Let me guess: you’re a writer?
Was I right?
Okay, let me make another guess: You have no idea how to write a plot.
Did you say “yes” to both like Napoleon Dynamite, with that monotone and stressed tone of yours? Great! This is the post for you, then.
First, just relax.
You got this. Roll those shoulders back, unbutton your little shorts, and crack open a cold one, because now, you’re with the boys. I understand that a plot is not the easiest thing to do. I mean, it IS, but making a plot different from the rest of the crowd is the hard part.
If we didn’t make our plots different, we’d all be saying the same 7 stories over and over again.
I mean, we do, but that’s not the exact thing I’m trying to… you’re not making this easy on me, are you?
There’s plenty of plots we can do. We can have a story where It goes from point A to point Z, with literally nothing in between. We can have a story where a guy scratches his balls and then it cuts to the credits. That is actually a plot that is possible. But we don’t want to do that, we want to wow our readers and viewers.
A good plot has to be engaging, but it also has to be simple enough to state in a few sentences. If it’s complex, then it has to be worth that complexity. Think of your story scenes as blocks. The blocks can, in fact, go anywhere. You can have scenes out of order, you can have useless scenes added, and you can have the ending be the beginning, but it has to make sense why you’d want to do that.
This is sort of why a lot of people relate a story to a path or a road, because it’s supposed to have the story go forward. However, that is usually not the case. In a good story, a lot of stuff is skipped, taken out, changed around, switched about, it’s crazy. And in that craziness, we get a bunch of blocks that look like those massive lego sets. And that’s what blocks are for, they are supposed to have us use our creativity to make a valid and viable image or meaning, all made out of abstract and otherwise useless blocks.
Let me tell you, I work with a lot of indie writers. I go on reddit a lot, I freelance, I’m even making a website where indie writers can post their stuff and get good through a community (spread the word, please). I see a lot of the same problems, and one of those problems among indie writers is that they have NO IDEA what their plot should be.
They have all of these scenes and ideas, they dump them all on the page, then they leave and go take a fat shit and play Line Pop on the phone. It’s awful. I hate seeing this happen, because it’s like “great, all of these ideas went to waste.” I always have to compare writing and reading to cooking and eating, it makes so much sense. They are both where we produce a product to be devoured, and there’s a person devouring it.
In other words: don’t shit on a plate and call it Lasanga!
The 4 types of plots
aka the 4 bitches
AWW, HECK YES! This is the good part of the article. the part where you start seeing all the action take place. Here, we are going to talk about the 4 main types of plots. I know people like to talk about 1 in particular, known as Freytag’s Pyramid. That’s where the action goes up, and then down, and then it ends. But there’s 3 others that not many talk about, despite them being more common now:
– Fichtean Curve
– The Hero’s Journey
– In Media Res
Are you readying to get your mind/cock blown by how simple this is going to be?
1. Freytag’s Pyramid
You know what a pyramid looks like, right? It’s those things that the aliens used to land on Earth in Egypt and Mezo-america and people think humans made them.
yeah, those ones!
So the pyramid style of a plot is simple, because it’s one of the first kinds of plots going around, ever since old Greek mythologies and Shakespeare. It goes:
– Rising Action
– Falling Action
Now, this kind of story style is perfect for movies about a war, or a short story, or something simple where it’s really just one main event. This Freytag’s Pyramid is almost exactly what I use for each individual chapter sometimes. It’s simple, it’s easy to use, it’s pretty much like how an essay is written, and it keeps the story rather focused on a key flow of momentum. Begin slow, go crazy in the middle, then end slow.
Also like a pop song. I don’t know what the kids listen to these days, but it makes me feel like AC/DC uses the Freytag’s Pyramid for songs like Shoot to Thrill. And you know what: a lot of people write their stories similar to songs. We listen to music when we write, a lot of us at least. I don’t blame you if you use this way of making a plot.
The movie, the timeless classic of the century, The Sixth Day used this plot story, so don’t be ashamed.
It has it’s down side though: it’s simple, thus it’s easy to predict. If people see you doing this kind of structure for your story, they can expect what happens later on, and there’s little surprise. This makes making things out of the ordinary a little more difficult. Plus, if it goes on for TOO LONG, then you’ll have a bit of a burn out for your reader.
