2 Story and plotStory—the events and actions occurring over time, relating to charactersPlot—the actions, events, effects as presented within the narrativemay be out of sequence, may not include important parts of the story, etc.
3 Plots and emplotmentPlots are the sets of events presented within the narrative that drive the story forwardEvents may be actions taken by characters or may be ‘natural’ events that occur within the story world that affect the characters (storm, volcano, economic crash)Events are linked, usually in a causal chain“One thing leads to another”
4 Plot structurePlots range from very simple to extremely complex (“imbroglio”)Many narratives have a number of subplots tied to the overall main or superordinate plotConclusion of a subplot will often move the character(s) forward in the overarching main plot
5 You can think of characters traveling a road from a beginning to some end Some source of disturbance sets the characters on their journeyThe journey occurs over time and in some contextThings that happen early determine those that happen laterThere are complications along the way that usually become more demanding as characters approach their goalA major conflict occurs, is resolved and events flow toward resolution of the original disturbance
6 Events Kernels and Satellites (Porter, Larson, Harthcock & Nellis) Kernels (Hubs): Major events or branching points in the plot structure that force characters to choose between or among alternate pathsSatellites: Minor plot events that add texture and complexity to characters and elements but are not essential elementsExamples of order of plot: OUATITW and Memento among others. Imagine Memento being told chronologically? Also mention Once Upon a Time in America (editor of Police Academy arranging it chronologically)Ask, so what are the hubs and satellites?
7 EventsEvents may be actions taken by characters or may be ‘natural’ events that occur within the story world that affect the characters (storm, volcano, economic crash)The events are portrayed as causal—one thing leads to anotherThe plot may not present these events chronologicallyFlashbacks and flashforwards
8 Conflict Plots are driven by conflict Protagonist v. antagonist Harry PotterHumans against natureJurassic ParkHumans fighting themselves (internal demons)DexterHumans against the supernaturalSupernaturalAnd so on
9 Motive Conflict is based on the motive of the protagonist Seeking somethingOften generated through actions of the antagonist or by changes in circumstanceSharpest conflict is generated by incompatible motives among main charactersAntagonist has a motive that directly opposes that of the protagonistMultiple protagonists with incompatible motivesIt’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
10 Causal chainMany real-life events cannot be explained as the consequence of some earlier action (occur by chance, fortune), but in narrative most events are clearly linked to earlier events or actions“If it had not been for X, Y wouldn’t have happened”
11 Aristotle’s Elements of Plot ReversalsDiscoveriesComplicationsCatastropheResolution
12 Variation by medium Film Television The plot unfolds in a rather gradual, upward spiral with varying amounts of ups and downs depending on the particular storyComes to a close at the end of the movieTelevisionThe plot unfolds in pulses with highpoints immediately preceding commercials and minor conclusions to each pulse following the breakThe end of the episode may not lead to a conclusion of the plot or may only answer a single subplotThe Amazing Race
13 The individual episode TV Narrative is open-ended. Many episodes are used to tell a story. These stories unfold in a “story world,” a setting or situation in which the characters live.The Story World of the Series (Plot A)1342The individual episodeEach episode has itsown storyline. Thisis often called Plot B.In some instances there are multiple plots (B, C, D) in each episode—Friends, Seinfeld, for example.The Story World establishes a contextin which weekly or daily episodes unfold. Theoverall plot of the series moves slowly. This isconsidered Plot A.
14 Stories are also tied together by “dangling causes.” Dangling causes are based on our understanding of cause/effect relationships.We know that an event (a cause) will result in some effect.In television we often see a cause but the effect is withheld and we will not know the result until a future episode.
15 Dangling Causes The Story World 12Causes lead to effects that become causes for other effects. BUT these cause / effect relationships may stretch across episodes or even seasons! Causes which do not result in an immediate effect are called dangling causes.Dangling causes are used to sustain viewer/reader interest and to create tension.
