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Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Printable Version

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Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Vatman - 02-13-2008 11:19 AM

This will be my first lecture, and in turn it shall also guideline to those who wish to continue in my creative writing class. I entitled this first serious of lecture's and assignments. Developing plot line.


1. To bring from latency to or toward fulfillment: an instructor who develops the capabilities of each student.

plot line (plot'lin')

1. A literary or dramatic plot; a story line.
2. Dialogue essential to the development of a plot in a drama. Often used in the plural.

Now first in foremost, I will say that there is no commitment to this class, do it for fun, do it out of intrigue, do it for yourself, but do not do it out of obligation. And now that all of the above has been stated. Lets start shall we?

Have you ever had an idea, I do hope you have, if not then I pity you. But to those who think, to those who see the world in a light that they feel no other can see. I tell you now that you owe it to yourself, nay, to mankind. To express that tint of red your glasses may see. But how? How can you make the world see what you see?

Well that is what I am here for, to help you express those idea's, those outlooks to all those who dare pick up your writing. Thats enough drama for one speech, now lets get to the heart of the matter, the reason why we are here.

The very first thing you must do when you create a story, is to identify the story's "big picture". What is it you hope to accomplish by telling your tale?

I will give you an example of what I mean to say. George Orwell's famous novel Animal Farm. Is a tale about a bunch of barnyard critters that end up throwing out their masters and establishing a government of their own.

Did George Orwell decide to write a novel about his favorite barnyard animals or did he have something in mind? The answer is yes, Orwell sought to reveal the fallacies in a communistic government. Before Orwell wrote about Snowball and Napoleon he identified the "big picture" of his book. Even though there are at least three distinct plot lines in the novel, each separate source of conflict contains some allusion to the major dramatic plot line.

But Vatman, I still don't know what you mean by all this!!!

Lets say you were going to tell someone about your day at school, the first thing you do before you tell a story is give the story an overall theme. If your day was bad, you would identify all the bad things that happened and try to get your listener to sympathize with your plight.

So now we get to the very first assignment. I have here, a link to a rather short but funny story called Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl. Your task is to read the story and answer to this topic in one to two sentences what you think the big picture is supposed to be. There is no wrong answer, there is no time limit. I will work with each person individually on every assignment and lesson (assuming this does not get too popular, which it wont).

And here is the link.

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Darthmat - 02-13-2008 11:42 AM

Will read, Vat.

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Vatman - 02-13-2008 11:44 AM

Thank you for that Darthmat, it certainly is convenient.

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Darthmat - 02-13-2008 11:46 AM

Welcome, and good night.

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Darthmat - 02-13-2008 10:04 PM

Omg 5 times. Biggrin

Anyways, I thought it was really good story. It really wasn't that dark, even though if the news were to broadcast that story it'd be chilling, but I don't think that was the author's tone.

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Rebelnerd - 02-14-2008 02:30 AM

OMG roald dahl is fucking nuts. Cool

Re: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - WildFire - 02-14-2008 02:30 AM

I shall read when I get home. but good lecture, Vatman. i'll give you that.

RE: Developing Plotline Lecture: I - Aureate - 03-22-2015 01:32 PM

It seems to me to be putting a lot of trust in the author to assume a light and humorous story like Lamb to the Slaughter exists to convey an overarching theme. It is certainly possible to write one that doesn't, and if Dahl knows readers will search long and hard for buried meaning, he might suppose that they will hallucinate eventually, and he will feel confident neglecting to bury one in the first place. This is not the only time I have suspected an author of such a ploy.

It could be a certain arrogance on my part, to take my failure to recognize meaning as reason to doubt its existence, but perhaps the writer really stands to benefit from the exclusion. Indeed, are not subtle messages hailed as the mediums of the most refined and capable writers, and what message is more subtle than none at all? Consider the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thank You for the Light. Literary scholars have mused over its big picture for years, attention only assured if that picture is impossible to identify. I am not accusing Fitzgerald of intentionally making it so; he probably wrote with some intent. But the effect of his intricate and obscure purpose was, if we are being honest, similar to that of a story imbued with not a centimeter of unseen depth. His reputation would guarantee it ample contemplation regardless.

Now if I have construed meaningless stories as worthless, I wish to apologize and backtrack. One can still ponder with a grin the irony of the detectives' consumption of their desired evidence coupled with the comment, "Probably right under our very noses." One can still derive amusement from the simplicity and brilliant execution of Mary Maloney's scheme. Maybe Dahl was even satisfied with these reactions and did not want us to believe he was communicating higher ideas. I liked the story, but why must it conceal a "big picture?"

So for my assignment I submit a remark perhaps demonstrative of my literary ignorance: the story had no meaning at all. Lambaste me at will.