Since June I've been obsessed with plot. It consumes my thoughts and invades my dreams. Even my subconscious seems to follow a formulaic structure.

I've re-read PLOT VERSUS CHARACTER by Jeff Gerke at least three times in this last week alone. I was also told to watch Dan Well's Story Structure on YouTube.

I even went so far as to take a book I read recently and plot it according to both Jeff Gerke's chart and Dan Well's 7 steps of story structure. Then, I took my current WIP and  attempted to re-plot it the same way.

This was all done with the intention of strengthening my manuscript and finding the loopholes and cutting the superfluous.

Then, I came across this article as I was reading Nathan Bransford's blog.

It's interesting because my son watches Disney's Car's at least once a week and I'd even been thinking of that movie in terms of plot and structure to help my manuscript.

Now, what do I do? The idea of predictability crossed my mind, but I just thought I could throw a curveball in the sense that even though the reader would either consciously or unconsciously expect a plot twist or false victory that I could bring the surprise by making it unique.

After reading this article, I wonder if that is indeed enough. I do find that structure is good for me. I do like knowing when I'm dragging something out for too long or when I haven't given something enough attention. I think the best thing to do is follow the advise we hear from our mothers and doctors: "Everything in moderation."

The ideas and charts and outlines and formulas are helpful when it's time to organize thoughts, but it's not so helpful in the creative process.

How do you balance this? I think it's good to read prolifically. When you read a book you like, take note of what you liked so much. Map it out and see where and when things happen. Also, don't stick to a structure that doesn't flow organically.

I don't have the brilliance to reinvent the three act structure, so I will continue to rely on the established formulas, but I do hope that I can still write something entertaining and surprising.


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