Posts from the ‘Plot’ Category

  • What Is Plot?

    February 16th, 2016 | Plot | journalpulp | 3 Comments

    Literarily, the meaning of the word plot comes from the Old-French word: complot — which means to conspire. But what actually is plot? Plot is the method by which you present your story. Plot is a vehicle. Plot is a purposeful sequence of events — and in a well-plotted story, those events all connect logically […]

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  • Tell Don’t Show — In Which We Endeavor To Demonstrate That Narration Has Its Place

    Tell Don’t Show — In Which We Endeavor To Demonstrate That Narration Has Its Place

    September 27th, 2012 | Storytelling | journalpulp | No Comments

    He was the only child of middle-aged parents, a miner-turned-truck-driver named Neil and Neil’s wife Angela, a half Cherokee lady of rare beauty whom Joel loved with all his heart. He grew up silent, a silent child, pale and skinny but healthy. He brought coal from the shed to the stoker. He took out clinkers. […]

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  • What Plot Is And What Plot Is Not

    What Plot Is And What Plot Is Not

    March 14th, 2012 | Plot | journalpulp | 4 Comments

    Plot is not memoir. Plot is not diary. Plot is not journal. Plot is not history. Plot is not erotica. Plot is not dialogue. Plot is not essay. Plot is not philosophy. Plot is not chronicle. Plot is not action alone. Plot is something very specific: it is the method by which you present your […]

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  • Misdirection And Surprise

    Misdirection And Surprise

    February 23rd, 2012 | Plot, Suspense | journalpulp | No Comments

    Seven o’clock in the evening. A hot and moth-populated mountain night. Gasteneau sat alone in a rundown motel on the outskirts of town, a cheap room that he’d rented for this reason, because it was cheap, and because he could have it by the day or by the week, and because it was spacious and […]

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  • Five Ways To Generate Suspense

    Five Ways To Generate Suspense

    February 22nd, 2012 | Plot, Suspense | journalpulp | 2 Comments

    Suspense, which isn’t a genre but a specific manifestation of plot, is when you can’t put the book down because you must learn what happens next. Suspense is when you’re champing at the bit. Here are five ways to keep readers in suspense: 5. Arrange your events in such a way that readers will wonder […]

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  • Pacing, Plot, Purposeful Action, And Human Values

    Pacing, Plot, Purposeful Action, And Human Values

    February 16th, 2012 | Pacing, Plot | journalpulp | 14 Comments

    Life is an unceasing sequence of single actions, said Ludwig von Mises. And so, in many ways, is plot. But, unlike life, plot is selective — and what that means, among other things, is that the author is the selector. The author chooses the actions his characters undertake. This, incidentally, is one of the primary […]

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  • David Lynch Or Quentin Tarantino?

    David Lynch Or Quentin Tarantino?

    October 14th, 2011 | Movies, Plot, Storytelling, Theme | journalpulp | 9 Comments

    A reader writes: Dear Ray Harvey: Well, it took me five months but I finally finished reading More and More unto the Perfect Day and I wish to compliment you! Though it is a challenging and not easy read, it is rewarding and gives much food for thought to say the least. Your story reminded […]

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  • Writing Takes Place Inside The Head

    Writing Takes Place Inside The Head

    September 24th, 2011 | How to write a novel, Plotting | journalpulp | 5 Comments

    Humans spend the majority of their lives inside their own heads, to paraphrase John Milton. One of the primary reasons — and it’s a perfectly legitimate reason — that people give for not finishing a book or a writing project is that they don’t have the time to write. The good news is that at […]

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  • Plot and Theme: A Complicated Relationship

    Plot and Theme: A Complicated Relationship

    September 6th, 2011 | Plot, Storytelling, The Situation, Theme, Universality | journalpulp | No Comments

    The Situation is the nucleus of your story: it contains the kernel of your conflict from which the rest of your storyline will grow. A real story cannot exist without some sort of conflict. If you have a specific message that you wish to get across (e.g. the destructiveness of superstition), it is that message […]

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  • How To Begin Your Story

    How To Begin Your Story

    August 17th, 2011 | Beginnings, Characterization, Plot | journalpulp | 3 Comments

    Establish your setting early on. Give us The When, The Where, The Weather — the overall tone. Is your story happy, soft, somber? John Steinbeck does this so well in the beautiful opening of Of Mice and Men: A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hillside bank and […]

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  • Climax: Bringing Together The Essential Components Of A Novel

    Climax: Bringing Together The Essential Components Of A Novel

    August 11th, 2011 | Characterization, Climax, Plot, Storytelling, Style | journalpulp | 2 Comments

    A good novel consists of four primary components, all of which interact in an almost symbiotic way. Those elements are plot, character, theme, and style. (The recapitulation of theme-and-plot combined is what I call The Situation.) Of those four components, the first three are primarily concerned with subject-matter, and the last — style, which is […]

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  • The Situation

    The Situation

    August 5th, 2011 | Plot, Storytelling, Suspense, The Situation | journalpulp | 7 Comments

    The best stories are those that can be summed up in one sentence. Which is to say, a solid story hinges upon its Situation. The Situation is not the whole story but the essence of that story’s conflict, which will in turn shape the events of your plot. Here is an example of a situation: […]

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  • Characterization (Part 4)

    Characterization (Part 4)

    July 29th, 2011 | Characterization, Plot | journalpulp | No Comments

    In the previous post, I said that to create convincing characters, the writer must first understand what motivates the people she or he is creating. This means that the writer must understand what moves the actions of his or her characters. The term “actions” in this context refers to plot — though it bears repeating […]

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  • Characterization (Part 3)

    Characterization (Part 3)

    July 27th, 2011 | Characterization, Literature, Plot, Storytelling, Style, Theme | journalpulp | 3 Comments

    Characterization is a presentation of the personality of the people who populate a story. Characterization is primarily a depiction of motivation and motive. The reader must understand what makes the characters act in the way that those characters do. It’s been said that one of the truest tests of good literature is when you can […]

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  • Characterization (Part 1)

    Characterization (Part 1)

    July 22nd, 2011 | Characterization, Literature, Storytelling | journalpulp | 1 Comment

    If plot is the skeleton — that vital framework upon which the rest of the body is built — then characters are the soul. Characters are the reason we ultimately love or hate a story. “I’m sick to death of the inarticulate hero,” said John Fowles. “To hell with the inarticulate.” Characterization is in essence […]

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