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April 2017

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The rockpile theory of plotting

When a character changes--the first time s/he does things differently--we want to witness it.  That's one reason we're reading.  Usually this change happens at the book's climax.

But that change has to make sense; it shouldn't come out of nowhere.  Even if we're not sure the character is really going to make this choice or take this action, we need to see the potential for the change. 

We don't just want to see the pebble drop that tips the scale.  We want to see the rocks pile up throughout the story.  We know it isn't just the last pebble that swings the balance; it's all the rocks that came before.  The rocks help build the inevitability of "surprising but inevitable" endings.

Comments

I like that analogy. I will keep it in mind as I pile up the rocks in my WIP.
To further complicate the plot, remove a rock from time to time! :-)
I like this rock piling way of plotting. It makes it seem simple -- even if for an instant, which is relief enough.

Back to lining up some rocks. Thanks, Jenn!
I like anything that seems to simplify the process!
So, what you're saying is that authors are essentially working on a chain gang . . .
That's one interpretation. :-)
"But that change has to make sense; it shouldn't come out of nowhere."

Along the same lines, I had an editor tell me I needed more of a catlyst, a reason for my character to have a change of heart.

Your rockpiling analogy is so true, and helpful for my own WIP. Thanks for the reminder. :)

~Della
~Della
Glad you found the image useful! :-)
Why does this post make me feel like Charlie Brown on Halloween 'I got a rock'

Sorry - Having a tough time being serious today. I get like that. Your post was stellar, as usual.
Since Charlie Brown gets a rock every year, he should be a heck of a writer by now. :-)
I love this. I usually talk about seeding an event, but I love the idea of dropping the pebbles to set the path.
The rockpile helps me feel like I'm building something.