Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Them's fightin' words: plot

 So, what do you think of this statement (I am pulling out of context) that I read in a review recently?

"I know that plots are simply arenas,  places for the characters to play and oftentimes they can be silly or completely unrealistic to accommodate a much larger story."

Do you agree?  Any good examples of this idea in action?


  1. At first I thought of Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse," since character is more important than plot in that one, but I don't know that it quite fits the bill.

    I think I tend to think of plot as what you get when you put characters in challenging situations- kind of a "what's the next most-realistic worst-case scenario x could be faced with?" thing, and then resolve as the character successfully meets the challenges (or fails and learns from it, or whatever).

    So the idea of coming up with a plot as a sort of showcase for your characters, instead of it growing organically from them, is kind of weird to me. But maybe she didn't mean overall plot, since the plots she was thinking about would accommodate a larger story?

    I'm confused?

  2. *To the Lighthouse* might not be a bad example. *Mrs.Dalloway* is probably a good one, too. You can reduce the plot to a sentence, but it doesn't capture the point of the book, which is the characters and what they think and do (or don't do).

    Now that I think about it, any story/series that is episodic in nature is probably covered by this particular quote, too. It may be formulaic within a genre, but sometimes that really doesn't matter since the characters playing around in the world are enough to keep us interested.