Romance Plot Exercise – The Story within the Story
Time: 30-45 minutes
Action Step #1 – In life, plot abounds. You carry around with you the sum total of all your experiences. Each day yields more experience to drive your actions. For actors, plot answers the question, “What is my motivation?”
Without plot, you are simply retelling a series of events. That’s boring and it never happens that way in life. Plot is revealing, piece by piece, the reasons behind the actions of the characters. With any story, there are always events that have occurred “off camera” so to speak.
Try this exercise. Your character has been in jail for the last 10 years and is newly released. He goes into a department store. Describe his time in the store picking out and trying on clothes. Avoid directly saying that he is an ex-con or the jig is up with the reader.
Action Step #2 – Are you working on a story right now? If not, look back at past stories that you have written. Is there a definite plot? Does the story invite you to keep reading in anticipation of finding out what you want to know about the characters’ past?
Take one of your stories and work on the plot. This might involve rewriting scenes to sound more mysterious.
Action Step #3 – Just like any writing tool, it can be overdone. Read the following passage that reflects plot gone wild.
I wanted to join in the conversation, express my views, but considering where I’d been, they might not welcome me. After all, who would? I tried to do what I thought was right, but Irene didn’t see it that way. I noticed the scuff marks on my thrift store shoes as I stood to leave. They were a dead giveaway.
Now, read the same passage but with more information and still the necessary plot lines.
I wanted to join in the conversation, express my views, but considering where I’d been, they might not welcome me. Going to jail for a principle was still going to jail to most people in small towns. My sister Irene was among them. I just wanted to wipe the last two years off of me, starting with the thrift store shoes I had been issued that very morning.
Create your own overdone scene. Then rewrite it.