Steal this plot!!

Thanks for bearing with me while I've been on a non-voluntary hiatus.  Now, back to work!

It's pretty easy to get the "plot" confused with what your characters are trying to do, and where they should be going by the time they meet what's-his-nose in chapter 5.  It helps sometimes to think about plot at a higher level.

Take the plot for example, where a guy moves into an area and finds that the people there are being bullied by a tyrannical leader. He's shaking them down for money, abusing them physically, insulting them constantly.  The new guy takes exception to this, after a couple of run-ins with this guy, and he gets fed up. Having a relationship starting to build with a local beauty just furthers his drive for justice.   So the stranger calls the bully into a trap and kills him and his henchmen in a triumphant, climactic battle.

You might have been thinking, 'ah, this is a Western'.  It might have been. It could also be high fantasy, SciFi, modern contemporary fiction, or a period historical piece.  I was thinking of the movie "Unforgiven".  The plot is not defined by setting or characters. The setting and characters serve the plot.

The plot works in any genre be cause it is generic to humanity.  Any unjust leader who rises to this kind of abusive leadership is just begging for a fight, right? 

So if you don't like this plot, steal a different one. Really, they've all been done before… more or less.

Take a story that really moves you for whatever reason. Strip away all of the character and setting information.  Summarize the main points of what the conflict is and how it is resolved.  Then, see how you can make that your own by bringing it into your own world, with your voice and your characters.  Then add some twists – like maybe some slaves that need to be released. (Does that bring the Mask of Zorro or the Temple of Doom to mind?) Or a big political problem if the hero wins. Or maybe that lovely gal won't love him if he succeeds – does he choose love over justice? (That's a question about the character, not the plot!)

If you write it well, and remake it well enough in your own words, nobody is going to quibble about where you got the plot from.

One thought on “Steal this plot!!

  1. I remember doing this in school – there’s only 7 plots in the world:-
    Tragedy, Comedy, Overcoming the Monster, Making a Journey, Completing a Quest, Rags to Riches and Being Reborn.
    Every single story will fit into one or more of those plots.

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