Plot Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 330 quotes )
When I think of highly plotted novels I think of detective fiction or mystery fiction, the kind of work that always produces a few dead bodies. But these bodies are basically plot points, not worked-out characters. The book's plot either moves inexorably toward a dead body of flows directly from it, and the more artificial the situation the better. Readers can play off their fears by encountering the death experience in a superficial way. A mystery novel localizes the awesome force of the real death outside the book, winds it tightly in a plot, makes it less fearful by containing it in a kind of game format. [from an interview with DeCurtis]
To plot is to live. […] We start out lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that's not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to seek shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral, Jack. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. - (WN 292)
And if I'm guilty of having gratuitous sex, then I'm also guilty of having gratuitous violence, and gratuitous feasting, and gratuitous description of clothes, and gratuitous heraldry, because very little of this is necessary to advance the plot. But my philosophy is that plot advancement is not what the experience of reading fiction is about. If all we care about is advancing the plot, why read novels? We can just read Cliffs Notes. A novel for me is an immersive experience where I feel as if I have lived it and that I've tasted the food and experienced the sex and experienced the terror of battle. So I want all of the detail, all of the sensory things—whether it's a good experience, or a bad experience, I want to put the reader through it. To that mind, detail is necessary, showing not telling is necessary, and nothing is gratuitous.
Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an actionis through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire letrun, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It canonly be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.
The age of clear answers was over. So was the age of characters and plots. Despite her journal sketches, she no longer really believed in characters. They were quiant devices that belonged to the nineteenth century. The very concept of character was founded on errors that modern psychology had exposed. Plots too were like rusted machinery whose wheels would no longer turn. A modern novelist could no more write characters and plots than a modern composer could a Mozart symphony. It was thought, perception, sensations that interested her, the conscious mind as a river through time, and how to represent its onward roll, as well as the tributaries that would swell it, and the obstacles that would divert it. If only she could reproduce the clear light of a summer's morning, the sensations of a child standing at a window, the curve and dip of a swallow's flight over a pool of water. The novel of the future would be unlike anything in the past.
Chris Claremont once said of Alan Moore, "if he could plot, we'd all have to get together and kill him." Which utterly misses the most compelling part of Alan's writing, the way he develops and expresses ideas and character. Plot does not define story. Plot is the framework within which ideas are explored and personalities and relationships are unfolded.
...the novel had reached its apogee with the marriage plot and had never recovered from its disappearance. In the days when success in life had depended on marriage, and marriage had depended on money, novelists had had a subject to write about. The great epics sang of war, the novel of marriage. Sexual equality, good for women, had been bad for the novel. And divorce had undone it completely. What would it matter whom Emma married if she could file for separation later? How would Isabel Archer’s marriage to Gilbert Osmond have been affected by the existence of a prenup? As far as Saunders was concerned, marriage didn’t mean much anymore, and neither did the novel. Where could you find the marriage plot nowadays? You couldn’t. You had to read historical fiction. You had to read non-Western novels involving traditional societies. Afghani novels, Indian novels. You had to go, literarily speaking, back in time.
I always write a draft version of the novel in which I try to develop, not the story, not the plot, but the possibilities of the plot. I write without thinking much, trying to overcome all kinds of self-criticism, without stopping, without giving any consideration to the style or structure of the novel, only putting down on paper everything that can be used as raw material, very crude material for later development in the story.
I could not, somehow, make contact with any familiar emotion. As I lingered in front of a lighted window, apparently beguiled by a pair of burgundy leather shoes, I could only identify a feeling of exlusion. I felt as if the laws of the universe no longer applied to me, since I was outside the normal frames of reference. A biological nonentity, to be phased out. And somewhere, intruding helplessly and to no avail into my consciousness, the anger of the underdog, plotting bloody revolution, plotting revenge.
Then there was a hard brown lozenge called the Tonsil Tickler. The Tonsil Tickler tasted and smelled very strongly of chloroform. We had not the slightest doubt that these things were saturated in the dreaded anaesthetic which, as Thwaites had many times pointed out to us, could put you to sleep for hours at a stretch. "If my father has to saw off somebody's leg," he said, "he pours chloroform on to a pad and the person sniffs it and goes to sleep and my father saws his leg off without him even feeling it." "But why do they put it into sweets and sell them to us?" we asked him. You might think a question like this would have baffled Thwaites. But Thwaites was never baffled. "My father says Tonsil Ticklers were invented for dangerous prisoners in jail," he said. "They give them one with each meal and the chloroform makes them sleepy and stops them rioting." "Yes," we said, "but why sell them to children?" "It's a plot," Thwaites said. "A grown-up plot to keep us quiet.
[E]very plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dnouement before anything be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dnouement constantly in view that we can plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points tend to the development of the intention.
Always I find when I begin to write there is one character who obstinately will not come alive...He never does the unexpected thing, he never surprises me, he never takes charge. Every other character helps, he only hinders. And yet one cannot do without him. I can imagine a God feeling in just that way about some of us. The saints, one would suppose, in a sense create themselves. They come alive. They are capable of the surprising act or word. The stand outside the plot, unconditioned by it. But we have to be pushed around. We have the obstinancy of non-existence. We are inextricably bound to the plot, and wearily God forces us, here and there, according to his intention, characters without poetry, without free will, whose only importance is that somewhere, at some time, we help to furnish the scene in which a living character moves and speaks, perhaps the saints with the opportunities for their free will.
As for 'too much description,' well, opinions differ. We write the books we want to read. And I want to read books that are richly textured and full of sensory detail, books that make me feel as if I am experiencing a story, not just reading it. Plot is only one aspect of telling a tale, and not the most important one. It is the journey that matters, not how fast you arrrive at the destination. That's my view, anyway. Others writers differ, of course. There are hundreds of books where everything is subordinate to advancing the plot, some of them quite fine, but my work has never been about that, and never will be."GRRM, who ain't your bi**h, telling it like it is!
When I say "narrative", I do not mean simply the plot, I mean considerably more. Plots and their shapes--the bare outlines of stories--were something I know J.R.R. Tolkien himself was interested in. When I was an undergraduate, I went to a course of lectures he gave on the subject--at least, I think that was the subject, because Tolkien was all but inaudible. He evidently hated lecturing, and I suspect he also hated giving his thoughts away.
Anyone can write five people trapped in a snowstorm. The question is how you get them into the snowstorm. It's hard to write a good play because it's hard to structure a plot. If you can think of it off the top of your head, so can the audience. To think of a plot that is, as Aristotle says, surprising and yet inevitable, is a lot, lot, lot of work.
Do you ever get moods when life seems absolutely meaningless? It's like a badly-constructed story, with all sorts of characters moving in and out who have nothing to do with the plot. And when somebody comes along that you think really has something to do with the plot, he suddenly drops out. After a while you begin to wonder what the story is about, and you feel that it's about nothing—just a jumble.