Lock up the Plot

I love thinking about writing. Love it. This might be due to how I got into writing. I didn’t necessarily grow up wanting to write stories. I didn’t even see myself as a writer. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer. But let me tell you something: it turns out lawyers write a lot. And lawyers tell stories. And telling stories creatively can help lawyers tell their clients stories in a more compelling manner.

Because I’m a lawyer, I’m also kind of a process buff. I like to think of things in terms of the processes. I think that’s why I love story structure so much.

Take plot, for example. There are tons of books out there saying there are a certain number of plots. Numbers like 7, 10, 20, and 36 have all been thrown out. And this is just a selection of the possibilities.

Then I read James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. Leave it to a former lawyer to explain a concept in a way a lawyer can understand it. Bell suggests plot boils down to four components:

  • Lead Character
  • Objective
  • Conflict
  • Knock-Out Blow

The story establishes the Lead Character: the protagonist. The protagonist must have some Objective and there must be stakes tied to that objective. There must be Conflict in reaching that objective. And, for a satisfying story, the lead must deliver a Knock-Out Blow at the climax.

Think about how many plot structures are explained by this simple concept. What a great way to LOCK up Plot.