Plot Is To House As Structure Is To Foundation

This book is fantastic!!

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?