Plot—A Revelation

June’s The Writer magazine featured a series of articles on plot.

In school we teach students about plot, explaining such terms as “inciting incident,” “rising action,” “resolution” or—for those who trust their French accents “denouement.” And we insist the story must have a problem (or “conflict” for those of who like to talk in English major speak).

One article, “Artful Revelations” by Jordan E. Rosenfeld looked at plot from a different perspective, examining the revelations an author makes as the story moves along.

Working in partnership with the inciting incident, Rosenfeld identifies an “initial revelation.” Just as with the inciting incident, once this information is revealed, the main character is launched into action and a story follows.

Rosenfeld talks about further revelations that make it impossible for the main character to turn back or even to the side, or that draw him or her deeper into trouble, fitting the pacing of these revelations to traditional 3 Act theory.

The article was a good reminder that a plot is more than action. A good plot not only catapult’s a character into action, but keeps them moving with ever-increasing stakes toward a final, unavoidable resolution, and the carefully paced information an author releases to his or her reader can propel and deepen the storyline so that maybe, just maybe that reader won’t be able to put the book down until “The End.”