Socrates challenges our thought processes:  “I only know that I know nothing,” he famously said.

Plato challenges our view of the world.  He chains us in a cave and tells us that we see only shadows.

Aristotle challenges everything.

He wrote volumes upon volumes on physics, biology, botany, agriculture, mathematics, logic, politics, ethics, dance, and theatre . . . to name a few.  😉

Plato called Aristotle “the mind of the school”, and so he must have been.  On all topics he classified and categorized and defined, creating some of the first systems of understanding.

Aristotle on Plot Structure

Much like Freytag (see the previous blog “One Guiding Decision”), Aristotle viewed plot from a dramatic standpoint.  He didn’t initiate the structure.  Instead, he analyzed the best plays–by Sophocles, d. 406 BCE; Euripides, d. 406 BCE;  and Aeschylus, d. 456 BCE–all three of whom preceded him by two or three generations.  These three are the masters of ancient Greek drama, and their intuitive understanding of great story can affect us just as strongly over 2,000 years later.

To Aristotle, the great dramas required 5 essentials:

 

The continuation of this original blog post from  30 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Professionby M. A. Lee.

 

White-hot writing–not worrying about plot or characters, just letting the story flow–now that is fun!

At some point, however, that flashover of creativity has to be restrained.  We need to impose order on chaotic thought.

Your Guiding Decision is to determine your PLOT.

Two considerations when dealing with plot are type and method.

TYPES of PLOT

The Booker Prize people claimed that—for all the stories in the world, from the most ancient myth to the most disaffected absurdist modern—only seven basic plots exist.

Seven.  7.  Nyah, can’t be.

Let’s try it.

  1. Overcoming the MonsterBeowulf, Jaws, Lord of the Flies, King Lear, Alien, Fried Green Tomatoes, Atonement
  2. Rags to RichesCinderella, Aladdin, Oliver Twist, Great Gatsby, Prince and the Pauper, Good Deeds, Pretty Woman
  3. The QuestOdyssey, Watership Down, Raising Arizona, Willow, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Avatar, Pride and Prejudice
  4. Comedy: anything by Aristophanes, anything by the Marx Brothers, Airplane, The Blues Brothers, Animal House, A Walk in the Woods, Arsenic and Old Lace, Bringing Up Baby
  5. TragedyOedipus, Macbeth, Rebel without a Cause, Frances, Philadelphia, Cool Hand Luke, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
  6. RebirthSleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol, Now Voyager, Summertime, Avatar, Persuasion
  7. Voyage and Return: Peter Rabbit, The Hobbit, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Brideshead Revisited, Mansfield Park, Great Expectations, The Tempest

Whaddya know?  The Booker Prize people are right.  Whether concrete or abstract, real or metaphorical, all sorts of stories do fit these seven categories.

Methods for Plotting

Method 1

Every school unfortunately teaches simplistic plot, otherwise known as Freytag’s Pyramid, which can look like the graphic at the left.

The unfortunate truth is that stories are not simple pyramids.

For Kurt Vonnegut, his stories go straight down.

Method 2 . . . .

The continuation of this original blog post from  20 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Profession, by M. A. Lee.

Nulla dies sine Linea. ~~ Leo Tolstoy

No days without lines.

It would take “nulla dies sine linea” to write the massive War and Peace, wouldn’t it?

This little phrase is key.

And it is extremely hard to do.  Life interferes so easily.

Yet we need to make this our mantra: Nulla dies sine linea.  Nulla dies sine linea.  Nulla dies sine linea.  And then we must follow-thru with the action of those words.

We must WRITE EVERYDAY.

That needs to be a shout.  We don’t need to accept any excuses.  This is a profession.  Treat it like one.  WRITE EVERYDAY.  Nulla dies sine linea.

Look, we have to treat writing like the job it is.  It’s not our hobby.  We let other people think it’s our hobby.  After all, we’re at home.

Look at the ways we let them interrupt us:

The continuation of this original blog post from  10 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Profession, by M. A. Lee.

Challenge : Deadlines

NANOWRIMO, the National Novel Writing Month, is the internationally infamous writing challenge to churn out 50,000 words in a month, and writers do it with deadlines.

This yearly challenge is the opportunity to create a new life for ourselves, a writing life.  NANOWRIMO is a time to stop thinking of writing as a hobby and resolve to turn it into a profession, to create a New Advent.

WHO Needs to Participate?

The challenge provides a great exercise for all writers.  We should participate at least once in our writing life.  If we feel burned out, the white-hot drive of creativity will recharge us—after it drains us.  For the total newbies, NANOWRIMO forces us to work past what we think is our stopping point and teaches us how to do that.

This opportunity is especially helpful to writers stuck between hobby and job.  It’s not limited to fiction;  bloggers can benefit.  Through constant deadlines we must push to achieve, we learn self-discipline.  NANOWRIMO also touches on the many areas needed when writing stories.

WHERE to Start?

Consider these 4.

  1. Characters :: get to know the primaries. How are they going to collide?
  2. Situation :: understand the remote and near causes and effects of major events.
  3. Plot :: How will you pace the story? Many writers talk about scenes and segues or the III-Act structure.  Basically, you should know the start and the end and 5 twists between (Plot 7).  These will get you going.
  4. Research :: Special settings. Special elements (steam machines, zeppelins, etc).  Know how the things work.

If you haven’t done any of this, if you don’t even have a story prepped, just start writing and go.  As scenes develop, put them where they need to be in the sequence.  This sounds like the free-est possibility of all.  Make yourself have a deadline of the Plot 7 by the tenth of the month.

WHAT to Do?

The continuation of this original blog post from  10 November 2016 can be found in the publication Think Like a Writer: 7 Tips to Change a Hobby to a Profession, by M. A. Lee.