Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

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  • #61
    Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

    Originally posted by figment View Post
    the way he describes "Narration" he actually is talking about the "plot."
    Agree.

    Originally posted by bjamin View Post
    a good story can exist w/o plot.
    Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
    I agree that movies without a plot are made.
    Impossible.

    Without plot, you can't resolve change, theme, even conflict.

    At the very least, to suggest there is no plot is to suggest that these things don't exist either.


    Originally posted by bjamin View Post
    here's a list of some flicks you can check out... https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...without%20plot
    All of those movies have a plot.
    Story Structure 1
    Story Structure 2
    Story Structure 3

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    • #62
      Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

      Originally posted by bjamin View Post
      true, i was speaking in terms of film. but isn't a movie a story told using moving pics?
      A movie can be defined as a kind of visual communication used to tell a story, or to inform, or to display events with moving pictures and sound. Not all movies are stories,

      If your intention is strictly to inform or display events you don't need to create a story, along with its characters and plot. Many educational films and documentaries don't have stories.

      It seems to me that King is saying he doesn't plot out his stories, but somehow during the process of writing, a plot arises. If he ends up with a plotless series of chapters, he doesn't have a story.

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      • #63
        Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

        From what I remember from the book, King says the plot is there already he must uncover it during the writing. He doesn't look at it like he has to 'make up' a plot, to him the plot is there already, but it is buried in the story somewhere. He must find it and bring it to the surface.

        Anyone with a few bucks and local distribution can make anything they want, so could any indie studio. Does a bad movie with no plot prove that movies can be made with no plot?

        When we talk movies and screenwriting aren't we talking about Hollywood? Aren't we talking about the movies that are released in the theatres throughout the year? It doesn't matter that some movie that had no plot made no money and went right to DVD. It doesn't prove or disprove anything to me.

        Stories involve the most exciting, or depressing, or meaningful moments in the Character's life. There's no escaping that. If your characters life isn't that exciting or that depressing or that meaningful, then no one will read it, and it wouldn't have to be read. The three act structure lets you know where you need to be at what point in the script? Without keeping your eye on that, your script will lag and it will not move as fast as it needs too, even if you think things are happening, to the reader they will be saying, 'Why isn't anything happening'? You get 25% of the story to set up the dramatic argument. Any more than that and you lose the viewer/reader. The plot must be complicated/changed/reversed around the 50% point. Without this your dramatic argument will grow stale and old. At the 75% point you need a moment where it looks as though the hero is on the ropes or even failed. If you don't have this, then there can be no big triumphant ending. At the 100% point you need a scene that brings it all together and finally answers the dramatic argument in a very unique yet satisfying way. Without this scene the audience will NOT like your movie.

        Now, King says, he doesn't just make things up and solidify in stone these moments before he starts. He says, hey, I know I need these scenes/moments, I know they exist somewhere in the story I better get digging.

        Concept is the real key. The three act structure is not the do or die to the script. The concept is. What was the last amateur script you read that had a real interesting dramatic argument that that made you laugh, surprised you, kept you tense?
        Last edited by Cyfress; 01-11-2017, 07:16 PM.

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        • #64
          Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

          Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
          From what I remember from the book, King says the plot is there already he must uncover it during the writing. He doesn't look at it like he has to 'make up' a plot, to him the plot is there already, but it is buried in the story somewhere. He must find it and bring it to the surface.
          .................
          .......Now, King says, he doesn't just make things up and solidify in stone these moments before he starts. He says, hey, I know I need these scenes/moments, I know they exist somewhere in the story I better get digging.
          Sounds like King realizes a plot is necessary and does incorporate a plot in his novels. But rather than outline before beginning to write, complete with plot and plot points, he has only an idea of the characters he wants to write about and what he wants them to experience.

          So he begins writing without an outline and without a plot. Does he know where he wants them to end up? At some point, after he has written a number of scenes and moments, he "discovers- the plot.

          I would think that eventually he must decide which scenes and moments fit into the plot that has emerged, and he must eliminate those that don't fit in the plot.

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          • #65
            Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

            It's important to be flexible and not get married to anything. Discovery is a big part of the process.

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            • #66
              Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

              Originally posted by Cyfress View Post
              It's important to be flexible and not get married to anything. Discovery is a big part of the process.
              Right. If, unlike King, you begin with a plot and an outline, you may discover during the writing process the plot and outline your worked on so hard isn't working. You may need to scrap the plot outline or revamp it in order to write the story you want.

              Maybe King's creative process is a better way to go.

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              • #67
                Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                Everyone starts somewhere. Things change, and from what I understand, they often do. I remember reading an Interview with M. Night right after the commercial success of Sixth Sense. He said he wrote 7 drafts of the script and the big twist at the end didn't come to him until the last one.

                He said when he started writing draft 1, Malcolm Crowe was a Detective who had this son who saw the Ghosts of unsolved homicides. Look at where he ended up: Malcolm Crowe is now a child psychologist who treats a boy who claims to see Ghosts. Some things are different. Some are the same.

                He didn't stick to his first generation outline, he found something better and he went for it. Trashing all those great scenes that existed under the old plot.

                I agree that one huge issue with amateurs is that they have no idea on how to develop material. People rather keep their plot and try to stick square pegs into round holes.

                What amateur is going to change direction 4 drafts in? They don't wanna change direction after one draft. Good writers get deep into the material. So much so, that they can lead any person by the nose like God because they just know the story inside and out.

                What keeps someone from building up their development skills? They don't listen to that voice inside, or they ignore advice that rings true. Their self editor is not good either. They can not, in any way, edit their own work. They can't tell when they are coming on too strong, or being too subtle. Scenes are long and don't ping-pong beats back and forth from character to character.