16 Genre The standard plots of various genres are well-known When working within a genre, deviating too significantly from the classic plot will often lead to dissatisfaction among the dedicated audienceHowever, too strict an adherence to the traditional plot for a given genre leads to audience disinterestSome amount of creativity is appreciated
17 Detective story Client comes to detective, asks for help Detective takes case, is opposed by antagonist/criminalDetective investigates, meets and overcomes obstacles, solves crimeAntagonist is killed/goes to jailIf client was female, may end up with detectiveGender reversal is rare
19 A good plot Holds together—it doesn’t seem implausible No major ‘plot holes’What is acceptable depends upon the genreIn a fantasy, you can present actions and events that are consistent with the plot that would be inappropriate to other genresStardust
20 Plot holes“A plot hole, or plothole, is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story's plot, or constitutes a blatant omission of relevant information regarding the plot. These include such things as unlikely behaviour or actions of characters, illogical or impossible events, events happening for no apparent reason, or statements/events that contradict earlier events in the storyline.”Wikipedia
21 Plot holes are identified by dedicated fans and published online
22 A good plotDraws upon feelings/experiences the audience members bring to the textChariots of Fire
23 A good plot Is consistent with the characterization In TV series, for example, the characters have established a personality that the audience understands and expects to be consistentActing out of character could be considered a form of implausibility
24 A good plot Alternates action and rest/thought, etc. Though the general trend is toward more intense action and quickened pacing, the inclusion of subplots, minor conflicts, etc. keep the audience interested as the story progresses
25 A good plot Does not answer the ‘enigma’ too quickly The audience member should not be certain of how things are going to turn out until after the climaxWhile some narratives begin with the conclusion, there is still some question as to how things led to that particular outcomeAmerican Beauty
26 A good plotIs neither so simple that audience members know what will happen far in advance nor so complicated that the audience cannot follow the logicAudience members should be able to make plausible predictions for most, but not all, events/actions/effects
27 Audience reactions that enhance enjoyment SuspenseEffects of an action/event must not be revealed too quicklySurpriseAudience members must not be able to predict all events and their outcomesPlot twists
28 A good plot Leads to an appropriate conclusion Most endings are “happy”Unhappy endings usually come from behavior that is immoral or stupidHero’s ‘tragic flaw’
34 Plot devicesA MacGuffin is an object (or character) which drives the actions of the characters, but whose actual nature is not important to the story; another object would work just as well, if the characters treated it with the same importance.Hitchcock said that “in a thriller the MacGuffin is usually ‘the necklace’; in a spy story it is ‘the papers’”.MacGuffins are frequently found in ‘quest’ fantasy stories; video games
36 Nick Lowe’s list of plot devices Collect-the-Coupons plotting. Because having a small group of protagonists overcome an army of villains would be too implausible, “what you do instead is write into the scenario one or more Plot Coupons which happen to be "supernaturally" linked to the outcome of the larger action; and then all your character have to do is save up the tokens till it's time to cash them in.”
38 Plot voucher (Nick Lowe) The object, typically given to the protagonist shortly before, that allows them to escape from a situation that would be otherwise impossible.The protagonist needs to “save the voucher and cash it in at the appropriate time.”Most of the devices given to James Bond by Q could fall into this category.
40 Other plot devices are simply one-offs to get the protagonist to the next scene of the story. The enemy spy, who suddenly appears, defects, reveals the location of the secret headquarters and is never heard of again, would be an extreme example.
41 Many video games rely heavily on plot devices; games often require characters to perform arbitrary tasks in order to ‘win’ the game.
42 Universal Plot Generator A Plot Generator is a device written into your scenario that will create further stories as often as required, while laying no restrictions whatever on the kind of story produced.Red KryptoniteThe Time TunnelStargate
47 Deus ex machinaThe phrase has been extended to refer to any resolution to a story that does not pay due regard to the story's internal logic and is so unlikely that it challenges suspension of disbelief, allowing the author to conclude the story with an unlikely, though more palatable, ending.Turns out to be a dream
48 A related and common example is the tendency for the cops, etc A related and common example is the tendency for the cops, etc. to arrive just in the nick of time to save a victim being tortured and about to be killed
50 QuestA complicated search for capture or return of some object or personHero myth
51 QuibbleFollowing the exact terms of an agreement to escape what would normally be expectedLegal bargainsAgreements in fantasy storiesPacts with the devilClever and unusual quibbles startle and please readers, but clumsily contrived ones can seem artificial ways to escape a fictional problem.
56 IGN Playstation Team’s “Top 10 Overused Plot Devices” Secret organizations plotting conspiracies, possibly relating to world dominationUncovering long lost remnant of somethingFulfilling a prophecyKilling the aliensUnlocking one’s hidden true powers, a.k.a. the chosen oneAccidentally unleashing a terrible evilMust seek revengeWorld War IIMain character with amnesiaWorld ending