There are only two plots, or: How to have an existential crisis in writing - Page 6


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Thread: There are only two plots, or: How to have an existential crisis in writing

  1. #51
    Why must people depend on aphorisms? It's just overthink.
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    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by moderan View Post
    Why must people depend on aphorisms? It's just overthink.
    But it's a great way to keep from actually writing!!!
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  3. #53
    Oh right. I forgot! The chief aim of writing is avoiding writing!
    In all circumstances, I advocate butt-in-chair. It's far easier to actually write when you are prepared to, and my ass is conditioned to start creating clouds when I sit it down. Balaam calls it Pavlov's Ass, but it works.
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    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by moderan View Post
    Oh right. I forgot! The chief aim of writing is avoiding writing!
    In all circumstances, I advocate butt-in-chair. It's far easier to actually write when you are prepared to, and my ass is conditioned to start creating clouds when I sit it down. Balaam calls it Pavlov's Ass, but it works.
    Let's hope it doesn't start salivating (is that another aphorism?)


  5. #55
    Rings a bell.
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    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  6. #56
    Hidden Content
    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  7. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by VonBradstein View Post
    Generally attributed to Tolstoy or Dostoevsky, but actually the genius of John Gardner...

    "There are only two plots in all of literature: 1) A person goes on a journey. 2) A stranger comes to town."

    Since hearing this some years ago this evil piece of wisdom comes back to haunt me at least once-for-ten-seconds every time I read anything new and I have yet to find any work that cannot be covered by one of the two Gardner plots. Even the most original ideas are actually just those with unusual takes on one or more of 'person', 'goes', 'journey', 'stranger', comes' and 'town' and so the basic concept prevails. And, of course, there are an abundance of great novels out there which are literally just either about journeys or strangers-in-towns...

    So what do you think? Are we all doomed to run on hamster wheels within Gardner's Newtonian laws? Is there any work out there that cannot be fit into one of the two? Is it possible?

    I appreciate the view that it does not matter & that a good book is a good book no matter how conventional it is or is not, so really no need to weigh in with that view - I suspect you would be preaching to the choir. This post is simply to discuss whether Gardner has been or could ever be proven incorrect in his hypothesis and what that might look like. Ultimately I think it is interesting (though not necessarily healthy) for every writer to know what, if any, rules exist when it comes to storytelling.
    I've read this two, about there only being two kinds. As to these two types being conventional, I think you could still write a very unconventional story, whether a stranger comes to town or a hero goes on a journey. As for if Gardner was incorrect, there are lots of types of stories, but I suppose every one of them, either has a stranger come to town, or a hero goes on a journey. Unless anyone can name a story where neither of these two things happen?

  8. #58
    Stop torturing your syntax and send your grammar home to bake cookies. Please.
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    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  9. #59
    An interesting article in which the word plot does not seem to occur, deliberately I'm supposing, as every imaginable synonym for it is therein discovered. My position is that that's because the word plot most properly defined is an outline device of fiction writers which orders the particular incidents of the unique work they're composing. The rest of this is semantics mostly.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  10. #60
    Mentor Megan Pearson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    I've read this two, about there only being two kinds. As to these two types being conventional, I think you could still write a very unconventional story, whether a stranger comes to town or a hero goes on a journey. As for if Gardner was incorrect, there are lots of types of stories, but I suppose every one of them, either has a stranger come to town, or a hero goes on a journey. Unless anyone can name a story where neither of these two things happen?
    Isn't this saying the same thing? Coming or going, known or unknown, it's all stated in relation to the setting. Kind of like John Stienbeck's...(err! can't remember the title, that short piece where the business man from the city settles in the country, raises a boy who then goes off to the city?)

    I think Olly nailed the ultimate in stories where neither of these these things happen. I'll just repeat Jane Austen here to help with her publicity. (LOL!)
    "A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
    ~ John A. Shedd


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