I’ve ranted in earlier posts about my negative feelings towards the Christmas season; however, that rant didn’t stop the people who love me from getting me gifts.
Some people actually like shopping. What can I say?
I accepted the gifts graciously. I do know how to do that when it’s necessary.
This year, my list included a number of books on the craft of writing and I was fortunate to receive one from that list.
The book is Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell. I learned of it through another blog (see here) and have since seen several references to the same book within other books. (Authors are great. They’re a very helpful bunch, supporting each others work because they know that word of mouth is what sells books best.)
I’ve only begun reading it within the last couple of days. I can already see why Plot and Structure is considered, by every reference I’ve found, to be one of the best books to read if a writer wants to learn the nitty-gritty details of constructing a plot that captures the attention, built on a solid structure that keeps the action moving.
I liken this to pouring a concrete foundation (structure), then erecting a building on top of it (plot). You need to know what you’re going to build in order to design the proper foundation.
To take this corollary further, a humble little house on a flat foundation (called slab-on-grade in the trade) is going to be a simple little plot with a simple structure.
A towering architectural masterpiece of a skyscraper is going to be a very intricate, detailed plot built on a super strong structure.
Neither building is going to stay standing if the proper foundation is missing.
In the same way, a writer can come up with the greatest plot ever but it’s not going to be well received if it isn’t shown with the right structure.
When I first started in construction management, I compared pouring concrete to baking a layer cake. Weird, but it worked. Today, I totally grasp all the pieces and parts needed to construct a concrete slab because of that analogy.
Analogies work for me.
I can visualize plot and structure easily when I make the comparison to building a house or high-rise. By creating an analogy that ties to my day-to-day, information that might otherwise confuse or overwhelm me becomes readily understood.
So I’m curious…what methods do you use to help make concepts easier to grasp?