Progressive Plot Appreciations

The structure of a Grand Argument Story can be thought of a house the characters need to explore. The Objective Characters will be looking for clues to a treasure. The Main Character is thinking of buying the house and the Obstacle Character is trying to sell it to him. The plot is like a sight-seeing tour through this story house. The house itself has three floors each of which is separated into two wings. Each wing has four rooms. This is like a story with three acts, each of which is separated into two sequences, each of which has four scenes.

Our characters begin on the ground floor and enter the first room in the first wing. This room is like the first scene in the first sequence (wing) of the first act (floor) of the story. Here, they look around, opening drawers, checking under the furniture and peering out the windows, if any. Each little area of investigation is an event in the first scene.

The Objective Characters are trying to discover a treasure map. The Main Character is looking for termites and problem plumbing and the Obstacle Character is pointing out the conveniences. When they have all finished, they have a pretty good idea about the value of this room, either as a source of clues to the treasure or as a place to live. Still, they have learned all they can here, and it is time to move on.

The characters now enter a second room, which is still in the same wing on the same floor. This is like the second scene in the first sequence (wing) in the first act (floor). Again, they investigate. They may find this room to be geared more to function than the last. Or, it might be designed more for entertainment. It may or may not have windows or more than one doorway to other rooms. In fact, part of the interest (and possibly suspense) for them is which room they will be taken to visit next.

When they have fully explored four rooms (scenes), it is time to move on to the next wing (sequence). One of the rules of our tour is that the characters cannot leave a room (scene) until it is fully explored, cannot leave a wing (sequence) until all the rooms (scenes) on that floor of the wing have been explored, and cannot leave a floor (act) until all the rooms (scenes) on that floor in both wings (sequences) have been explored.

In the second wing, our characters also find four rooms and explore them one after another. Once they have finished, the entire first floor (act) has been examined in its entirety. Now it is time to go up to the next floor and continue their tour of the house. On the second floor they look through the four rooms in the first wing, the four in the second, and thereby complete that level and move up one more to the third and final floor. Here they repeat the same procedure until, at last, the entire house has been fully explored.

At this point, the characters have gathered all the information they are going to be given about the house. If the Objective Characters have gather enough clues to find the treasure, their problem is solved. If the Main Character buys the house, he is a change character. The question then remains, is he solving his problem of having a place to live or buying into even more problems with the faulty plumbing.

We can see that the Main Character's decision is based partly on what was in the house and partly on the order in which things were presented. We all know that first impressions are powerful, even if they are later proven to be inaccurate. How the Main Character decides must conform to the combination of both these influences.

Similarly, the order in which the Objective Characters gather clues will have an influence on whether they are able to put the pieces together or not. Assumptions can easily be made that would not have been made if the information was presented in a different order.

In the end, an audience will reject our story's argument either if there are rooms missing (static) or if they are visited in an order that doesn't reflect the outcome (progressive). It is important, therefore, to pay as much attention to the Progressive Plot Appreciations as the Static ones. Because Acts are the largest resolution of the Progressive Appreciations they have the greatest influence on the flow of a story's plot, and therefore deserve significant attention.

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