Monday, December 27, 2010

After Yule

On Christmas we have

Pudding that needs editing


Character (me) who needs rounding out


Perfect combination

But after boxing day we have

Over edited pudding


Far too rounded character


The New Years resolution

I've learned to be careful with resolutions. "This year I will get my book published" is a bad resolution. So are "This year I will lose weight", or "This year I will get a better job".

Good resolutions look more like "This year I will mail out a hundred queries", "This year I will work out three times a week" or "This year I will turn in a job application every day".

There are too many things in the publishing world, your metabolism and the job market that you will have no controll over and if you fail to meet your goals because of those obsticles you will feel like you haven't done what you set out to do even though you have. A new year is the perfect time to rethink goals and set up challenges but be careful about what you promise yourself. Focus your resolution on your own actions not the end results.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Stop Poetry


Desecrate my temple with a candle
With flames that burn beyond the final sleep
Incense drowned in a bequeathed ritual
Lit by men long dead for us to keep
Prepare me for my burial with gifts
As scalded wax drips down sacred pillars
Teach me the truths that ceremony sifts
And learn the innocence hidden by scars
Hear cries of children never born as kings
And pay homage to their everlasting sire
Screams of purity torn from time's sweltering
Defile my memory for every missing fire
Defy the spark dimmed by the fall of breath
As vibrancy passes through strains of birth

To read the rest of the poetry for One Shot Wendsday or include your own click the link.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Logical Plotting, Part Two: Plot Fallacies

Last week I compared plot structure to argument structure in order to break it down into workable components but many of the fallacies that are easy to make in arguments are also easy to make in plots.

Arguments and plots are different in that appeals to emotion are not only OK but encouraged. If the reader feels no empathy for the heroes and loathing for the villains (or a delicious confusing combination of the two for both the heroes and villains) you are in big trouble. However, you can also run into trouble when you rely only on emotion and forget to make anything actually happen.

Appealing to pity –The sob story

Hallmark movies fall into this category rather often. A little girl who sends a father's day card to heaven via balloon is touching but it isn't a story unless it leads to something else or has been led up to in a way that makes it significant to the particular little girl in a particular way. It needs to have a connection to other events in order to be a story.

Appealing to fear --The horror flick

Horror flicks can be entertaining but a book requires more investment from the reader than a movie does from a viewer. they deserve more than teenagers running away from monsters and serial killers. Where is this teenager running to? Where are they running from? Why does one monster scare them more than another? Where will all this running lead them? What is the significance?

You might have noticed that there are two words I use a lot when I talk about plot. Significance and leading. A story takes the reader through a series of events to a climax. That is why I get bored with TV dramas after a few episodes. They don't go anywhere. If you have the concept of events leading to a climax in mind you probably won't get caught up in many fallacies but here are a few more examples.

Circular Plot

When the events leading up to the climax are the same as the climax.

Hero wins a race (event) Hero wins another race (climax)

This can actually work given the right circumstances but it's still worth watching out for. If you do it do it on purpose.

Pirates are stranded on a raft with treasure (event) pirates are rescued and scheme and murder on their way to shore in order to keep their treasure (event) pirates are again stranded on a raft with their treasure (climax)

False Cause

This occurs when the climax and events preceding it are not actually connected.

Girl thinks her fiance has died in the war and gets involved with his best friend (event) The Japanese attack America (climax)

When this happens the reader can't be biting their fingernails wondering what the characters are going to do because it won't actually affect the ending.

Disjointed Plot (Ignoratio Elenchii)

When the writer changes what the story is about last minute without leaving hints for the reader along the way.

Alice wanders through the backwards world on the other side of the looking glass (event) And it was a dream after all (climax)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Logical Plotting, Part One: Structure

While studying for finals this week I ran across this list in my logic notes:

Simple Plot
Linked Plot
Convergent Plot
Divergent Plot
Serial Plot
Unstated Plot

I probably don’t need to clarify that my logic professor wasn’t talking about plot structure when I jotted that down but, well she wasn’t. she was talking about argument structures. Still there are a lot of similarities between arguments and plots.

Definition of argument: A set of two or more statements, one of which follows from the other.

Definition of story: A narrative that follows a course of events (implying that one must follow from the other)

Mainly, arguments and plots both must have a conclusion. Even if it is vague or ambiguous a conclusion is what separates a story from a series of events whether they are real or imaginary. However, since using that terminology, almost all well written stories would have unstated plots and since the conclusion is capsulated in the climax, for our diagramming purposes we will substitute ‘climax’ for ‘claim’ and ‘event’ for ‘premise’.

Simple Plot

A single event leads to the climax.

This mostly applies to short stories.
The fox asks the crow to sing (event) and the cheese falls out of the crow’s mouth (climax).

But it could apply to a longer story as well.

Saroun creates the one ring (event) so Frodo destroys it (climax).
The stories aren’t always told in the order they are diagramed.

Linked Plot

Two or more related events lead to the climax.

This is a very common plot structure for novels and, for me at least, is the most impressive because the climax hits and suddenly everything else fits together.

Takeo is being trained by Otori (event). Kaede is being forced to marry Otori (event). Lord Ida Sadamu tyrannizes the land (event). Takeo uses the skills he has been training for and Kaede does not marry Otori, thus overthrowing Lord Ida. (climax)

Convergent Plot

Two or more events lead to the climax but don’t depend on one another.

Mrs. Hubbard stabs Ratchet (event). Mary Debenham stabs Ratchet (event.) Colonal Arbuthnot stabs Ratchet (event). Ratchet is killed (climax).

Most mysteries contain events that only appear to contribute to the climax


One event leads to two or more climaxes

Common in disaster stories

The titanic sinks (event). Jack dies (climax). The captain goes down with his ship (climax).

Serial Plot

An event leads to a climax which in turn leads to another climax

Most evident in well crafted series of books

Cabarus is unrightfully ruler of Westmark (event). Theo overthrows Cabarus but saves his life (climax and event). Cabarus stirs an invasion in Westmark.

Because of the continuous movement this can be confused with a “page turner” pace in which nothing is ever quite resolved but doesn’t always build on itself.

Unstated Plot

The climax is implied but the reader never sees it happen

Boy sees girl and smiles (event). Girls sees boy and smiles (event). The reader guesses that boy and girl will get together even though there is no dialogue or action to indicate that

This is what is meant by showing instead of telling. The writer leaves the important things unsaid for emphasis.

Of course most stories are a much more complex combination of these types of plot but, for someone who usually runs away from anything remotely resembling structure, it makes sense for me to think of plot in this way.