Good Reads for Writers — On Plotting

While scrolling through my blog cue today, I noticed two very good blogs that talk about why stories work and why they don’t. Both posts look at how to approach plotting, coming to similar, but slightly different conclusions. Each has me thinking about my current stories and how I approach them. Hopefully, you find them helpful as well.

Carrie Cuinn – “It takes three points to make a plot, or, how to write an interesting (complete) story.

“While a story can have any number of events, for it to be interesting and complete, it must have three event points on its plot. Less than that, and the story is either incomplete (a vignette or character study) or it usually fails to be interesting. Often, a plot with fewer than three events is both incomplete and boring.”

Lisa Cron on Writer Unboxed – “What Kindergarten Got (And Still Gets) Really, Really Wrong, Part One

“What I learned from working with the incredibly dedicated teachers, the curriculum, and the state mandated tests is that the “story is a bunch of big, eventful, unusual things that happen” idea is firmly planted in kindergarten and nourished from there on out — which is why it can be so damned hard to uproot. It’s at the foundation of how narrative writing is taught, and a major reason why so many kids (not to mention former kids) hate writing. And, for those of us former kids who love to write, it’s a major reason our manuscripts fail.”

Lisa Cron’s post also have me think about how the idea of plot/story being problems can also help writers in another area — creating dynamic characters. Often characters will be seen as too being too passive in stories. However, characters are likely to be less passive, if they have a problem that requires them to act in order to resolve it. So, thinking of story as problem provides a solution two two writer dilemmas — plot and character — with one stone. Very cool.

If you’re a writer, tell me what you’re writing these days? Did these articles help you?

If you’re a reader, what are you reading? Is it well plotted, or does it fall flat in the way these articles describe?

5 Responses to “Good Reads for Writers — On Plotting”

  • Ollie Says:

    Carrie’s article is a great reminder for any writer – and I particularly enjoyed the comments too; on how there’s so much variety to the notion of “story” and, as you said, we need to be constantly aware of this.

    The link to Writer Unboxed didn’t work! It’s currently telling me there’s a problem with the database – maybe it will return soon.

    As for your questions, I’m currently working on a short story loosely based on Andy Warhol, created some years ago through writing prompts on Livejournal. I’m going to go back to it and use Carrie’s 3 Events and see if there’s anything missing.

    I just finished “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It was conventionally plotted (starts in the present and then moves into the past of the two protagonists) but very satisfying.
    Ollie recently posted…On FanfictionMy Profile

  • Carrie Cuinn Says:

    Thank you for sharing my post 🙂 I’m glad it helped.
    Carrie Cuinn recently posted…What I’ve Been Reading: Rickert, Burstein, Sharma, ToblerMy Profile