Diversity in Plot and Structure
There is an extremely popular author with dozens of bestselling books that I had to take a break from reading. Why? Because, for all her professional knowledge about her field and her engaging style of writing, the books started all looking the same. Same plot structure, same style, same type of ending. And the who-dun-it didn’t seem to live up to the hype leading up to the resolution.
It’s hard to mess with a formula that makes you a millionaire. Many authors stick with the ‘do what sells’ method. Why take risks with a proven thing? Isn’t this what you were aiming for when you started? Really, wasn’t it? Be honest.
Or, in the beginning, were you engrossed with finding your voice, getting the words down to make a statement, or to just see if you could? If the book gods didn’t bless you with riches the first time, then you learned and diversified (gave variety to) your writing.
Plot and Structure. Many of us are devote followers of the three-act structure, the public has come to expect it in plot-driven novels and screenplays. It is proven and predictable but allows for the inclusion of countless ways to get to the 3-4 high points.
Literary fiction novels deal more with the characters and their development than the plot. When I first started I found literary novels boring. Their stories seemed to meander along without direction. I am re-evaluating my impression as I grow as a writer. Where plot-driven works sell, literary novels become classics. That is a generalization, of course, but if you can put both together. Wow!
Just as a line of dialogue may be cliché, so may a plot. But remember, the plot is just one player. The repetitive Ta-dum, Ta-dum, Ta-dum, Ta-da of the drum must be filled out with other members of the orchestra in order to create a symphony.
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The same basic plot: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back may be fleshed out in countless ways. What if….Boy meets girl, boy meets another girl, girls meet each other, boy loses both girls, girls find love with each other. Or what if the Happily Ever After is that each finds that life doesn’t always include being linked with another person.
The publishers and agents are always screaming for ‘something different’. So why not give it a shot. A diverse and inclusive plot structure gives the writer scores of material to work with.