Some folk of a particular type of talent can write a books without a particular plot, as a journal of observation and experience of one or more persons. This requires a particular type of insight, use of imagery and wide knowledge of language and its nuances. I would not attempt this, not in my current state of writing processes anyway.
Back to Plots….
Plots can be straightforward, linear A to C with a detour on B as an optional, or they can be labyrinthian and the inbetweens. At this basic level the type of genre doesn’t impact on the choice. The vital factor is not to lose sight of it. I cannot stress this too strongly, speaking as one who produced three volumes of a comic fantasy in which there were proliferations of episodes, skits and interludes against which could be heard the faint cries of the plot not to be forgotten. Eventually it gave up and went to seek rest. Then when I attempted to write Volume IV as a multi-faceted account of the various factions involved in the world, the plot simply refused to assist telling me I had ignored it previously and would not go through that experience again.
Some folk will plan out their book with a series of stages, the details of which are filled in as the narrative moves towards an already envisaged conclusion. Others have outlines but are willing to move this way and that in the journey. Some of us start out with only the faintest idea, usually along the lines of a few characters and a set of circumstances they have to navigate through, making the rest up as we go along. Then there are all the permutations on these three. Let it be so.
Plots can also be chaotic and there is a valid case for this. If you consider Life and those incidents both large and small which are ‘historic’ or ‘memorable’ you will find a great deal of the unexpected happening and those involved having to improvise, or sometimes just spin out of control under the pressure of the situation.
As evidence I cite this quote:
(No I don’t know why the font size changed WP being quirky again)
“Gentlemen do not be daunted if chaos reigns; it undoubtedly will.” said Brigadier S. James Hill, commanding officer of the British 3rd Parachute Brigade, in an address to his troops shortly before the launching of Operation Overlord—the D-Day invasion of Normandy. This proved to be prophetic.
Therefore the situation can be the plot; think of all good disaster movies (OK I know putting out a lava flow with fire hoses in ‘Volcano was’ stretching it a bit; still a good movie though). Folk thrown in at the deep end.
Since my life seemed to be based on improvisation this is where I tend to go when writing. Thus in my latest the central characters are not alpha-leaders, they take orders, they improvise (there’s that word again) and they ignore orders. The foes are not the deadly dull Perfect Plan Percy/Petunia who sit about god-like until the last chapter where due to some supreme effort they are foiled. As history shows many is the ‘great’ organisation which has floundered on its own arrogance. In this book no one is in complete control, some may have a temporary advantage but the signs are there this is only conditional.
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So let there be a plot but it does not have to be tight or linear (again the word). A plot can be ‘How we survived. It is enough. And therein you can give your characters room to grow and interact. Work as you will, with whatever you are most comfortable with. This is where growth starts.