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June 05, 2007

Writing and Healing Idea #39: Changing the Plot

This idea springs out of the previous post and from E.M. Forster’s distinction between story and plot.
Story: The king dies and then the queen dies.
Plot: The king dies, and then the queen dies of grief.

You can begin by choosing five moments—from your life—from someone else’s life—or you can make them up. Or you can, if you like, write about the king and the queen.

Draw the moments as plot points on a piece of paper.
For instance:
• THE KING DIES.
• THE QUEEN DIES.

Then, begin to play with connecting the points—and reconnecting them—in new ways.
Write about the connections.
Write different plots. Different ways that the dots get connected.
If possible, make the plot mildly ludicrous, improbable—this itself a way of stretching the mind to imagine new possibilities.

Write new points.

Here, for instance, is one way—an alternative way—of connecting the two plot points about the king and the queen.
• The king dies.
• The queen dies, under mysterious circumstances.
• The prince, their son, wants to believe his mother died of grief. (It’s so much harder to accept, sometimes, that death---it just happens---accidents and illness---mysteries----)
• The queen returns in her next life as a fish.
• The prince meets this fish one day when he’s out on a boat and she jumps up out of the water next to his boat.
• The fish speaks.
• And she tells him-----

What? What does she tell him?