Sunday, August 11, 2013

Stories Require a Plot

Vivian Zabel

   A story, whether a short story or a novel, requires a plot. A story without a plot is like bread without yeast -- flat and rather tasteless.

   Without a plot, we actually do not have a story but have a narrative, a scene, or a descriptive essay. 

    A plot is the causal sequence of events, the why for things that happen (that are shown as they happen). The plot of a story contains exposition, the information needed to understand story; complication, a catalyst that begins major conflict, a plot requires a conflict; climax, the turning point in the story, where the complication is resolved or solvency has been attempted; and a resolution, the events that bring the story to a close. By the way, do not write "The End" at the close of a story. If well written, readers knows the story closes.

    Therefore, how do we develop a good plot, adding leavening for a light tasty loaf/story? Stories int he past involved long paragraphs with detailed expository, telling readers what happened, detailed details that didn't add to the story. Today's readers don't accept major telling writing because it is boring. Today's readers want action and showing. Activity advances and enhances the plot, is required for a plot. The use of active voice and action verbs allows the characters to "show" the story. That does not mean stories must be written in first person, although doing so is acceptable, but does mean we write from the character's perspective. Plot requires conflict, complication, comprehension, coherence, climax, and conclusion

    Plot means a story is not flat, but that it moves and flows. Plot requires character movement and dialogue advance the story without boring the reader. A plot begins with a hook (activity which catches the readers attention) and continues with activity that shows the story and keeps the readers attention.

   The result is a tasty loaf of a story.



  1. Dear Vivian,
    This is great advice and you're right...a good plot makes a good story come to life.

    It seems that writing a story comes easier when you have the pitch/plot written first.

    Celebrate you and your many talents.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

  2. Vivian, I like your comparison of plot with yeast...a good story bubbles and seethes with action, conflict and purpose!

  3. Vivian, I like your comparison of plot with yeast...a good story bubbles and seethes with action, conflict and purpose!

  4. Cute analogy, Vivian, how writing a story is like making bread. You are so right, without plot, the bread falls, the story, fails. Thanks for a short, to-the-point post.

  5. Thanks for your comments. We hear so much about stories or novels being either character driven or plot driven, but it's not an "or," it's an "and." A good story takes a strong dose of both working together.

  6. Vivian, great analogy. You're so right that it takes both character and plot to create a 'good' story. One without the other, just wouldn't cut it.

  7. Vivian, great post. Wherever we start from, by the time we're finished we need both a great plot and interesting characters.

  8. This is just part of a presentation I'm preparing for a workshop in October.