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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plotting from previous plots

I've been reading a couple of books about plotting novels/stories. These books say basically that there are no original plots, only old plots reworked over and over again. The authors claim that many of the current best sellers are based on plots already in existence, taken from all sorts of sources--the Bible, mythology, previously written novels, Shakespeare's plays, and so forth. The novelists just dresses them up differently, maybe giving them a new spin. The authors seem to claim that even if we do not consciously use old plots, we do so unconsciously.

I have never consciously used previous plots to plot my novels. But I am leaning toward trying it. In fact, I am trying to construct a novel now based on Master Plot #3: Pursuit from 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias. I'm trying to combine it (not yet successfully) with Master Plot #4: Rescue from the same book. I am trying to follow the Planner/Plotter model as opposed to the Pantser/Discovery model. (I've always been a pantser.) In other words, I'm attempting to plot out the entire novel before I start writing it. There is no time limit for getting it done. I'm just thinking and writing possible scenarios, hoping I'll hit on an exciting plot. Once I've worked it out, I'll begin writing.

This is difficult work for me. It doesn't seem natural. But I can see the value in it. I think I can also see how doing this might make it easier to write the query letter, the synopsis, and the pitch. Anyway, I'm giving it a try.

How about you? Have you consciously used existing plots as the basis of your stories? And, if you have, how has it turned out for you? I'll let you know how it turns out for me as time goes along.
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