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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.


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Monday 9 November 2009
So how does a plot happen? Let’s look at a story. Cinderella. How does the story of Cinderella work as a plot? What are the factors which make us read it? It is a story of wrongful oppression but goodness triumphs. Character led We like Cinderella, we are distressed by her unhappiness, we want her to be happy right from the start. Contrast involves us. The stepmother and stepsisters are so horrid to her that we sympathise with her. There awfulness counterpoints how wonderful she is. Causality. One thing leading to another thus making something else happen. Cause and effect = plot. Cinderella is put upon and wants to go to the ball but too much work,no clothes and the spite of her sisters prevent it. The importance of the ball is that Prince Charming invites all the young women in his search for a bride. The arrival of her Godmother and the granting of her wishes enables her to go. Conflict = empowers plot. Conflict creates pace which powers the plot. Her stepmother and stepsisters are horrible to her . There is the worry that she may choose Buttons. Midnight looms and the reader fears she will not realise. The loss of the shoe. Will the Prince find the girl who owned the slipper? Surprise aids plot. Surprise adds pace which propels the plot. The unexpected arrival of the godmother. The turning of the pumpkin and mice into coach and horses. The changing of Cinder’s rags into a ball gown. The chimes of midnight. Sub-plots. If you think of the main plot as a maypole then the subplots are the ribbons twining around it. The Prince confides his concerns to Dandini. We become privy to his thoughts. Resolution.The shoe fits. They live happily ever after. Dangers that may occur: Balance of plot going awry. This can be particularly dangerous if you have a lot of subplots. it is easy to get carried away with a sub to the detriment of the main. Plot becoming static. This happens when there is a lack of pace – the engine which drives the plot along. Without pace then the writing slows, the sags begin. Plot becomes untenable – this can happen when there is too much pace and the outcome is disbelieve in the plot. Plot lines fizzling out. Again often occurs when you have too many subplots and you are at a loss to know where they are to go. It is also possible to have a minor plot line, so minor that you forget that it is there. Characters taking control. Characters can easily move you in directions you do not wish to go, then stop them. However, you would be wise to listen to them for they may be adding and not subtracting to the plot. A special warning is to try not to fit a character you happen to like into a plot to which they don’t really belong. for you risk it becoming unbelievable. Don’t forget the sheep. All plot lines have to be resolved one way or the other. Don’t leave them in limbo. Cinderella is a simple story but if you use this as a check list to your own WIP it might help you, I hope so.


  1. Thank you, that's really useful advice and seeing it broken down like that does help :o)

  2. Thank you so much for explaining this so well. I'm sure it will be very useful for me.

  3. Once again you make it simple!

  4. You are so clever. I will forever see my all my sub-plots as sheep now, bumbling along all woolly-minded and looking for a resolution.

  5. I have never thought of it like that before. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you - so clear and useful!
    Janice x