Stories, writing

The Plot Thins

Somewhere or the other, you’ve probably heard someone saying that there’s no new material to write. In part, they’re right. But they’re also very, very wrong.

They’re right because there’s no new plot situations. Every plot can be broken down into the same basic structures trying to answer the same three questions.

  • What is the conflict?
  • Who is trying to resolve the conflict?
  • What actions are they taking to resolve it?

This is where those people who said there’s no new material to write are wrong. Every story answers those three differently and that’s where the uniqueness of every story comes into play.

More variations come into play when you look at plot structure, which you probably know from your early school years: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. That basic ‘mountain’ shape you learned is easily manipulated and formed into new structures. You might have multiple climaxes, each with their own burst of falling action (also called denouement) but only one overall resolution. Multiple lines of rising action might meet in the same climax and move towards a universal resolution.

There are many more variations on structure, some of which don’t look anything like the well-known shape. Each one adds another unique element to every story, using the same plot and situation. Every story is different, and that provides plenty of new ideas to write.

Plot breaks down even farther! There are thirty-six dramatic scenarios which fuel conflict and which provide the basis for every single story out there–yes, even yours. But also mine and every other storyteller’s. Even the oldest stories follow those scenarios.

So no, there’s nothing new to write, but there are many, many new ways to write it.


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