Tuesday 28 February 2012

Plotting, a lesson in life...

...or another way of looking at it:

I’m worried that my life is like a weak plot!

Yesterday I read over some notes on the theory of plotting but this led me to an unsettling realisation. I have the same problem in my life as I do in my writing!

I looked at the pace of a story and compared it to meeting new people at a party:

PLOTTING: Is the beginning of the story boring because you’re giving lots of background detail to set up the story?
MY LIFE: I suspect I tell new acquaintances lots of background information about myself and fail to see them glazing over.

PLOTTING: Does the middle of the story contain sufficient peeks and lulls in the conflict to maintain interest?
MY LIFE: I’m hopeless at maintaining small talk and often dry up and look round the room for something to say.

PLOTTING: Don’t tell too much of your story too soon.
MY LIFE: The alternative is that I continue gabbling on about myself until someone comes and rescues my newly-made acquaintance.

PLOTTING: Is your conclusion a satisfying one?
MY LIFEI hate saying goodbye to people at parties. It’s awkward. Do they expect kisses, handshakes, arrangements in the diary for get-togethers? I have been known to creep out so I can avoid these social uncertainties.

As for the nitty-gritty of the story plot, it compares quite unfavourably to the way I run my life:

PLOTTING: Don’t get bogged down with secondary character’s lives. They’ll provide excellent material for that sequel.
MY LIFE: I am rather nosy and spend more time than I should listening in to conversations [all in the name of character research] of people I don’t really know and I am far too fascinated by gossip for my own good. [Gossip is bad. I think I've mentioned before that in Hebrew gossip is called Lashon Ha-Ra and it’s considered a sin.]

PLOTTING: Characters need adversity to change. Conflict is essential. Linking conflict to character change brings your story to life.
MY LIFE: In that case, my world is less than alive. I’ll do anything to avoid conflict, anything! [Mr A disagrees with this statement and I admit that I do stand up for my rights but I hate living in a house where every discussion becomes a disagreement.]

PLOTTING: The protagonist should be primarily involved in causing the plot to unfold and should be involved in nearly every event thereby having some effect on the plot.
MY LIFE: Whoops! I rarely feel that I’m in charge of what happens in my life but merely respond to events that are thrown at me.

PLOTTING: One primary purpose of plot is to force the protagonist to change by overcoming internal conflict.
MY LIFE: So that’s why I can’t make personal improvements! If I shy away from conflicts then I’ll never be forced to change in order to overcome them!

Do you run your life in the same way that you plot your stories?