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Writing Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson

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Chapter One

What Is Plot?

This is an example of what plot is not: “The king dies. The queen dies.”

This is an example of what plot is: “The king dies, and then the queen dies of grief.”1This example comes from novelist E.M. Forster.

What distinguishes the first example from the second? Sure, the first example tells the reader what happens and carries a certain dramatic flair because it involves death. It has dramatic action (the death) but no character emotional development and no thematic significance. Furthermore, “The king dies. The queen dies,” is episodic—there is no linkage between the two events, no cause and effect.

The second example demonstrates plot. That the queen dies from her grief over the king’s death signifies character emotional ...

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