Article -- Plot and Goals

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Registered: 03-24-2003
Article -- Plot and Goals
8
Mon, 11-20-2006 - 1:49pm

I found this article in my stack the other day. It's an excellent discussion of the relationship between goals and plot. Check it out, and let's talk about it.


http://www.writersstore.com/article.php?articles_id=733

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Registered: 06-28-2000
Mon, 11-20-2006 - 4:56pm

Thanks, Eleyne!

I used to get their newsletters but at whatever point, I stopped getting them. Never looked into why. I signed up to receive them again.

Okay, that said, this is a great article and I wrote down some questions that I should be asking as I get Book One keyed into Word. I've got my two MC long-term goals thumb-tacked to my wall here. Well, 'one' anyway. I THINK I know the other one's... but I need to get through Part One to see if I am remembering everything correctly.

I will also look into a way of "tracking" my short-term goals. I liken that to storyboarding.

Blessings,

Laura

HeartSong20003@yahoo.com
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." ~ Crowfoot

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Registered: 03-24-2003
Tue, 11-21-2006 - 6:19pm

You know, I nay not be subscribed here anymore either.

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Registered: 03-24-2003
Wed, 11-22-2006 - 12:55pm

My random thoughts on this article.


I like how a character’s goals can change even right away.

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Registered: 12-05-2003
Sat, 11-25-2006 - 1:32pm

I recently (early this morning at 3 am) a book by Sarah Monette - "Melusine". I enjoyed it immensely, but from here on is the email I sent to Ms Monette) -

But I have some observations.

I have nothing to tell you of dialog, or plot, or which words to use when - those were lovely, engaging, and very well done.

But the meta-story, on that I have some comments.

Maybe you have heard all I have to say before, but I say it to you as a way of expressing my appreciation. I read my share of bad books - not so many, they are hard to finish - and plenty of mediocre ones, but not so many really good ones, and damn few great ones. Melusine is really good. What separates Melusine from great is meta-story stuff.

1) At various points throughout the story, you wave your omnipotent hands and the work is done. More so in the end. And yet in other parts, you go into painstaking detail, detail that makes the results vivid, and believable. At the end, when you heal Felix and then Mildmay, you not only don't go not into detail about how it is accomplished, but detail about WHY they were so bedeviled is also left out. What did Mildmay do to his leg in the surf? Why were the healers unable to heal Felix until Mildmay was assaulted by wizardry in Troia, yet after they had half the picture, and the wrong half, suddenly they are able? What was wrong with Mildmay that his leg would not heal? What did the healers do to remove the curse? All these questions need answers within THIS story, not another one. A story that you want to continue needs possibilities to continue, but it also needs resolution in each of it's pieces. Think of it as sorties, battles, campaigns and wars - each piece must have a beginning and an end, and you are short ends - and consequently, so am I. Which leads to my next global observation.

2) Story arcs - you have so many stories - Malkar, Virtu/Cabaline magic, Methony, Gideon, Stephen - and Malador and the Tibernians - Mavortian, Ginerva and her betrayal - how DID she escape the Dogs? - and then there are Felix and Mildmay themselves. Just how many story arcs did you resolve, even in the most temporary manner? Barely even Felix and Mildmay, and only then to the extent they made it to Troia and may be healed. In other words, not even them. Because the journey to be healed of whatever is not the journey they set out on at the beginning of the story, and calling themselves brothers at the end doesn't make it so - and that IS the journey they set on. You said of Mildmay being a story hound. So am I, only I say story vampire. I believe Mildmay spoke for you in the way that John Irving said "listen to the author, she will tell you what you need to know" (to paraphrase), and I did and so I DO know that you love stories. Well, stories resolve - always. And when they don't appear to resolve, it's because we missed the point. Sometimes the story we don't get right away is about us. :)

I loved the first chapters (I loved all the chapters) even though I was majorly uncomfortable throughout them, not because they weren't well done, they WERE, but because you dealt so forthrightly with the homosexual and unconsensual sex. I also felt that you were dipping your pen into deep waters, and I was anxious to see what you would bring to the surface. In many ways you delighted me with your world, but somewhere shortly after Ginerva, you retreated from that boldness. The story didn't suffer for it, because you were well into the meat of the Mildmay story (which is the stronger story from then on).

The story arcs matter. Even if they are to continue on into other stories, they must resolve, however fleetingly, in this one. You got to dance with the guy what brung ya, and you danced no last dance with Gideon, Mavortian and Malkar.

I look forward to reading Virtu. I won't subject you to my observations without you don't ask. :)

Thanks for believing in your story, and for sharing it. It is a really good story. I enjoyed it immensely.

Jake

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Registered: 12-12-2003
Mon, 11-27-2006 - 1:07pm

I often wonder if my protagonists' goals are strong enough.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Tue, 11-28-2006 - 8:40am

Interesting commentary on the novel, Jake. You brought up a number of pertinent points relative to the goals expressed at the beginning of the book, and how the author failed to follow through with them, either as stated or through an obvious change of goal on the part of the characters themselves. Your analogy to battles, wars, etc. made your thoughts more concrete, too.


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Registered: 03-24-2003
Tue, 11-28-2006 - 9:29am

Goal – something the protag wants more than anything, will do just about anything to obtain, and not obtaining the desired object could conceivably be disastrous to the character. Add into the equation the fact that he/she will be required to violate one of his/her strongest ethics, and you have the potential for strong conflict, too. ;-)


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Registered: 12-05-2003
Tue, 11-28-2006 - 10:16am

I was never really gone, Eleyne, just away. I felt compelled to involve myself in the elections, and I had little energy or curiosity for anything else. Now that they are over, for now, I find my energies turning in different directions. Old directions - here, for example.

Did the author disappoint me? She must have. But not so much I didn't buy her next book. :) Looking at it another way, no, she didn't disappoint. I truly enjoyed her story, way less than perfect as it is. Her strengths as a writer made up for a lot. I guess that is why I wrote her at all - her strengths are so obvious, I think she gives short shrift to the rest, but without the rest, she will just be another wannabe. I think she is that good that if works hard on the story things, not just the ideas and the writing itself, then should could break through to the top rank. Clearly, somebody besides me thinks the same as her first two books, Melusine and The Virtu were both published hardback. That's a reall investment by a publisher.

Jake

PS - she hasn't responded to my email. Maybe I was too blunt? LOL!