Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is This Also About Plot? Or Am I Just Obsessed With That Element Of Fiction?

"'The basis of drama is ... is the struggle of the hero towards a specific goal at the end of which he realizes that what kept him from it was, in the lesser drama, civilization and, in the great drama, the discovery of something that he did not set out to discover but which can be seen retrospectively as inevitable.'" David Mamet in Lunch with David Mamet.

Perhaps you've heard that plotting scheme that involves giving a character something to want and then keeping it from her? I've heard it a lot, (and talked about it here frequently, too) and I've decided I don't like it. I don't think it's a method for creating a plot. I think it's more of a formula for a plot. And then there's the question of what character? And what do you give her to want? Where the hell is all that supposed to come from?

I like the idea of characters having goals, because I think it's more dynamic and provides some narrative drive right off the bat. And the quote above from David Mamet struck me, maybe because he used the word "goal." Though I question whether something always has to keep characters from achieving goals. Why can't the move from objective to objective toward the goal be a workable and dramatic plot?

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