is the organized pattern or sequence of events that make up a story. Every plot is made up of a series of incidents that are related to one another. PLOT
Occurs at the beginning of linear story. Here the characters and the setting of the story are introduced. Most importantly, the audience is introduced to the main conflict or problem.
This part of the story begins to develop the conflict or conflicts. A building of interest or suspense occurs.
This is the turning point of the story. Usually the main character comes face to face with the conflict. The main character will change in some way.
All loose ends of the plot are tied up. The conflict(s) and climax are taken care of. Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action
The story comes to a reasonable ending. Any remaining conflicts are resolved Resolution
The structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film from the perspective of the Audience. It is ALWAYS a fundamentally linear concept. Dramatic structure What it is: What it isn't: Story Models: Mapping linear and non-linear story nodes. Note: This is a model explaining why we have models for story. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his "Poetics" (c. 335 BCE) in which he called plot “the arrangement of incidents” that follow one after the other in logical order.
He put forth the idea that "A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end."
This three-part view of a plot structure is still the basis for today's model of "the dramatic arc," which uses slightly different divisions but is substantially the same concept overall.
The terms for the Greek model were coined by the fourth-century Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus. He defined a play as being made up of three separate parts: protasis
catastrophe The final resolution in a poem or narrative plot, which "unravels" the intrigue and brings the piece to a close. In comedies, this may be a marriage between main characters; in tragedies, it may be the death of one or more main characters. It is the final part of a play, following the protasis, epitasis, and catastasis. a catastasis (pl. catastases) is the third part of an ancient drama, in which the intrigue or action that was initiated in the epitasis, is supported and heightened, until ready to be unravelled in the catastrophe. It also refers to the climax of a drama. (catastasis) The catastrophe is either simple or complex, for which also the fable and action are denominated. In a simple catastrophe, there is no change in the state of the main characters, nor any discovery or unravelling; the plot being only a mere passage out of agitation, to quiet and repose. This catastrophe is rather accommodated to the nature of the epic poem, than of the tragedy. In a complex catastrophe, the main character undergoes a change of fortune, sometimes by means of a discovery, and sometimes without. The qualifications of this change are that it be probable and necessary: in order to be probable, it must be the natural result or effect of the foregoing actions, i.e. it must spring from the subject itself, or take its rise from the incidents, and not be introduced merely to serve a turn. Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist's well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe. "Eucatastrophe" is often confused with deus ex machina, in that they both serve to pull the protagonist out of the proverbial (or sometimes literal) fire. The key difference is that the eucatastrophe fits within the established framework of the story, whereas the greek technique of deus ex machina, the "God from the machine", suddenly and inexplicably introduces a character, force, or event that has no pre-existing narrative reference usually for the purpose of saving the day. Campbell's "Magic Flight" if you will. Man vs. God - "Apocalypto"
Man vs. nature –“The Day After Tomorrow”
Man vs. man - "Die Hard" Series
Man vs. his environment (situation) - "The Piano"
Man against technology – “I Robot”
Man against religion – “The Da Vinci Code”
Man vs. Society (in the middle) - "Falling Down"
Man & Woman - "Sleepless in Seattle"
Man vs. himself - "Rocky" Man vs. God
Man vs. nature
Man vs. man
Man vs. his environment (situational)
Man against technology
Man against religion
Man vs. Society (in the middle)
Man & Woman
Man vs. himself the part of a play in which the main action develops. From "teinein" to stretch - a "stretching" but intensification of the events. the introductory part of a play, usually its first act. Great plot is all about the conflict and the conflict is all about denial.
Identify what your hero desires, then deny him that want.
If your story lacks this fundamental, you may have no conflict and your plot may fall apart.
Think about the way you wish to design your plot. Can you create an unusual way to tell your story?
Will you use flashbacks?
Should you tell the story from a different point of view?
Will your story be character driven, as in a coming-of-age story, or plot driven as in most thrillers?
Should your plot be complex or simplistic?
(Thrillers are typically more complex than a coming-of-age story, for example.)
