‘THE PLOT THICKENS’
In previous parts of The Art of Storytelling, we looked at historical context and development of stories through the ages, beginnings and endings, storylines and protagonist character creation. Now we have some idea as to who the characters in our story are, what they look and act like, an all important question arises. What is the major plot enmeshed within your story. How will it be revealed and how will it serve your planned themes? Remember for the sake of argument all planning of characters and story timeline are achieved and you are beginning to write your tale. Remember also the opening page of the first chapter must magnetically attract potential readers to your words, make it meaningful and memorable. They cannot wait to turn the page to find out what happens next, this is your aim.
Do not be surprised if that first paragraph is written and re-written until satisfaction is achieved, because as sure as ‘eggs are eggs’, once you start the creative process of bringing the story alive the more you will engage. Some writers think about the reader when they are writing, what will they think and how will they react to such and such a chapter. Perhaps I am selfish, I write to tell a story and in reality it is not until perhaps at the proofing stage, I may consider the reader. It may be also associated with me often writing in the first person because I am attempting to act out and live the drama I am engaged in writing about. In all honesty I doubt if Tolkien, Stephen King, JK Rowling, CJ Sansom or any storytellers thought about readers too much because they have a tale to tell as tell it they do. I would caution obsessions with ‘what the reader might think’, you will lose your sanity. Again, I write for me and hope readers like it, success is honesty with one’s self in the first instance, do not sell out and stick to your guns as they say. It takes time to be a successful author and it is not all about money.
So in my own case as far as ‘Crach Ffinnant-The Prophecy’ is concerned the initial plot is revealed in chapter one when Crach’s old master dispatches him on a journey to London laden with sacred scrolls. Once he has arrived a ‘second apprenticeship’ begins with Master Healan an apothecary as the plot thickens when it is revealed to both Crach and Owain Glyndwr, their futures. A plot of course is building all of the time and branches into sub plots helping achieve its goal. Crach joined a travelling circus in order to get to London, he chose to become dumb because he did not speak English at that time. His experiences take on a very different slant because of this decision but it serves him well. So a key issue is the timeline of plot development. I liken it to a tree with branches and roots, plots and sub plots forming a story, your tree, your creation!
To help define your plot there are a few basic common themes. Battling and overcoming monstrous characters, rebirth and renewal, questing, journeying and returning, rags to riches, tragedy and comedy.
Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy is a ‘quest’ yet dips toes in all themes and I believe good stories include all of these elements but tis a matter of personal choice, not academic argument.
Keep your quill sharp!
Originally published in Words Matter Publishing Quarterly Journal