By: Now Novel
Some writers swear by writing on the fly and letting themselves be guided by their characters or by instinct. However, it is possible for all types of writers to take charge of the plot and steer it in the desired direction from the opening sentences to the final paragraph.
The first thing to keep in mind is that while structure, story and plot are all related to one another, they are not the same thing. Structure is something that can be shared by hundreds, thousands or even millions of stories, but the stories themselves can be very different. This is why most movie screenplays can follow a similar three-act structure regardless of genre or story, and it is also why the scholar Joseph Campbell was able to identify a number of key structural points in different myths from all over the world.
The novelist and critic E.M. Forster differentiated plot and story by defining
story as simply a recounting of the events and plot as more concerned with what
events caused other events. This definition can help you discern a common
weakness in plots. That weakness is the causal relationship. In other words, in
order to have a strong plot, incidents must cause other
incidents to happen. Therefore, plot incorporates the elements of story, but it
must also demonstrate why the things in the story happen.
The classic example that Forster gives is that the king died and then the queen died is story while the king died and then the queen died of grief is plot. As you can see, the latter example reflects a causal relationship.
Do you need to plan ahead?
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