Friday, December 5, 2008

Are You Pulling or Pushing Your Plot?

I’ve been noticing this contrast in many books I read and then compared my own work. As a writer, I’m more of a puller, whereas I like to read plots that are pushed.

Allow me to explain my thinking here.

Whether a story is propelled forward by characters or events, whether it’s a mystery, adventure, or love story, it is either being pulled or pushed. What I mean by this is that the reader is either being dragged through a series of events (pulled) without really understanding where its going or they are shoved through it (pushed) where you feel like you’re standing right next to the character as an active decision maker in the story.

The former situation tends to happen more with action oriented plots, where the character(s) have to respond to whatever is happening around them, while the latter usually occurs in character driven plots, where the character(s) make decisions that set events into motion. Mysteries can run either way, but I prefer the pushed ones, because then I feel that the character is being proactive and has some control over the situation. I would argue that no genre or category of stories is exclusively pulling or pushing, though they certainly tend to lean one way or the other,

I wouldn’t say that pushing is better than pulling, though I imagine some publishers and editors might. What about you? Do you have a preference as a reader? Do you find your writing falling steadily into one of these categories? Or – and it must be asked – is my rambling making no sense whatsoever? Haha.

In any case, it’s a thought that’s run through my weeble wobble head lately, along with methods of choosing which perspective each story ought to be told from (first, third, omniscient, limited…). But that’s a topic for another day…

For a quick update, I finished Ch 7 of Book B two nights ago, hacked and slashed a short story into prologue form (For Book C - OTS) last night, and outlined Book 2 (AUT) tonight. That’s what’s going on in my wonderful world of writing. I found the F2S round over at Miss Snark’s First Victim to be very helpful. If you haven’t been to Authoress’s blog, stumble on over there the next chance you get.

Okies, that’s enough for this girl. Time for bed.
(Don’t give me that strange look, I’m nocturnal!) :-)



Lady Glamis said...

So do you work during the day or night? I'm confused . . . :)

Pushing vs. Pulling. Huh.

Breakaway is a Pulling story, for sure, and Monarch is Pushing story.

More people seem to like Monarch - it's more action-oriented, like you say.

I think there's always both elements in any given piece of fiction, but the majority of what happens, will of course determine whether it is pushing or pulling.

Interesting way to put things...I like it! I'll be thinking of this often for the next few days, I am sure. :)

Anette J Kres said...

I work nights and sleep in the day. :-)