The Master Plot today is: Pursuit
This is number 3 in our plot series. I bet you can name half a dozen movies with this plot. My favorite is, “Catch Me If You Can.” Not only is this movie based on a true story, but it had countless twist and turns and clever, eluding the good guys and hide from them some more, scenes.
So let’s examine the Pursuit plot. What does it entail? The chase, of course. This is a physical plot so the chase is more important than the characters and there must be real danger in the pursuit. The first thing you need to do as a writer is to set up the guidelines for the chase. You must tell the reader who is the villain and who is the hero, and why one is chasing the other. You must also establish the motivating incident. In the movie, the character of Leonardo De Caprio’s parents got a divorced.
In “Catch Me If You Can,” the hero is chasing the villain. There must be a reasonable chance that the character will get caught. It isn’t always the villain being chased, sometimes it’s the hero. Robin Hood comes to my mind. Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham are always trying to get Robin who is assisted by a gang of clever and unique bandits. We don’t want Robin to get caught.
The second aspect of the Pursuit plot is the chase itself. Open that bag of tricks. Make the chase as interesting as you can. Avoid clichés at all cost. I think that’s why I enjoyed, “Catch Me If You Can.” Who can forget Leonardo walking the halls of the airport with all those silly college girls and avoiding the FBI? Make a list of many different things that your character can do to avoid being caught and another list of ways the pursuer can think of to catch them.
The last act involves the resolution of the chase. The hero or the villain must be caught permanently. In the movie, “Catch Me If You Can,” this had an added twist of Leonardo’s character coming to work for the FBI.
This plot only needs two characters. But in my opinion, a cast of characters is more interesting. While this plot is not driven by your characters, you still need interesting characters. So build them with care and make your book stand apart from other Pursuit plots.
For more ideas and a better more in-depth description of this plot and others I recommend 20 Master Plots and how to build them, by Ronald B. Tobias.
Next week: Master Plot Rescue
Are you working on a Pursuit plot right now? Do you have a favorite Pursuit book or movie?