Imagine your plot if laid out in various ways and determine which works best for your story.
Whichever technique you choose, remember it’s the conflict and characters’ passions that make your plot work. Deus Ex Machina The 3-Act format prevailed until the Roman drama critic Horace advocated a 5-act structure in his Ars Poetica:
"Neue minor neu sit quinto productior actu fabula" (lines 189-190)
("A play should not be shorter or longer than five acts") 5 Act Structure 3 Act Structure After falling into disuse, renaissance dramatists revived the use of the 5-act structure.
It's highly evident in Shakespearean plays and evidences a pyramidal structure --->
Until the 18th century, most plays were divided into five acts.
In 1863, around the time that playwrights like Henrik Ibsen were abandoning the 5-act structure and experimenting with 3 and 4-act plays, the German playwright and novelist Gustav Freytag wrote "Die Technik des Dramas," a definitive study of the 5-act dramatic structure, in which he laid out what has come to be known as "Freytag's pyramid." KEYWORD: CONFLICT DECISION/DESIRE Another way to look at it: The Conventional Types of Conflict One of the most important things you can do if you want to succeed as a writer is simply to be so much better than everyone else.
Do that and publishers (and the reading public) will sit up and take notice. Pay full attention to the finer points of writing - those seemingly small things that most writers don't bother with in the rush and tumble of writing their work.
In the case of plotting a novel, these small things are...
• Foreshadowing, or signposting your novel's most exciting events (this will keep the readers turning the pages).
• Dealing with your novel's exposition (or backstory) in such a way that you don't bore the readers.
• Writing any flashbacks in such a way that you move seamlessly from the present to the past and back to the present. Advanced Elements of Plot future stuff past stuff back and forth stuff "Your predecessor, a storyteller of many centuries ago, recited his stories around a fire. If he failed to arouse his listeners' anticipation and droned on, or if his audience guessed what happened next, they either fell asleep or killed him."
- Sol Stein
Comprises events between the falling action and the actual end of the drama or narrative and thus serves as the conclusion of the story. Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety, for the reader. Etymologically, the French word dénouement is derived from the Old French word denoer, "to untie", and from nodus, Latin for "knot." Simply put, dénouement is the unraveling or untying of the complexities of a plot.
The comedy ends with a dénouement (a conclusion) in which the protagonist is better off than at the story's outset. Exemplary of a comic dénouement is the final scene of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It, in which couples marry, an evildoer repents, two disguised characters are revealed for all to see, and a ruler is restored to power.
The tragedy ends with a catastrophe in which the protagonist is worse off than at the beginning of the narrative. In Shakespeare's tragedies, the dénouement is usually the death of one or more characters.
More modern works may have no dénouement, because of a quick or surprise ending such as the arrival of adults in Lord of the Flies. On the other hand an example of a modern work with a particularly elaborate dénouement is Tolkien's Lord of The Rings. Dénouement, resolution, or catastrophe plot generators random plot generator To rise above the competition you really just need to do two things:
1.Work hard and take your time
2.Learn your craft
1. Work Hard and Take Your Time
Writing a novel is very do-able but equally very challenging. It also happens to be great fun and hugely rewarding, of course, but there will still be difficult days.
Writing fiction also takes time. Despite what many online adverts want you to believe, you simply cannot write a novel in 30 days - at least not to a publishable standard. 300 days would be pushing it.
And if you are just starting out, you realistically need to allow yourself a minimum of two or three years.
Statistically, most novel writing beginners quit early on. So if you commit yourself to the long-haul, you will immediately place yourself head and shoulders above a large proportion of everyone else out there writing novels.
2. Learn Your Craft
And I mean really learn it, just like every successful writer has. Kind of learning the novel writing "rules" is what most beginners do. They buy a basic book on how to write a novel and think they are suddenly masters of their craft.
But this level of knowledge just isn't going to cut it in today's competitive world. The fact is that for every 200 manuscripts submitted to literary agents, 199 of them are immediately returned. That means you are directly competing with 199 other writers out there to be the one who is accepted.
