AJ Reads ‘Plot & Structure’: Chapter 8

This is the advanced plot structure chapter—or rather, one of them. I’m badly in need of something like this, because I’m trying to juggle three main characters, and I’m starting to feel the need to start employing more advanced tactics.

Unfortunately the chapter feels like a jumble, as there are few smooth transitions between the various section. Still, if there’s anything I take away from it, it’s the following:

  • Theme, symbols, and motifs must grow organically from the characters and the story, instead of trying to shoehorn the latter into the former. You determine your theme after wandering through your novel for a while, and you figure out symbols and motifs by embedding detail and observing what pops up repeatedly.

  • Long novels should be treated as having several LOCKs, with the K now standing for “kick things to the next LOCK” until you reach knockout. I’m thinking this is also useful for serials, since their nature can be long and meandering.

  • Parallel plotlines should be treated as individual LOCKs, so that no one plotline is boring. This is something that A Game of Thrones excelled at, by the way. (Your mileage may vary in later books in the Song of Ice and Fire series.)

  • Non-linear plots also take LOCK form. It’s just that eventually the pieces should all eventually fall together so that you do get a LOCK.

A rather short chapter, except for the examples, which are mildly helpful. I think these are all useful insights; particularly number two makes me feel better about going forwards with a long-running web serial. But more on that in another post.