Friday, June 17, 2022

Leaving breadcrumbs: how to write plot


I love language. I love a good sentence. I work on my sentences. I have fun when I get to do this, especially in later drafts, because it is one way the characters come to life and the setting comes to life.


Also, I love dialogue. I can reveal a lot of character in a conversation. It’s not just what people say but how they say it. This is also language focused. You have to make the language work.


I love style, a certain writing style. It’s about rhythm and author voice and a particular way of seeing the world, whatever that world might be.


I love character. I love to develop them, discover them, and make them give the story meaning by specific details of a life.


Wait, isn’t this supposed to be about plot? So all those aspects of storytelling I mentioned above are based on language and character. My books are character driven, that is scenes made by characters in situations. But the actual plot has to come from another place. Writers need to see that. Practice plot in isolation until you can put it together with character and language in an intuitive way.


What’s plot then? It’s leaving breadcrumbs for the reader to follow. These lead to a destination that is expected and unexpected and satisfying. Each breadcrumb must be take the reader a little closer to the destination and be interesting in and of itself. When the reader reaches the destination it will be spectacular and the breadcrumbs will all make sense. If you do them well, your reader will follow them with anticipation and the anticipation will be satisfied. You will have several plots like this in a novel but one of these will be the main plot. You will have character arcs, too, that will function in the same way. Breadcrumbs to destination.


And that is that.

No comments: