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Master Plots

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  • rowena cherry
    Everyone has a leaning tower of To Be Read books, right? I certainly have. Right now, I have five dangerous books about men who think it is jolly good sport
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 29, 2006
      Everyone has a leaning tower of To Be Read books, right?

      I certainly have. Right now, I have five dangerous books about men
      who think it is jolly good sport to lunge at each other with cold
      steel; a couple of books telling me how I can write faster... my
      problem is, I need to read faster!

      Open on my desk (as opposed to looking like a jammed paper shredder
      owing to all the pages I've marked with thin strips of paper) is
      Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias, and it's quite fascinating.

      Mr Tobias divides all plots into two sorts, just like ancient Greek
      plays: Tragedy or Comedy, plays of the body or plays of the mind.

      Tragedies are plot driven, action packed, not necessarily tragic.
      Comedies aren't necessarily funny, but they are more
      thought-provoking, and tend to deal with characters' moral dilemmas.

      Interestingly, Mr Tobias points out, Dante's vision of hell is divided
      into two, too. (Forget all the rings.) Those who committed sins of
      the body are not punished nearly as severely as those who committed
      sins of the mind, like fraud.

      Not to be political about current events and recent sentences for
      various offenses, but similar thinking may be at work today in the
      justice system. I digress.

      Apparently--and I find this an immense relief--books which hinge on
      character/mind/ideas/comedy/fraud or deception of some sort are
      supposed to take longer to write!

      A book that is action driven can be outlined and rough drafted,
      leaving gaps for "someone has sex here" or "something explodes here"
      which can be filled in later. But, a book about a character's
      struggles to save the world/a political system/a species/ a tree
      cannot be written until the author knows a great deal about the character.

      Well... they can, but a pantzer has to do a lot of rewriting, and
      editing. I had a bit of a break-through this week. My horoscope said
      <<Your on-point suggestions for finishing a work-related project earn
      a nod from an authority figure...>>

      I like to implement my horoscope, if I can. My editor doesn't do
      email on Fridays, so I had to look around for some other authority
      figure. I decided to google Coroners. They come under dot-gov.
      Authority, you see.

      I picked up the phone, made an international call, and was fortunate
      enough to be graciously granted permission to send an email asking all
      sorts of questions about death, mortal decay and DNA.

      My next hero might think of himself as a masculine Cinderella. That
      doesn't make him Beta, just because he gets to do all the family's
      dirty work. I suppose, if his task is to keep the family skeletons in
      the proverbial closet, he needs to know what "the right thing to do"
      is, even if doing the "wrong thing" is more convenient.

      So, I'm diving back into research, and feeling less guilty that I
      didn't pound out an outline a month ago.

      Next time I write, it'll be to tell you the newsletter is out.

      Best wishes,
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