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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.

6 comments:

Rachna Chhabria said...

Yes Richard, I too have heard that there are just few basis plots and every story is kind of based on one or more of these. Yes, plotting a book makes it easier to catch the weak spots before we actually write them down. Good luck with plotting.

Jeff Hargett said...

I've reached the conclusion that my pantser and plotter halves will always vie for dominance and doubt either will ever prevail. Interested in seeing how it plays out for you, Richard.

Valentina Hepburn said...

I've heard there are seven main plots with variations on a theme. I'm not sure if this is correct but I know I always write about strong women, or women who have to overcome some difficulty or other. Now that I've finished the first story in the Random Knight trilogy which I didn't plot before I began, I'm going to plot the second and third just to see if it makes life any easier.
Good luck with plotting. I'm interested to know how it goes for you.

Emily R. King said...

Hmm, I've done the same, and I have to admit, it was difficult for me as well. I felt constrained by the other plot line.

Best of luck to you!

Tanya Reimer said...

When I was much younger I would use old stories as a template, and just write over the plot in place. It was fun but it always felt blah. I am a pantser. I let my plot and characters tell me the story. Rewriting is for fixing their wanderings. I could save time by plotting, but what would the fun be in that? LOL

Good luck, let me know if it works.

Rose Munevar said...

I've never plotted things out on paper, but I do have a very general idea in my head. I've thought about trying those kind of books- I'll have to keep up with your progress and see if you find it worthwhile!