Shut up about the plot already

Shut up about the plot already

A Lesson by Mike Lamb
"

"Does this further the plot?" "Why? The plot's already there. I'll get to it when I get to it."

"

Storytelling weaves its own plotlines, and sometimes the trivial diversions are just as important as the major events. Not every moment in the story has to be an affirmation of "the plot." The plot isn't going anywhere. The characters are. Let the plot hide in the shadows once in while, then come crashing back onto the scene when you least expect it. It's great that your hero has goals, but don't be so goddamn OCD about it.

 

Here's an example of excessive plot advancement:

 

Sir George went outside to check the mail. There was a note from the princess. It read "George. Help. Kidnapped by dragon. Love, Princess." "Oh no, the princess!" said George, who was a knight, and also in love with the princess. "I hate dragons! They steal the princess! I love the princess!" So he put on his dragon repellant armor and grabbed his sword for killing dragons, which he called Dragonslayer, and went off to Dragon Castle to rescue the princess. He knew she was being held captive there because the letter said, "P.S. I'm at Dragon Castle. It's the big stone castle with the dragon in the front yard. Can't miss it." Sir George went to town on the way to Dragon Castle. He met a guy in the town. The guy said, "Hello brave sir knight. You must be on your way to Dragon Castle to slay the dragon." George said, "Yes I'm going to slay the dragon and rescue the princess." So the guy said, "Here, take this magic apple." So George took the magic apple and continued on his journey...to Dragon Castle. Because of the...thing, with the...princess.

 

Well I think you can see where this is going. So just remember, getting there is half the story, so don't keep rambling on about your stupid quest/plight/driving force. It's hollow and boring. The plot isn't worth s**t if you can't frame it right.



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Comments

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Posted 5 Years Ago


The best stories that keep my intention have a few key ingredients: really jumpy and realistic dialogue, lots and lots of action that is tied together, and of course personality! You want to feel for the characters, but sometimes the best characters bend the reader to their will--entice them to follow their lead.

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Posted 6 Years Ago


This advice is geared towards novels more so than short stories. Instead of completely shifting gears in an ADD spazz-out during a short story, just start a new one. Dialogue, as far as I'm concerned, is never restricted to "plot relevance" as long as it's in tune with the character.

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Posted 6 Years Ago


Now I should probably make a few amendments to this. One, you can get away with a lot more off-track rambling in first person than third. In omniscent third person, it's good to keep focused and weave the sub-plots together in a way that everything is interrelated on a cosmic scale. But when you try to pull off the same thing in first person, it can come off as a string of lame coincidences. Good if your protaganist is a paranoic, but unrealistic for the average Joe.

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Posted 6 Years Ago


lmao @ Mike's comment! In the novel that I am writing, I decided to throw in about a 12 page story that I had written as a side-line project involving one of my main charries. It started off a new chapter and came completely out of left field and had absolutely nothing to do with the storyline whatsoever. Now I knew that I was in for a tongue lashing from the howling masses of know-it-all a******s and wannabe writers of the site that I posted on. Instead, one of my main negative critics actually left me a comment saying he enjoyed the little side-trip. Just more proof that when you write the way you want to and say to hell with what others say, sometimes it pays off. Not always, mind you, but self-publication IS always an option ;D.

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Posted 6 Years Ago


Always follow Standard Practice. Do not improvise. All words must follow plotline. All deviations will result in verbal warning, then written warning, then termination of book deal. This is how you have to write. Because old people said so, long long ago.

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Posted 6 Years Ago


Somebody once told me, "if it doesn't advance the plot or develop character, it doesn't need to be in the story."
Was this guy right, or just an a*****e?
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Added on September 21, 2010
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Author

Mike Lamb
Mike Lamb

greenville, NC



About
Artist, writer, and a drunken lunatic prophet. I am the author of Jack's Inferno, a dark comedy bizarro/horror novel about Hell, previously published through Wordplague (now defunct). I am also a pro..