So what will set you apart? Well, it won't be talent. Writing isn't like sport where only the remarkably gifted can reach the top. If you have a love of words and a desire to express yourself creatively, you have all the raw talent you need.
Here is Stephen King on the subject...
"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."
It won't be good luck that sets you apart, either. Write a novel to a publishable standard and it will eventually get published. If you don't get published, bad luck (or the manuscript landing on the wrong desk on the wrong day) is the thing you will blame it on.
Most beginners are not willing to commit the time and effort required. In fact, most beginners won't even make it as far as submitting a novel to an agent. Of those who do complete a novel, 99.5% will be immediately rejected.
Literary agents say that this is nearly always down to one of the "classic" novel writing mistakes...
• Bad pacing
• Overwritten prose
• 2-dimensional characters
• Unconvincing dialogue
• A plot full of holes
It isn't that the rejected writers don't know their craft. They just don't know it in sufficient depth - or anything close - and that is why they cannot find a publisher. How to write publishable work: Literary convention: a practice or device which is accepted as a necessary, useful, or given feature of a genre, e.g., the proscenium stage (the "picture-frame" stage of most theaters), a soliloquy, the epithet or boast in the epic (which those of you who took theater will be familiar with).
Stock character: character types of a genre, e.g., the heroine disguised as a man in Elizabethan drama, the confidant, the hardboiled detective, the tightlipped sheriff, the girl next door, the evil hunters in a Tarzan movie, ethnic or racial stereotypes, the cruel stepmother and Prince Charming in fairy tales.
Stock situation: frequently recurring sequence of action in a genre, e.g., rags-to-riches, boy-meets-girl, the eternal triangle, the innocent proves himself or herself.
Stock response: a habitual or automatic response based on the reader's beliefs or feelings, rather than on the work itself. A moralistic person might be shocked by any sexual scene and condemn a book or movie as dirty; a sentimentalist is automatically moved by any love story, regardless of the quality of the writing or the acting; someone requiring excitement may enjoy any violent story or movie, regardless of how mindless, unmotivated or brutal the violence is. Convention: (1) a rule or practice based upon general consent and upheld by society at large; (2) an arbitrary rule or practice recognized as valid in any particular art or discipline, such as literature or art. http://nielsenhayden.com/overlord/ The Freytag Pyramid Model source: http://www.cookinrelaxin.com/2010/01/some-visualisations-of-stories-and.html Some Visualisations of Stories and Narratives Timelines are pretty common visualisations, there’s a lovely history of them here from Cabinet Magazine. My current project is looking at representing narratives and drama online and as part of this I’ve been researching existing visualisations of narratives and stories, some of which I’ve collated below along with my own sketches and thoughts. They’re in approximate order of complexity and we start off with some relatively simple hand-drawn diagrams illustrating general plot features. The Archers A hand-drawn diagram from one of the scriptwriters on The Archers radio drama. It shows the intensity of the storyline for each character over the week.
x: time, y: intensity of story, a line per character Cinderella Another hand-drawn diagram, this from Kurt Vonnegut in his book, Palm Sunday discovered via this post. He shows the Good or Ill fortune of the protagonist over the duration of the story. The steps up represent the gifts from Fairy Godmother to Cinderella culminating in a plunge at the stroke of midnight when everything changes back again, but then the prince finds her and she lives "happily ever after" (tends to infinity).
x: time, y: fortune Tristram Shandy Illustrations from Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne circa 1760. Described by Cabinet Magazine as “indicating the non-linear path of a well-told story; narrative digressions appear as deviations from a straight line.”.
x: time, y: digression Napoleon’s invasion of Russia The classic infographic from Charles Minardi, “Carte figurative de pertes successives en hommes de l’Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813” represents the story of Napoleon’s march into Russia and shows location, time and his army size.
x/y: map, width: size of the army, annotations: events and temperature Now onto some interpretations of plot and episode structures. Hill Street Blues Diagrams from Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good for You illustrating the increase in complexity of contemporary television drama and the evolution of multiple storylines. The featured image shows a Hill Street Blues episode with each grid square representing a scene and each row representing an individual storyline.
