What plot depends upon

Speaking with youth writers this week about plot. Josip Novakovich writes in FICTION WRITER’S WORKSHOP, “To summarize (at the risk of oversimplifying): Plot depends on passions—on how characters struggle to fulfill them.”

I’m dumbfounded sometimes about the inordinate amount of energy spent on methods for plotting and creating “original” plots. I sigh when I hear about beginning writers paying big bucks for workshops that promise to reveal the secret for plotting the next big Hollywood blockbuster. I yearn for more, or at least as much, concentration on character as on plot. Indeed, the main focus of my discussion will be to get the young writers to consider the importance of character building.

Wind your characters up, infuse them with life, bless upon them compelling passions and wants, then place them into an interesting setting. If those initial efforts go well, they will do the job of plotting for you. They will propel themselves along to their inevitable end.