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TIPS FOR YOUNG WRITERS: PLOT DEVELOPMENT!
by: Max Burbank

A plot is a causal sequence of events, the "why" for the things that happen in the story. The plot draws the reader into the character's lives and helps the reader understand the choices that the characters make. Sure, we know the debonair young spy with a bionic arm and the gorgeous red headed nuclear scientist with a ferocious and inventive appetite for rough sex are going to go sheet spelunking, but if we don't know what leads up to it, if indeed we cut straight to that sheet spelunking and that's all there is, that's just porn. And that's a different lesson.

THE FOUR PLOT CHUNKS

Western narrative tradition demands that every plot contain four essential building blocks or 'chunks', if you will. Exposition, Complication, Climax and Resolution. Why call them 'chunks' and not simply 'building blocks'? Simple. I am paid by the word. Lets take our 'chunks' one at a time, shall we? For pretty much the same reason.

EXPOSITION

Good exposition is like a scientist. The suit is because this scientist is a whack job.

Exposition is the information needed to understand the story. How will our reader know that our gorgeous red headed nuclear scientist has a ferocious and inventive appetite for rough sex? Simply because she is 'stacked'? No! Firstly, because her stackedness is descriptive not expository and also so what? What is it with you and breast size anyway?

Now if we write: "I see you've noticed my large breasts," said the gorgeous red headed nuclear scientist, running a finger suggestively around the rim of her Appletini. "I had them medically enlarged to enhance my sexcapades. Inventive, no? And by the way, I like my sexcapades… rough."

Suddenly, a simple description of boob size becomes… EXPOSITION!

COMPLICATION

The complication in a story is like a roadblock. Just make sure the soldiers at your complication aren't angry, bitter and all hopped up on stay-awake pills, or they might panic and kill everyone in your car.

"Say," the debonair spy said, picking the cherry out of his Manhattan with the metallic fingers at the end of his bionic arm. "Wanna blow this upholstered Men's room and go have sex somewhere?" Which is exactly what they—

Wait a second there, buddy boy! Sure, everybody wants to get straight to the Motel hijinks (see 'sheet spelunking')! But if you give people what they want right away, they'll never value it! That's why on the rare occasions you go home from a night of shameful date prospecting with someone, when you wake up the next morning, you're revolted. Now I know I've used a sex metaphor to explain a sexual plot device in a sex story, but come on, would you even be listening otherwise?

Something has to get in the way of our hero getting his way! That's the complication! See how easy it is to remember? The complication complicates the story! Now, what's going to get in the way of our debonair spy Gittin' his Black Ops on (see Motel Hijinks)? Okay, I brainstormed and what I came up with was an evil robot eagle with a lisp.

"Not tho fatht, Mithter Thpy!" the evil robot eagle lithped, hoithting the gorgeouth red headed nuclear thientitht towardth the thieling in one glithening talon.

Actually, you don't really need to have the narrator lisp. In fact, it's probably inadvisable. Plus it drives your spell-check whacky. My monitor is so red and green right now I'm LOOKING FOR PRESENTS!... under the tree. 'Cause red and green are Christmas colors. In addition to being the colors of the wavy lines underneath words and phrases thought to be errors of grammar or spelling by the particular... word processing program... I'm using.

CLIMAX

There are no images associated with this term that do not have strong Freudian implications.

I know what you're thinking and it's not just wrong, it's naughty. The climax isn't a climax, which is to say it should be, but not that kind. If there's a lot of screaming and yelling and your parents burst into the room and later you have to go to a special summer camp, it's the wrong kind of climax. Or maybe that's just me. In literature, on the other hand, the climax is the turning point in the story that occurs when characters resolve the complication.

"What that evil robot eagle didn't know," said the debonair spy, tossing the now not power producing battery pack into the air and catching it in the hand on his bionic arm, "Is that I knew where his battery pack was."

RESOLUTION

This picture is here because you have the attention span of a small child.

Now that we have seen the Debonair Spy and the Gorgeous Red Headed Nuclear Scientist meet up in a bar, (you did get it was a bar, right, and not actually a men's bathroom with upholstered toilets? 'Cause there's no such thing as one of those.) Now that we have learned of our Scientist's feisty ways regarding Wigwam Shenanigans (see 'Gittin' Black Ops on), now that we have encountered our complicated complication (and everybody knows how complicated robots are) and bested it, we can have our resolution! YES! Now, finally, at last, we have reached the long awaited moment when our characters can attend the Genital Rodeo (See 'Wigwam Shenanigans')!

"Why don't you take a picture of my boobs?" The Gorgeous Red Headed Nuclear Scientist husked languidly, "They'll last longer."

"Gladly," the debonair spy with the bionic arm said, the fingers on the hand of his bionic arm turning off the motel room light.

Oh, don't be sore! Imagine it yourself, I don't get paid enough to do it for you. (By the way, this is a factually accurate statement. Most prostitutes, even cheap massage parlor girls, make more money than aspiring writers) And besides, I already got you to read the whole thing and left you wanting more. So when the sequel comes out you'll rush to the local 'Borders' to see if I eventually describe what it's like to have sexual intercourse (see 'Genital Rodeo')!

That's what a good plot does. Keeps the reader turnin' them pages like one of Pavlov's dog's hearing a bell ring and automatically turning the pages of a book it's reading. And now you know everything you need to know to write good plots of your own. So screw off. Who needs you, anyway?


If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:


Tips For Young Writers: Uh-oh! Writer's Block!



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