Plot who creates it? It’s not the author.

According to Dictionary.com the definition of a plot is: The plan, scheme, or main story of a literary or dramatic work, as a play, novel, or short story.

Or according to wikipedia: Plot is a narrative (and, traditionally, literary) term defined as the events that make up a story, particularly: as they relate to one another in a pattern or in a sequence; as they relate to each other through cause and effect; how the reader views the story; or simply by coincidence.

Okay, sounds legit but who creates it?

Why are you looking at me like that? This is a valid question.

Who or what creates the plot?

If your answer is the author, you are correct and incorrect. Before I share my opinion on the matter, please remember that all discussions on writing are theoretical. What works for me may not work for you but the more you expose yourself to different perspectives the better your writing can be.

It is in my opinion that the author is not the creator of the plot but rather the sculptor. When I wrote the 1st Edition of The Silver Ninja and the second book, I took complete control of the plot. I didn’t care what the character’s motivation was or the logic between scenes. This event needed to happen no matter what.

Well, we all know how that went . . .

My new approach has no preconceived plot. All I know -as the author- is how the story is supposed to end. I am writing this story to hit this ending. In fact, if you break down a story chapter by chapter, scene by scene, all of them are writing to a specific end. At the end of this scene, I want their relationship to be destroyed. At the end of this chapter I want the character to feel depressed. At the end of this story I want redemption to be found.

In order to get to those endings, those characters must want those endings. Your job is to create their back stories, mold their personalities, and then create situations that will align their goals with your own. Essentially, point your characters in the right direction, wind them up, and pray that they cross to the other side.

Your characters may turn off and may need to be rewound but the goal is to get them to your ending. They will come to life and start making their own decisions thus creating the plot. The author must make sure that these characters stay on course but shouldn’t be afraid to let the characters explore and create their own emergent narrative.

It is through granting these characters freedom that you can create something memorable.

The author is the match that lights the fuse. The characters will carry the spark to the bomb.

By using this approach you can also reduce the chances of creating situations that are forced and not natural to the plot.

E.G. Protagonist has been solving unsolvable mysteries yet never picked up on the obvious clues that his/her partner was the culprit.

Or the reverse. Protagonist mysteriously has an epiphany that let’s him/her figure out who the culprit is for no reason whatsoever. “It was just a hunch.”

Villain hated his/her father but decided to carry out his/her father’s plans anyway. (Wasn’t forced by the father or the plot but forced by the author.)

Outlines are great ways to layout your story but don’t be too rigid with them. Be flexible with your story so that it can grow organically.

If you want a perfect example of flexibility. Look up the IMDB trivia of Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad on IMDB

This started off with a solid outline. The original intention was to kill off Jesse Pinkman early in the season and to only have the Gus character for a few episodes.

Obviously the ideas from the original outline never happened.

Jesse ended up testing so well with audiences that they decided to keep him for the entire run of the show. Then the actor who played Gus didn’t want to be on the show unless he was going to be in it for several seasons instead of just a few episodes.

I can’t imagine what the show would have been like without Jesse or Gus. If the writers didn’t have that flexibility to adjust their outline and plot, I don’t think Breaking Bad would have been as successful as it was even though the acting was great.

There’s something to be said about letting your characters (or in Breaking Bad’s case, actors) the ability to dictate the plot. If you let them follow their curiosity, let them seek closure for their desires and throw in some conflict along the way. How could you not have a great plot AND great characters?

In my current re-write of The Silver Ninja. Cindy and her husband Jonas want things that I wouldn’t have let them explore by sticking to my outline. In fact, the two of them got into a huge fight that I had never planned for and now I’m having to write around those events.

Obviously, you can’t let the characters run amok and veer off into side plots that have nothing to do with your story or theme. Sometimes a character does have to die in order for another event to happen but the cause of that event needs to logically and naturally lead to that outcome.

The less people notice the author’s hand the better your novel.

This technique won’t apply to all books and all genres but it’s definitely something to consider for your writing project. Good luck!

Wilmar Luna

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