> Excerpt from chapter "What Is Plot?"
The Border of ActualityWhat does this tell us? Plot is simple--it is the things you decide matter that create consequences within your story. Jim punches Tom, Tom declares war on Jimland. Who is the prime mover? You are.
Plot is the things characters do, feel, think, or say, that makes a difference to what comes afterward.
If you once thought about dying your hair pink but never acted on the thought, that tells something about your psychology, but it's not a potential story plot. If you really went ahead and did it, that not only tells about your psychology but creates repercussions, like a stone tossed in a pond. That might become the basis for a story like Fitzgerald's "Bernice Bobs Her Hair."
Thought or emotion crosses the line into plot when it becomes actions and causes reactions. Until then, attitudes, however interesting in themselves, are just potential, just cloudy possibilities. They're static. They're not going anywhere. Nothing comes of them.
No thought, in and of itself, is plot. No action, however dramatic, is plot if the story would have been about the same if it hadn't happened at all. Any action, however seemingly trivial, can be vital and memorable if it has significant consequences and changes the story's outcome.
Plotting is a way of looking at things. It's a way of deciding what's important and then showing it to be important through the way you construct and connect the major events of your story. It's the way you show things mattering. <
(bolded & italicized emphasis mine)
If you're not taking control of your plot, telling things to be in their proper place, making the decisions that need to be made, then you are adrift in the Sea of Creativity. You can have all the ideas in the world, but if you can't forge them into a plot, you'll never be able to make something useful out of them.
A plot, and a story, can be made of any idea--if the consequences can be identified. Consequences breed conflict, and conflict is at the heart of any decent plot.
What is a plot? When thought or emotion becomes actions and causes reactions.
How do we create plot? Deciding what's important and using it to construct and connect the major events in our story.
It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that. Go make some decisions.
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