Film: A deeper look at plot

8 Apr

Image: ‘Portrait of Buzz’

One of the key elements of a narrative (story), a convincing plot can make or break a good story, whether a film or otherwise.

The Oxford dictionary defines plot as:

the main events of a play, novel, film, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.

Task: Copy this. 

New Concept

A plot is usually judged by how convincing (believable) it is, and can be judged by two criteria:

  • cause and effect – when the characters and “world” responds in a reasonably logical manner.
    • A break in cause and effect results in a Plot Hole
  • emotional motivation – when the characters emotional response is reasonable given the situation.

Task: Take notes on these main elements of plot. 


Review

Plot diagrams are useful for planning and showing a plot. Review the 5 elements of a plot: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, conclusion.

Task: Draw a plot diagram in your notebook and add the elements of plot. 


 Now lets do something with it

Plots tend to follow quite familiar patterns. The folks at tvtropes.org have begun categorising all the different types of plots evident across a range of different text types, and there are A LOT.

Browse through the list and have a look at some that seem familiar. These are some good plot patterns to start with:

Task: Find one that is familiar. Think of a novel, film, game or something else, that you have read that fits into this plot category. Write the entry for that text for tvtropes.org. 

Paperman (2012) follows the classic boy meets girl plot. This plot typically follows the pattern, “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl” (TVtrops.org). In this Disney film, the protagonist meets a girl on the train station when one of his work papers is blown onto her. She abruptly leaves on the next train, only to be rediscovered in the office across the street from the protagonist. Despite heroic attempts, he can’t get her attention again, until a little magic steps in to bring the lovers together again. 

Topic sentence  —  outline plot type  —  describe how the example fits the plot.

Task: Now use the plot diagram to create a story around that plot pattern. Remember, keep it creative. Although you are following a patter, your story still needs to be unique. 

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