why plot needs reader questions to be truly considered an interesting "plot"


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Thread: why plot needs reader questions to be truly considered an interesting "plot"

  1. #1

    why plot needs reader questions to be truly considered an interesting "plot"

    All your dramatic questions must have high stakes. They must connect to an audience's concerns, be they intellectual, emo-
    tional or spiritual. After all, why would audience members care about a dramatic question they wouldn't care about in real life? The
    unraveling of the mystery must matter to the audience. In some cases, the audience must even root for an answer or an outcome.

    The answer to a dramatic question for the audience and play's characters is a goal. And characters must pursue goals.


    Hamlet is the main character. The major dramatic question of the play is this: Will Hamlet prove Claudius guilt and avenge his
    father's death? The next most important questions are these: How will Hamlet prove this? And what precisely will he do when he
    does prove it? How will he overcome the obstacles Claudius puts in his way? Every time Hamlet acts to find the truth and solve
    the mystery, he comes into conflict with the other characters in the play. Their actions are designed to stop Hamlet from discover-
    ing the truth. His search for answers leads to conflict. And a conflict is the key human obstacle a character encounters as he acts
    to achieve his goal. The conflicts must also work hand-in-hand with the mysteries, or questions. Without conflict and obstacles,
    the answers to the questions will come too easily, the goals will be achieved too speedily, and the play will end too soon.


    from: The art and craft of playwriting by Jeffrey Hatcher.


    I read chapter one today and he raises some interesting points.

    Plot is creating by making the reader ask questions about what will happen in the story. Action causes another action to happen and so forth. That is cause and effect. It's not as important as mystery but the most interesting concept has got to be for me that suspense or questioning as he calls it creates reader interest. The more you prolong the answer to the question and the conflict will do that the more you will have the reader worried. By the character searching for the answer to multiple dramatic questions varied and interesting with something at stake the reader will begin to care. In Agatha Christies work the basic question to her work usually seems to be who did it? Will they strike again? Will they be stopped?

    Mystery is key for a reader to feel something he argues. If I wrote a story in which a bully is trying to humiliate someone. What if the stakes of the story suggests he will be a high school dropout if he thinks his books are being stolen to study and are needed pass his class? Will he be discovered for starting a fight to recover his study materials on the last day to study? Conflict by some definitions prevents and extends the dramatic question. It's really the goal he argues in the book by the character being motivated to act. When the character answers the question because of an action he did, that is how cause and effect is created and a plot moves according to him. Anyone of these are vital questions. Stakes creates sympathy.

    I will make an attempt at exploring mystery in this storyline. Maybe the above questions is the beginning of a plot for a story. The story questions are there that I created for story purposes. Any one of them could start a plot, and have smaller questions that need to be answered.

    For example will he be discovered for starting a fight? A way to question this is looking for an answer, to the plot related questions? Once you have the answer to the question the story ends. Just like in Hamlet the answer could be the bully must confess his guilt. But conflict gets in the way of him ever doing so. Maybe he is tricked by a lie into doing so. Or even better an event.

    All questions must have high stakes. In some of Shakespeare's plays for the opponents what is at stake is the throne.

    So you extend the plot by creating mystery, which is by his definition suspense. That's the main point he argues.

    I decided to share since I have nothing better to do right now and am reading the book to understand his opinions. Tomorrow hopefully I will be on chapter 2.

    He is a well known playwright. Or he was. This is considered a classic text on playwriting though I haven't finished it. By asking questions that create mystery will every time it helps you think of the plot and what your story might be about.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; October 24th, 2019 at 04:13 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
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  2. #2
    Yep this is something I know about but for some reason often overlook. I forget to give characters struggles, instead choosing to plop them into a wonderful world where everything is fine and everyone is incredibly middle-class and well-spoken.

    It's an issue.


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  3. #3
    Thanks. I am glad some found it was useful as a guide on how to handle the conflict's mystery. (corrected some facts about odepius rex in this post)

    Here's an example paraphrased and not quoted to help people get the point:
    I think he also means the questions must create intrigue. For example in oedepius's storyline. We don't know about his parentage and yet this is the conflict (important because by how the story ends and resolves). The prophecy says he is the cause of the plague and he will kill his father and marry his mother. This creates conflict indirectly and he wants to solve the mystery. Because oedepius is an oprhan, but it is never mentioned according to jeffrey hatcher. The prophecy said he started the plague that is ruining the kingdom and that he will murder someone in his family. Which the answer is towards the end of the story that yes he does. And then we get the ending that everyone knows about (since it is a well known greek play and tragedy). He realizes he killed his own father and the prophecy became true. He is also trying to solve the plague's problem but made it worse. While I never read the play. It seems he ruins the kingdom because of something terrible he did. He thinks he is a know-it-all. He is intelligent and stubborn but that is his flaw.

    By trying to connect the conflicts to the mystery, that question as mentioned. You can make readers care. I don't know how to articulate it better than author however I think he explained it well in the quote.

    He wrote that all stories are mysteries.
    Last edited by Theglasshouse; October 24th, 2019 at 05:24 PM.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.
    The most difficult thing for a writer to comprehend is to experience silence, so speak up. (quoted from a member)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Yep this is something I know about but for some reason often overlook. I forget to give characters struggles, instead choosing to plop them into a wonderful world where everything is fine and everyone is incredibly middle-class and well-spoken.

    It's an issue.
    I find myself in the same dilemma quite often. I'm a terrible plotter and I tend to focus instead on character to make up for it. But reading this post kind of puts into perspective that character and plot are integral to the other's existence. I always try to remember the old trope, "Tie your character to a tree and throw stones at 'em."
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