To me this is the largest and most beloved form of writing I like to partake in.
Because plot does have many sizes. But first, it would be best to take a look a just what the purest and most needed ingredients to plot are.
Note, just like in baking, where mostly the same ingredients are used in order to make something sweet–even though, for the most part, the same exact ingredients– butter flower baking soda salt and milk–are used in different proportions that can be the difference between scones, cake, or a burnt and chunky moist croissant.
What I mean is that there is no real order to these ingredients, nor rules to the amount you use, only, that you use them(even if only a few).
Those ingredient are this:…a status quo…a warning…a risk…a doubt…a plan…a strategy…the options…the ask for assistance(from friend, book, or mentor)…the reason–just to name the basics.
Mostly every book uses these pieces. In essence, it is basic Problem Solving used by managers running your favorite local restaurants to you, when your neighbors dog starts barking in the middle of the night and you have to decide, hopefully, ethically, what you should go about doing next…
It Starts With Your Character Doing Something Normal, free of any problem dilemma or predicament. Lets say theres a boy, and that his name is George, and that he’s chopping wood in the back yard behind his brothers home….Why is this step important, you ask? Because it creates a calm, essence of normality, essential, to contrasting the bother-of-an-issue Georges friend, Carl, is about to bring…
Ex: I woke up round noon, feed Ralph, cleaned the undercarriage of my Chevy and began chopping wood for this nights gathering. Hucking the axe downward till I was wet, sore, and heaving feral as a bear, next to seven fat piles of cinder.
Thus Carl, The Deliverer Of The Issue(though other options like, say, a letter, a message broadcast on the radio or tele-vision, maybe its the protagonist himself who realizes the problem–either way you want it to disrupt his ‘status quo’.
Ex: Behind me I heard the distinct sound of my best friend, Carl Regginald’s high pitched dolphin laugh. “Boy do I got news for you…that chubby red haired brute you slugged yesterday at Jerry’s, he’s a cop…”
Next comes Risk, Doubt, Debated Plan, and Strategic Arguement. I’m going to group theses ingredients together, cause I find, most times, they get along just swimmingly, complimentarily, and enjoyably readable.
*** BUT NOTE: The biggest part of this piece, to me, will be George’s (the ‘hero/main role’ in this case) Denial and Disbelief of the problem. Because, if you want any point to sound realistic, it must be challenged as something that is a whimsical, ridiculous, to strange to be true statement…this then creates the Debate and Plan…that lead to the Strategy of said plan, moving towards the final, splendid, solution that’ll be your conclusion.
Like this, where George denies Carls assumption that the cop was a threat.
Ex: “Well he wasn’t on duty, not like I can catch a charge for it…” (Denial) said George itchy his nose, and hucking the axe at another log. “And he threw his hands first, I, was only self defending.”
Carl sighed. “Thats not what he thinks, word is he’s been after you all morning, got a rifle with him too…. this is a small town George, you should lay low, especially since your known to be involved with…” (Risk Mentioned, even if subtly mentioned, even a hint of it, like hint of salt, can make or break a pie. )
“Involved with what.” George was easily irritable, he was irritable now. (Plan and Strategy of plan begin.) “You know I’ve got no need to worry, there isn’t a car, truck or bike in this town who can catch my 12 cylinder.” he pointed to his Chevy Foren sitting wide stance in the garage, letting the axe lay, eldritch, on his sweaty, bare skinned shoulder. “You tell him THAT…” he added.
Carl swallowed nervously. “Well y-y-yes but, Mary said she doesn’t want any one, especially a whole task force willing to strong handedly back up a fellow uniform to come stomping across her front lawn, she just got a patch of new flowers you know…you know how anal she is able her flowers….George, stay with me for a few days, I got snacks in my fridge, all kinds…it won’t be too bad…just till this blows over…’kay?”
George nodded, gesturing him away before returning to his chopping, chopping, chopping, sweatily.
Again, the conclusion there is key. By the end of it the two best friends came to an agreed upon plan, George goes back to chopping his wood, and the next chapter or section or passage is set up for writing.. Not only that, but by doing this, you make a full circle tie, that echoes and resembles your opening paragraphs, giving your passages the structure of a respectable edifice.(one that is key to holding the reader focused, on track, and following along without getting bored lost, or irritably confused.)
******Plot sizes, big and small******
As useful as these plot ingrediants can be on a large scale, spread over the entirety of your book, used from your opening to closing chapter. They can also be used in smaller forms, like, say, apposed to making an ‘enormous wedding cake of a plot’ (a whole book.) Perhaps whip up a smaller pie, using these ingredients in a single, yet rich, chapter.
And, if you really want to get slick-with-it, make a passage sweet as a standalone spoonful of white chocolate mouse….try something like this, using all the ingrediants in a single dense passage.
Ex: I was cutting carrots when Julie came over with the news that changed my life in the bad way. (Character ‘in the middle of scene’ PLUS ‘problem enters.) She told me her dog died and she wanted someone to do something, anything with, to pass the time less sadly. (Julie continuing to be sad is the Risk) I offered to got he Mexican restaurant she likes but we decided on the movies, the new transformers movie thats been the talk of the town these days. (Solution, but also NOTE the usage of OPTIONS listed after asked what to do about problem, they didn’t just decide on movies, they had choices–the mexican restaurant–but strategically came to choice of the movies because of its recent popularity.) I never knew how to talk to Julie, out of all my friends she is the most difficult to understand. But I tried to poke some laughs out of her. (she likes my sarcasm). And I think she only wanted a friend, even if I was quiet and didn’t speak beside her the whole night.(Attempts to strategize ways to cheer her up.)
She cried afterwards, we were in my car and it was hot and I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing, driving her home soundlessly, telling her to call me later that night.
Sometimes thats all you can do during times like those. (CONCLUSIVE LINE).
Try it out. Let me know what you think.
*keep the pen dancing, keep a dancing pen.