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Friday, June 28, 2013

Plot driven stories

To continue from yesterday, if your story isn't driven by the character, what is driving it?

The plot, or the action is driving your story.

Think of the major two plot types - Adventure and Quest. They are both defined as a protagonist in search for a person, place, or thing. So what is the difference between the two? Well, the quest plot is a character driven plot, and the adventure is plot driven.

The protagonist in the quest plot is really shaped by the adventure they go on, and ultimately is changed. Classic example: Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. At the end of the story, she is a different person.

The protagonist in the Adventure plot is not shaped by the journey, and does not have to be different at the end of the story. Why? Because in this type of plot, it is the action which is the most important, not the character. So here in the Adventure plot, it is the journey itself which is the most important element in the story, while in the Quest plot, it is the character.  Think Raiders of the lost Ark.

Getting back to what drives the story - the action!  So, in the Quest plot, the character has to be very well developed with goals, obstacles, flaws, etc, and here in the Adventure plot the action needs to be well developed. It needs to always move forward. Needs to have many obstacles.  Needs to have surprises - twists and turns. If you don't surprise your audience to a certain degree, they will see what's coming next and get bored. By staying one step ahead of them is the way to be entertaining.

Think North by Northwest. One of the greats by Hitchcock. The story and action is always ahead of us. We can never guess what's coming next, and the action hardly ever slows down and it never stops. It moves forward. Always.