This is where the next type of plot comes in…
2. The Fichtean Curve
We all like curves.
If you don’t, you’re a flat-earther. Or probably vegan. Or worse: both.
For the sane and not-retard people, we love curves. But the Fichtean curve is less about being a curve and more about being a series of waves. The action begins right when the story starts. After the action, THEN we get some exposition to explain some of what just happened, and then some to explain what is going to happen. Then we get action again. This happens in a constant cycle until near the end, where it’s the conclusion.
So it’s this constant toss between action and exposition that is this wonderful washing machine of stuff going on, and we are given the good stuff little by little. It’s meant for things like thrillers, horror, action. It’s sort of because movies do it, with their little 1 hour and 30 minute restriction, and then stories started doing that more for books. So now, we have books that act like movies, and it makes it perfect for the movie to be based off of the book!
The Fichtean curve is mostly for movie-like stories with action. It’s not the be all, end all type of plot, but it’s definitely going to keep things interesting with a sort of hint of mystery. If that’s the type of story you’re going for, thrilling and mysteries, you want to use this one.
3. The Hero’s Journey
This one is very simple. So simple in fact, it doesn’t really have a shape to it. Instead, it’s a line: the hero leaves for adventure and the hero returns home. The beginning of the story tells us who the hero is, then they are pushed into a journey by some kind of event, and they go on until they return home.
I personally love this type of plot, and it’s best for serials, adventure, and pretty much any story that explores a world. Sci-fi, fantasy, that sort of thing. The main thing that makes this kind of plot different than the rest is that it can have a number of other plots within it. Consider it an “umbrella plot”. This is meant for stories that keep on going and going and going and going.
Think of Shonen animes. Boom, there you go. Perfect example. Also, this type of story has most of its influence from The Odyssey and Journey to the West, which are both about a guy who left home, he was faced with multiple challenges to test his endurance and ability, and then he returns home (or at least gets what he desired) in the end with the happily ever after.
Just remember: it doesn’t have to be happily ever after. Do you have the balls to make your hero actually fail?
4. In Media Res
In media Res is latin for “In the middle of things”. Seeing that, it makes me wonder where the word “things” is from, because “in media” already sounds like “in middle”. But you know, if I really cared, I could just google it. So, there you go, plot twist: I don’t care enough to search it.
This plot style begins in the middle of the story. But don’t confuse that with “the middle of the action”. If the first thing you hear is a gunshot, you see a body fall, then the story continues from there, that is the middle of the action. All we are missing is the explanation of what happened before. With In Media Res, we get the middle of the story, the climax, first, and then it’s a bunch of flashbacks following that.
The tension comes from what the characters don’t know, and what you know. Something like 13 Reasons Why is a good example of such a plot point. At least, I think it is. Doesn’t that girl kill herself in the beginning or something? I don’t know, I don’t watch garbage, but the kids seem to like it. I’m just trying to stay hip and with the cool kids, okay?
This kind of plot is perfect for murder mysteries, romance, war stories, it’s kind of limited in ability. But fuck me, does it work out very well when done right. Movies like Reservoir Dogs and games like Max Payne used it and they wouldn’t be the same without using this kind of plot. Sometimes, for some stories, it almost requires this kind of plot, like in Reservoir Dogs.
This one I would easily say is a powerful double edged sword. If done wrong, it’s a horrible and confusing flop. But if done right, then you, my friend, have a story fit for the ages.
Do you know of another way to write a plot?
Are you struggling with your writing and would suck a dick to get some help?
Feel free to dial in to the Indie Suicide Help Line group and start asking and advising! The sooner we build a great writing community on minds, the sooner we can have minds actually show what our minds are made of.
My mind is mostly made of Asian titties.
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I want my advice to be free, but when I get a little pick-me-up here and there, my depression has less power. I work all day, I come home to a bunch of nagging women, the bathtub doesn’t work, the refrigerator smelled like garlic last week all the way up to the freezer. At least do it for a poor soul who’s stuck and wants to escape.