Monday, October 17, 2011

Plot: Ascension and Descension

This post concludes my study of plot. If you wish to reexamine any of the plot post you can find the links at the bottom of my blog under plot. One thing that we have learned overall is that a plot drives your story like a road map. The plot defines if the driver is action, event, or any number of things or if the driver is the character, better known as character driven. For the two plots, ascension and descension we will study characters. In these plots it is your job to introduce your character and allow the reader to know them before the events of the plot kick in to either make them heroes or villains.

Ascension and descension are opposites in every way. Ascension introduces a character that is either deformed in some way yet ordinary on the inside or is ordinary and will make extra ordinary choices by the end of the book. Think about a monster, visually gross on the outside, someone we wouldn't want to get to know, someone that is certainly stereo typed yet when the reader, through the eyes of another character, gets to know this person realizes that; hay, this is a wonderful person. Think, The Elephant Man by Sir Frederick Treves, or The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo and others. For an example of the ordinary character we can study, The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy. I must confess that I haven't read this story so I am going on Tobias description entirely. I am so impressed however, that I plan to make this a must read. We meet Ivan at his funeral and learn that he is an ordinary man through the dialogue of the other characters who are not so sympathetic to Ivan. Again, I haven't read this. What draws me to this story is that he is ordinary. My favorite characters are as real as I can make them plus whatever talent or circumstance I can devise to make them great. Psychology is a good place to start when developing characters.

In descension we have the ordinary character usually who is faced with an extraordinary event that changes him or her for the worse. Once again, you must introduce us to the character so we see them before the event. Often times the event is greed, like winning the lottery or coming into some money. It may be that the character spends a lifetime in a job or marriage and becomes disillusioned to the point of doing the wrong thing. Money and power are the greatest forces of corruption that we know of. Most of these stories have one or both at the center of your characters downfall.

In both plots you are dealing with human psychology and it is all the more important for you to have a goal for your characters and a message that you want to drive home. How does the character respond to the forces around him or her.

As with all other plots there are three acts.
1. We meet the character before the big change.
2. We experience the change with the character. It may be immediate or gradual.
3. Your character overcomes or is overcome by his or her flaw.

In both cases, what is the purpose of the story? What do you as a writer want to say about life? Can we control our fate to create a better future or does greed, power, wealth get the better of us?

In both these plots, your character is the central focus. All other characters are drawn into the plot by him and react to circumstances because of him. For better or worse, give the reader a strong, forceful character. Even the ordinary man cannot remain so under these two plots.

For a further study of this plot and others I recommend, 20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias. It is a great read, as I have taken from this book for all these post.

Next week I will start a new series based on the things we should all learn about writing. If you need further help, I am offering classes for just $25.00. Each class will study various writing techniques plus a critique of your work. Go to my other blog, The Writing Craft to learn more.

I hope you all enjoyed this series.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've enjoyed this series, Nancy!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you Alex.

Carolyn V said...

Great info. Thanks Nancy!

Bish Denham said...

This has been a great series. Thanks!

N. R. Williams said...

Thank you back Carolyn and Bish.

The Golden Eagle said...

I have yet to write a story that plays on human psychology so strongly; I'll have to keep ascension and descension in mind.

This was an excellent series.

Nas Dean said...

Great information and tips. Thanks, Nancy!

N. R. Williams said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the series Golden.

Thank you Nas.

I appreciate both your comments.

Summer Ross said...

Thank you for the information. I'll have to work on this I think as characters are my weak point.

L'Aussie said...

Nancy, hi. This has been a wonderful series. I haven't read all of the posts but I know where to come when I want more! Probably revisit during NaNo when I'm looking for inspiration.

Thanks again. Denise :)

N. R. Williams said...

Thanks Denise. It's been a pleasure to write about plot for all this time.

Southpaw said...

This has been a great series and one we can all keep referring back too. Thank you so much!

Riya said...

Thanks for sharing such great writing craft information. I'm bookmarking this for future reference.

Mike Ruchhoeft said...

Good post. Thanks for taking the time to lay all that out.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Holly. I'm glad you liked this series.

Bookmarking Riya, I am honored.

Your welcome Mike.

Thank you all for your comments, I appreciate each one.

N. R. Williams said...

Summer...found you in spam. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad I could help.'Nancy