Monday, March 7, 2011

Pursuit Plot

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.

Amazon link.

Next week: Master Plot Rescue

Are you working on a Pursuit plot right now? Do you have a favorite Pursuit book or movie?


Elaine AM Smith said...

I agree, Catch me if you can was a great movie. But it was the key relationship that made it.
That monster Master Plot books sounds like a great tip. :)

Joanne said...

I don't write pursuit plots, but when I read or watch them, I do find that they have a great, underlying energy to them.

Jules said...

Why yes I am. I am working on the pursuit of employment :) Believe me it has become a marathon.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Carol Kilgore said...

I like these plot Mondays.

N. R. Williams said...

I agree with you, Elaine.

I don't write them either, Joanne.

LOL Jules, I thought you snagged a job?

Thank you Carol.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I don't write pursuit plots either but admire those who do.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seems like this works best for mysteries and thrillers, and maybe a good adventure story.

N. R. Williams said...

I don't write them either, L. Diane and agree with you. Those who do are talented individuals.

Hi Alex, you're right.

Thank you both.

dr3am3r said...

hmmm. i like this. i've never considered before the importance of this type of plot. perhaps, because it's the frightening dream sequence of being chased.

N. R. Williams said...

Yeah, that is a scary dream.

Colene Murphy said...

Oh! Awesome breakdown of writing the chase. Always loved those plots, but don't think I'm clever enough to write them that well. And now I want to watch Catch Me If You Can again. It's been a long time!

Holly Ruggiero said...

Nice explanation of the "pursuit."

L'Aussie said...

This is good. Your Plot series should be linked to the Writers Knowledge Base so everyone can read it.


Dominic de Mattos said...

Interesting. Do you think a story is better if it stays nice and cleanly in one type of plot, rather than straying across plot boundaries, mixing a bit of pursuit here with a quest there etc?

Thanks for sharing


N. R. Williams said...

I'd like to watch it again too, Colene.

Thank you, Holly

I'm honored, Denise.

Yes I do think that plots can overlap, Dom. As I read the book I have noticed this regularly.

Thanks everyone for leaving a comment.

DEZMOND said...

my favourite pursuit would be a pursuit of love :)

Aisha said...

Making a pursuit-plot based work and avoiding cliche is one of the most challenging things I can imagine- Catch me, is an exception to the norm for sure!

Bookblogger said...

Not being I writer I often find that I don't really have anything relevant to say to your posts, but I want to say that I do enjoy reading them. Also I am still working on getting a good review written on your book. This weekend was craziness.

N. R. Williams said...

I agree with you Dezmond.

Good point Aisha.

Thank you for reading and commenting Scott and for the update, I appreciate it.


Clarissa Draper said...

That's a great example. I love the chases where they finally catch them and then they escape or get away. I love 'The Princess Bride' and 'The Fugitive.'

N. R. Williams said...

Great examples Clarissa. I love those movies too.

Misha said...

I also liked Catch Me If You Can.

But my favorite chase movie is The Fugitive with Harrison Ford.