to deeds of deepest love (or of hate), and ambiguously presented settings usually lead to equally as ambiguous characters and plot, leaving a reader with an ambiguous feeling of disappointment. That's one of the worst kinds.”
― Rebecca McKinsey, Sydney West

“In our modern age, there are writers who have heaped scorn on the very idea of the primacy of story. I'd rather warm my hands on a sunlit ice floe than try to coax fire from the books they carve from glaciers.”
― Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

My book has no plot. Wait, yes it does—in the cemetery. It’s a love story where one character is dead, and the other is a dirty pervert.”
― Jarod Kintz, My love can only occupy one person at a time

How do YOU feel about it?


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2015 02:30 am (UTC)
Oh man. I have Thoughts and Ideas about plot and story. I really enjoy stories that are light on plot - and enjoy writing them - but I still want to tell a story, even if it's not explicit in a plot-heavy structure. One of my personal goals with writing is to get more comfortable with plot. I usually think of it and talk about it as being comfortable with verbs. I want action, progress, conflict - SOMETHING - in my stories. I don't always succeed, but I want to get better at it.

But of course, I have no idea what to write. I doubt that a long nattering post on Process and my Personal Growth As A Writer Person would work (or work for me personally. I do, after all, like plot. Heh).
Jan. 20th, 2015 12:31 pm (UTC)
Sure it would. Just make the long nattering post the first in a trilogy. ;-)
Jan. 20th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Can't foooool meeeee. I might make some friends-only process posts eventually, but it's unlikely I'll natter for Idol. ;)
Jan. 20th, 2015 05:24 pm (UTC)
i have a terrible time with plot, which i always define to myself as "the shit that actually happens". (i wrote a nanonovel that was almost completely devoid of plot. 50k words and practically nothing happened.) "being comfortable with verbs" is a good way to put it. i am apparently NOT comfortable with verbs (unless they're sex scene verbs), but i reallllly want to be.
Jan. 21st, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
It's hard, honestly. I mean, my most comfortable narrative forms are retrospective narratives (where people sit around talking about shit that happened) and correspondence pieces (where people write to each other about shit that did happen or might happen).

Though I'm awfully fond of sticking a framing gimmick on things, sometimes it helps to strip that framing gimmick away instead. When you find yourself writing a conversation between two characters, especially if it's about stuff that was off camera, just stop and instead start writing *what they're talking about*. Focus on the verbs. I try to remind myself that I can always change things later - it feels super awkward to me to write in present tense, for instance, but it's good exercise.
Jan. 21st, 2015 07:53 am (UTC)
When I am in sit-down-and-immediately-write mode (doesn't often happen) I usually find myself in present tense, get a third of the way through, and go back and change it all to past tense.
Jan. 20th, 2015 02:36 am (UTC)
Also, question on the QuickFire, Gary: is it "open topic" for the prompt there again?
Jan. 20th, 2015 02:44 am (UTC)
Good catch!

It's Open Topic.
Jan. 20th, 2015 02:54 am (UTC)
Let the story breathe. Don't shackle it with your expectations. If you let it run free, it will find ways to surprise you.
Jan. 20th, 2015 03:31 am (UTC)
Let the plots go free! Let them go streaking across the football fields of your stories!

Jan. 20th, 2015 12:35 pm (UTC)
Quite the opposite. It's the stories that should be streaking -- plots are the nuns habits they're forced to wear. Plot enforces a very particular sort of order on your story. If used The Wrong Way, it'll squeeze the joy out of your story entirely.

Or, put another way: when we're young, we have coloring books with pictures in them. First we color outside the lines, because we don't know any better. Then we color inside the lines, to learn the rules. Then we color with no lines, because we want to experiment. And then we draw our own lines in order to tell our own stories.

(the_lettersea is feeling particularly explicative today.)
Jan. 20th, 2015 01:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think "story" was what I'd meant to type, but I was watching TV at the time as well, and got confuzzled. Plots plod, stories streak - got it.
Jan. 20th, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)
I was going to say plot is the fence that keeps the herds of story from wandering all over the place but I like the coloring book metaphor better.
Jan. 20th, 2015 03:26 am (UTC)
If my writing comes to a halt, I head to the shops: I find them very inspirational. And if I get into real trouble with my plot, I go out for a pizza with my husband.

--Sophie Kinsella

That's pretty much me, lol!
Jan. 20th, 2015 04:01 am (UTC)
I first came across this phrase in an episode of "Doc Martin." It was the very rude doctor's reponse to someone's complaints-- "Well, I can't help it that you've lost the plot..."

Meaning, lost his mind or has no idea what's going on. It cracked me up. Maybe it's a common British usage, but I'd never heard it before.
Jan. 20th, 2015 10:17 am (UTC)
Dunno about British usage, but it's definitely common terminology in Australia. I'd say that phrase most weeks, I reckon! Mostly about myself, sometimes about other people :)
Jan. 20th, 2015 05:56 pm (UTC)
It was clear, from the show, that Brits know what it means. It still struck me as a hilarious euphemism.

And still fairly rude, in the context, which is what Doc Martin himself is all about. ;)
Jan. 20th, 2015 04:59 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it's commonly used over here :)
Jan. 20th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
The good rude doctor never lies!
Jan. 20th, 2015 05:20 pm (UTC)
there was a season or two of sons of anarchy when i used it a lot in my sporadic commentary.... because one of the characters seemed to have lost his damn mind. i have no idea where i picked it up, tho.
Jan. 20th, 2015 06:46 pm (UTC)
It's kind of irresistible, isn't it?

I definitely feel as if various TV shows or movies have sometimes lost the plot. Things degenerate into random action or blather, and the focus is just gone. :O
Jan. 20th, 2015 06:36 am (UTC)
From Wiktionary:

lose the plot (third-person singular simple present loses the plot, present participle losing the plot, simple past and past participle lost the plot)

Used other than as an idiom: see lose,‎ plot.  
(idiomatic) To cease to behave in a consistent and/or rational manner.
(idiomatic) To lose sight of an important objective or principle; to act contrarily to one's own interests through concentrating on relatively unimportant matters.  

Edited at 2015-01-20 06:38 am (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2015 11:30 am (UTC)
That Stephen King quote made me laugh in that "it's funny 'cause it's true" way. I have some thoughts on that, but I also have to finish my coffee and head off to work, so they'll have to keep.
Jan. 20th, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)
It was great, wasn't it?

If you're a character-driven or "discovery"-mode writer, as I am, it is very much a real thing! :O
Jan. 20th, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
If you're a character-driven or "discovery"-mode writer, as I am...

I have found my tribe. :)
Jan. 20th, 2015 12:37 pm (UTC)
Urge ... to home game ... rising ...
Jan. 20th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
Do eeeeet!
Jan. 20th, 2015 07:16 pm (UTC)
Give in to the urge...
Jan. 22nd, 2015 10:33 pm (UTC)
I am here to report that this prompt is giving me nothing but problems.


That is all.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )


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