x: time/scenes, y: storyline Jazz on 3 Following on from Steven Johnson’s diagrams I drew these a few years ago showing the fractal-like nature of nested events in TV and shows. “The radio show (Jazz on 3 in this instance) can be broken down into segments - the introduction, a discussion of the artist, interviews and a live session. Each of these segments is further broken down (in green) into the individual interviews and the individual tracks.” This could also apply to TV and radio drama.
x: time, y: scenes The Archers again This comes from a project a couple of years ago to build a web app that segmented the Archers radio drama into individual scenes and marked up each one with relevant facets. This diagram illustrates how the episodes are split up and how ongoing storylines would thread their way through the episodes.
x/y: time/episodes/scenes, annotations: facets and storylines Movie narrative charts And then there’s this classic from xkcd to “…show movie character interactions. The horizontal axis is time. The vertical grouping of the lines indicate which characters are together at a given time.” The Lord of the Rings diagram is beautifully constructed to simultaneously show time, character groupings and major locations and events.
x: time, y: character and groups, annotations: places and events Stories are rendered as TV Programmes I recently drew this after considering TV drama and how a show is a particular rendering of a story into the form of TV. The conceptual story happens along a timeline with significant plot events marked. These events are then rendered in scenes in the TV programme thereby creating a programme timeline. But sometimes events may be portrayed in multiple scenes, as flashbacks or different points of view for example. And sometimes a single scene on the TV may portray multiple narrative events. An ongoing story arc comprises many events in the timeline from many episodes.
x: time, y: rendering, annotations: connections and storylines Memento The film Memento is a particularly good example of using a complicated structure to create a compelling story and Density Design have created this set of visualisations based on it. The example above has slices showing the order of the scenes in the film and then the same scenes re-ordered as they would have been experienced by the protagonist. This diagram is also interesting and shows character involvement as a coloured bar in each scene, ordered both by film- and real-time.
x: time, re-ordered by film or real timeline, colour: b&w or colour scene Now let’s have a look at some time travelling stories which makes things a bit more complicated… Doctor Who: Blink This diagram comes from my colleague Paul Rissen who has been doing some very deep thinking about modelling narratives in data. It is based on events from the Doctor Who episode Blink) that features characters being thrown back in time. The diagram shows various timelines from the show - the timeline from the perspective of the main character, Sally (which is the same as the timeline shown in the broadcast episode), the universe timeline (i.e. how events occurred in linear time and different from the episode) and the timelines of various other characters who time travel in the episode and thus experience events in a different order.
x: time/scene (re-ordered by character), annotations: connections Time travel from fiction An original work from Information is Beautiful showing all the time travel in various films and books on a single timeline.
Universe timeline, annotations: time travel George Bush Ben Fry talks about these complex hand-drawn depictions by Mark Lombardi of “social/commercial interactions and their hierarchies, and politics” where “…he began to create drawings such as this one to depict the complex narratives he would uncover through his curiosity about anything from failed banks to corruption in government to organized crime.”. This one shows the investments and relationships of George W Bush. An interesting combination of a timeline and complex relationships.
x: time, annotations: relationships and connections Jules et Jim Finally, another set of film visualisations from Density Design based the the film Jules et Jim. The one shown above uses the curve of the storyline to represent the feelings and involvement of the three characters. There are lots of others in the set.
x/y: storyline and feelings, colour: involvement Order of the Phoenix http://movies.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70110262&trkid=3327875&t=Doctor+Who%3A+Ssn+3%3A+Blink The Archers is a long-running British soap opera broadcast on the BBC's main spoken-word channel, Radio 4. It was originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk", but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as "contemporary drama in a rural setting". With over 16,650 episodes, it is both the world's longest running radio soap and, since the axing of the American soap opera Guiding Light in September 2009, the world's longest running soap opera in any format. The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, with over five million listeners, and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/archersSee the full transcript