Wednesday, March 14, 2007

More plot thoughts

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that some writer friends and I were having trouble with our largely emotion-based, rather than action-based, plots. This week, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein wrote a great blog post dealing with this very thing. Her responses in the comments give even more insights. (Boiling it down...try to include both kinds of plot.)

Last night, I caught the end of the movie Ghost World, which I'd seen before, on TV. The existence of that movie proves to me that you don't have to have much of a plot...and particularly not an action-based one...but then, you probably won't rack up huge sales figures, either. These days, it seems to be all about the plot, or the hook, so I think I'd better try some plottier stuff before I go too quiet or artsy! Anyway, Ghost World is an interesting movie for me, as the main character, Enid, is very much like Lydia, the main character in my YA Chasing Monday, while the subject matter--facing life after high school when you don't have a plan--is pretty much the theme of my YA Can't Beet It, though Ghost World is much darker and, I'm afraid, more stylish than either of my novels. Can't Beet It is a humor novel with a basically happy ending. Chasing Monday is a more typical high school story, and at least aiming for happiness at the end.

Ghost World, I realized, has sort of the same ending as the movie The Graduate, despite having little in common with it other than an originally aimless main character who just graduated. The Graduate, which we had to dissect endlessly in a college film class, was driven by the actions of the character Ben, who was literally going after (even speedily, racing his car down the freeway) what he'd decided he wanted. Enid is never sure what she wants and doesn't do much at all. In Ghost World, unlike The Graduate, what really happens at the end is open to different interpretations, yet the endings are very similar on a surface level. Interesting.

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