Plot, Plot, and more Plot! Part Six: Structuring the Incidents
The obstacles in the plot occur as a series of inter-related and connected incidents, or happenings, through which the action takes place and the plot and characters develop. These incidents are points of high drama, excitement and tension, created by skilful writing and designed to be dramatic peaks in the story.
To have a plot, which consisted of one major crisis followed by another, and another, and so on would be unrealistic and therefore unbelievable.
Each crisis or major incident (containing an important obstacle) should be carefully planned so as to arise naturally from the preceding action and be a logical and realistic outcome of that action.
What should result is an incident followed by a period of quiescence, followed by a further incident as the plot progresses. In this way the main events or incidents are seen as a series of linked ‘episodes’ within the main plot.
The action undulates from high drama to relative calm, all the while smoothly gaining momentum as the obstacles become progressively more difficult to overcome. The tension increases as the main character is placed under greater and greater pressure, before the climax when the final solution is reached.
This does not mean that the incidents and obstacles, or even the plot itself should be wild and wonderful, in a setting far removed from the child’s own set of circumstances. The opposite is nearer the truth.
If you examine good literature written for children, you will find that the majority deal with ordinary, everyday matters within a commonplace setting. The plot does not have to be extraordinary or fantastic in any way, as long as the reader is able to identify with it, and sees it as realistic.
What is required is a certain degree of originality in the treatment of your plot. This will mark it down as being unmistakably your own rather than a pale imitation of some other writer. We have already seen that using traditional themes is not only acceptable, but rather, desirable.
We shall see in the next section that there are a certain limited number of situations or ideas used in most plots, which form the basis of the majority of stories. To simply re-hash an old idea, or use hackneyed or worn out plots, which have been ‘done to death’ is not acceptable.
You must attempt to introduce originality into your plot, that extra ingredient which will hold your readers’ attention more closely, and also set your story apart from all others of its kind.
We finish: Plot, Plot and More Plot with our final instalment Part Seven: Subjects and Settings where we will link setting and subjects within your plot.
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