Wednesday, November 09, 2005

How not to develope a plot for your next novel

... or perhaps it's how to develop a bad plot ... or how to emulate those authors that make millions writing stories with weak plots ...

It's entitled The Well-Tempered Plot Device, by Nick Lowe. It's a humourously written critical opinion of trashy but popular books, but a very good read for aspiring authors. I was pointed to it by David Langford's blog in the e-zine, Infinate Matrix an online Science Fiction mag.

I'd differ from the examples Nick Low brings out in saying that often, a plot device is a good thing, if used in moderation, and that authors like Tolkien and George Lucas use them well. The Ring, in Lord of the Rings, is a plot device, or The Force, in Star Wars. Other examples he uses are red or green Kryptonite, from D.C. Comix' Superman. Poor plotting would be where the author uses it like a cruch. Nick Low refers to powerful objects like the Ring of Power, as "plot vouchers". In a tongue in cheak manner, he says:
I do recommend the use of plot vouchers to your attention if you're at all interested in writing multi-volume epics of quest and adventure, because they're terrifically easy to use and the readers never complain. You can issue your hero with a handy talisman of unspecified powers at the beginning of volume one, and have him conveniently remember it at various points over the succeeding volumes when he finds himself surrounded by slavering troglodytes or whatever, with no obligation to explain it until the series proves unsuccessful enough to require winding up and the loose ends tying.
He brings out a few examples where successful authors have gone over the top in cashing in plot vouchers.

Anyway, click on the above for a good read...

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