                That's why as soon as you have one of those 'slow down' scenes where you are two characters standing around talking about plot or backstory. We all can recognize them in the scripts of others, but yet are so blinded by them all in our scripts. As soon as you have one of those scenes, down your script will go. Any editor that let that scene through, will only let through more of the same later. That's an easy catch. Sticks out like a sore thumb in the work of others, yet is a chameleon to us in our own work. Some people never see it. What is it? It is the fact that you are completely fooling yourself if you think you can compete on a professional writing level. Until you see it, you'll never do better because you have no idea what better is.

                How many times have you pointed out one of those amateurish scenes in another's script only to have them say, "No, you don't understand, I need this scene cause later on...blah blah blah". They don't see it. Once you see it, now you can do something about it if you want to.

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                • #68
                  Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                  Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                  Maybe King's creative process is a better way to go.
                  Nah. I'll go with what Bill Martell said at the beginning of the thread:

                  Originally posted by wcmartell View Post
                  I stopped reading him when it became clear that he was making crap up as he went along and ended some book by just having it rain refrigerators and small appliances... which had nothing to do with the story.

                  - Bill
                  The plot is the entire sequence of events that happens in a story. Every story has a plot. Even bad ones.

                  If you outline a story that has already been completed, what does the sequence of events look like? Are the events connected? Or does random **** just happen from one scene or chapter to the next? If the events are connected, is there any meaning to them? And if there is meaning, did the characters succeed or fail due to their own actions, or because the gods or some contrived aid came to their rescue?

                  At best, a writer who doesn't know where his or her story is going may stick the landing in an inordinate amount of time, which sometimes happens in novels, but is not very useful in screenwriting. At worst--and this is the vast majority of cases--the writer will fly around in circles, never find the destination, and just say **** it and crash their story into the ground with the most ridiculous and nonsensical ending possible.

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                  • #69
                    Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                    Your indignation at King would be justified if he sent first drafts of blabber away to the publishing house.

                    But no, he does rewrite, at least that's what he says in the book as far as I can remember.

                    It is a longer but more adventurous and organic process by outlining through writing the thing itself instead of a separate bullet point list or whatever. And then you change a lot of stuff that doesn't fit what you've discovered the story to be.

                    I had terrible time outlining my new spec, I could feel my brain boiling and steam coming out of my ears. I was stuck plotting for two months. I found salvation in just writing the plot as if it was a short story, along with purple prose and all that. I could finally get a feel of the emotional & dramatic arch.

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                    • #70
                      Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                      Dramatic arch

                      Mathematical arc

                      Story arc

                      Diegesis and Mimesis

                      Final plot
                      Last edited by TigerFang; 01-14-2017, 06:21 AM.
                      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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                      • #71
                        Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                        I mean, do you really think the amateur problem is that they are 'writing in circles'? That's not it at all. Its that they don't write enough.

                        Here's the catch 22 of getting educated in the craft. When you know little to nothing about the craft, and all you know is that this desire is in you to tell this story that's been bubbling in your head. So you start writing, and you just write on pure passion and dreams and the editor in you is off because you are not even aware of the fact that what you are writing is not something that's tight and clean. Remember when you first started writing and you would have those 30 page days at the computer? Just giving yourself free reign to move the story along.

                        Now, all of a sudden you start educating yourself a little bit on the craft. Reading scripts. Reading Books. Taking a class. You start picking up on techniques for story building and character depth. You start paying attention as to how to portray the human condition with the written word. Now, try to write thirty pages in a day. Can't? Tough to do? Down right frustrating? You my friend are now writing with your editor turned on.

                        I remember reading an interview with George Lucas where he was asked about writing the first Star Wars. He said one of his stead fast rules for him was that he had to write the first draft with the editor turned off. You have to give yourself that draft to just get the story down on paper without being critical of every word and scene choice.

                        Amateurs struggle because they think they either are doing 'good enough' work' or they just stick with their same method for scriptwriting even though it produces junk.

                        Writing is in the rewriting. There's no escaping it. And no one hits a homerun every time. Every great screenwriter has their clunkers, which means this must be really tough to do. A clunker for a pro is different than an amateur. A clunker for a pro doesn't mean the script is filled with long winded scenes with backstory talk. A clunker for the pro means hat no one had that emotional resonance with the hero, or the plot never fulfills its potential. A clunker for an amateur means the screenplay is a mess craftsmanship wise.

                        I remember watching a John Truby youtube video where he said there are over 100 story techniques that if you do not know tthem then you cannot write a good script. I thought to myself, 'Jesus, there's no way I know what all of them are either'.

                        What an interesting experiment it would be to split screen the screenwriting 'process' of an amateur and a pro. What are they doing when working? How much time are they spending each time?

                        I'd bet those routines would look wildly different. It would look like Michael Jordan playing one on one vs a coach potato NBA fan.

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                        • #72
                          Re: Stephen King "On Writing" -- no plot

                          Originally posted by goldmund View Post
                          It is a longer but more adventurous and organic process by outlining through writing the thing itself instead of a separate bullet point list or whatever. And then you change a lot of stuff that doesn't fit what you've discovered the story to be.

                          I had terrible time outlining my new spec, I could feel my brain boiling and steam coming out of my ears. I was stuck plotting for two months. I found salvation in just writing the plot as if it was a short story, along with purple prose and all that. I could finally get a feel of the emotional & dramatic arch.
                          It sounds like you really did create a rough plot before you began to write the details of your story. All that brain boiling and steam generation gave you a rough outline of your plot, an idea of where you wanted your story to go. You had a general idea of where you wanted to go before you began "writing".

                          I wonder how many writers create detailed plot outlines, down to scene outlines, before they begin writing.

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