Tuesday, April 20, 2010


A plot is an elaborate schematic of events, leading to a conclusion that in infused with some resident emotion such as comfort, satisfaction, disappointment, redemption, dread, revenge achieved, justice done, justice waiting to be done. There are others, of course, including permutations just as in undergraduate courses there are the comparative studies disciplines and the compare-and-contrast essay questions on examinations. All these results produce one form of emotion or another in a degree sufficient to satisfy the reader who has read clear through to the end.

Plotted stories often cause characters to behave in ways that baffle their creators, the bafflement coming from the simple fact that the creator has lost touch with the simple causes why characters really do what they do or do not do what they ought and don't.

Many of us slide into plot-driven stories in our waking, non-writing lives, a term advisedly used in the plural because we so often each of us lead more than one life.

It is no easy thing, going about in a story, wanting something desperately to the point where we have been made a bit tetched in the head over it, wanting something or someone or some condition beyond what our reason tells us it is good to want a something or someone, or some condition. Part of the difficulty comes from the need to focus on being obsessive and at the same time compulsive/ The more forces in real life challenge and frustrate us, the more frustrating our goal or desire becomes, compounding frustration and irritation. We go about wearing our game face all the time, in waking hours, in sleep, and in the dreamless sleep where we are not permitted to see the causes, effects, and consequences.

The kid who is asked what he or she wants and who snaps in retort Nothing, or I don't know! has already been worked over by the system to the point of not daring to remain in touch with the desired goal, which essentially means not having any hope at all. The kid who is still full of hope is in danger of being mocked by chums or elders for such overt optimism. You'll see what your optimism will get you.

Well, here you are, whacking through the weeds of middle age, still optimistic that every story you begin will at some point be brought to a finish, that it will sooner or later find a home wherein it will be published, and from there a modest readership who will in some way or another be affected by it. You can't realistically ask for more than that, but you do; you don't so much want the story to change the world as you want it to change you. You have no tangible idea what you want to be changed, perhaps your temper, although without that you might become too serious and not be able to topple with laughter and ridicule the things that frustrate and enrage you.

You might somewhere harbor notions of changing how others see you, which presents the danger of you wanting to manipulate the outcomes with real persons as opposed to characters. This leaves you the heel of the loaf, metaphor for changing the way you see yourself. would you really want to do that, just as we were getting on so well?

You are left a character in life, following no scripted outcome. The horse you ride is no fine Arab, scarcely even a working quarter-horse. Ah, a hobby horse. Grown man riding the hobby horse of his urgent wish to tell stories. Not, perhaps, the classiest horse in the barn, but one that suits you. You'll take it. Giddyap.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Shelly- thanks for the inspiration today: