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The Mechanics of Fiction Writing

Click on thumbnails for video lecture links:

Lesson 3.
The Plot: A Primer

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A brief explanation of why the word "plot" is both nearly impossible to define and very rarely talked about with the kind of precision necessary to be useful to writers looking to sharpen their understanding of this critical element of fiction.

Lesson 4.
A Dynamic Storyworld

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There's a simple grammatical distinction that acts as the "play" button in written fiction. We'll briefly cover that here so that you know exactly when and how you're hitting the play button and the pause button for your readers.

Lesson 5.
Changes of State
Part I

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Stories can change in an infinite number of possible ways. Here, we discuss the ways the story imposes on the characters. Things like wars, floods, pandemics, and maybe even alien invasions—events like these force your characters to react in different ways depending on the nature of each situation.

Lesson 6.
Changes of State
Part II

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Characters too can change the state of the storyworld. In this lesson, we'll discuss both the actions characters make to change the story and how the motivations behind these actions make the story believable and comprehensible to the reader.

Lesson 7.
What Changes Are Interesting?
(And Why)

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Some events are exciting, and some are totally mundane. Figuring out why certain events catch interest and others bore readers is vital for any fiction writer who aspires to be read. Here, we'll cover the sixteen Magnetic Plot Elements that reliably generate suspense and why they do. The short answer is that we're wired to pay attention to the things that matter.

Lesson 8.
Suspense
(Or Cognitive Magnetism)

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What emotion lies at the heart of every fictional story? Suspense, of course. But is suspense even an emotion, and surely it isn't at the heart of a love story, is it? Yes, and yes. It's also at the root of every mystery, thriller, quest, coming-of-age story, rags-to-riches or downfall narrative, and every other story you can imagine. Here, we'll discuss what suspense really is, and why we need to have at least a little of it on every page.

Lesson 9.
A Plot or Not:
Grammatical Stories

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Introducing suspense is what gets your reader interested in your story. How does a writer keep them, though? The answer lies in crafting plots that manage suspense in a specific, grammatical manner. Here, you'll learn the underlying structure of every plot and that Rowe knows a lot more about plot than banyans, bananas, and chimps.

Lesson 10.
The Plot Thickens
(Because of Course It Does)

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One plot structure is responsible for every story you know. But how does this one plot structure morph into all the complex and diverse stories you know? With a few simple underlying rules—just as with language, biology, and mathematics—infinite complexity is produced.

Lesson 11.
Possible Worlds,
Dilemma & Conflict

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Plot and character are often thought of as separate facets of fiction. This is never the case, but it's particularly never the case with two of the most magnetic plot elements—dilemma and conflict.

Lesson 12.
Time: Order

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The order the narrator relates the events in the story is an often overlooked element of plot. There are good reasons to break from traditional linear narratives, and we'll cover many of these reasons here.

Lesson 13.
Time: Duration

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"Showing" versus "telling" and scene versus summary is often discussed by writers, but rarely do writers talk exactly about what makes a scene a scene and a summary a summary. Here, we'll get precise about the most important distinction in portraying time on the page—Duration.

Lesson 14.
Putting It All Together

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Now it should be clear that "plot" is a lot more things than most writers probably think it is. Perhaps the best way to understand plot, with our new tools in hand, is to deconstruct the plots of great writers and see how they make their fiction go.

 

If you are finding these lectures helpful, please consider supporting RoweLit by purchasing the series companion from Rowe's online bookstore (linked on the right) or by donating to the site directly.

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