Saturday, November 12, 2011

Short Pieces on Short Stories -- Plot

Conflict is the engine of plot.  Without a conflict there is no plot.  You could argue, without conflict there is no character – we are all of us the products of tension and misunderstanding, challenge and achievement:  plot.

Some stories are cunning masterpieces of plot, each step crafted and manipulated like a chess game, while others seem to drift along, aimlessly picking up feeling and meaning like a snowball.  These subtle insubstantial plots need to be handled with care to entice a reader, to maintain the reader’s emotional investment in the story.  The steam-powered plot grips the reader and sweeps them along in the excitement of what next?

The classic profile of a short story involves a gradual building of plot and momentum until a crisis or climax, followed by a short sharp denouement and resolution.  There are no rules however; today a short story can have multiple crises, or none, a tidy resolution or a cliff-hanging ending.



Jim Murdoch said...

I think one of the most interesting ways to explore this is the conflicted character. It’s easy when you have a protagonist and an antagonist but what if there’s only one person on the page? The answer is to have them wrestle with themselves. Just think of all the ways we refer to ourselves as if we’re made up of two separate parts. I’m not a big fan of plots myself. I love when they’re done well but so often you can see the workings through the page. I far prefer to see a conflicted character on a page trying to come to terms with himself.

jabblog said...

I like a definite ending - others leave me disappointed, dissatisfied, but maybe it leaves opportunity for a sequel.

susan t. landry said...

i have had problems with reading short stories in the past (i like my escapism long-form), altho of course some writers are masters of the form. lately i have been intrigued by lydia davis. do you know her writing...?

The Gooseberry Garden said...

welcome sharing a random or relevant poetry with us today.


hope to see you in.

Marylinn Kelly said...

And we come to one of the many reasons I seldom attempt fiction. I love reading fiction, I know what captivates me and know I haven't a prayer of being the next Dickens. It feels as though there are some rules.