Writers Network Meeting
November 5, 2021
10 to 11 a.m.
One-hour Zoom meeting
University of the Pacific Writing Professor, Author and Editor
“Plot Flows from Character”
There are two kinds of plots: Contrived and Organic. The contrived plot is imposed upon the
characters. Most disaster movies use this type of plot. A bunch of random characters are
forced to deal with some kind of disaster—a forest fire, a flood, the destruction of the earth by
an asteroid (Independence Day, 2012, Day After Tomorrow). While such stories can be
entertaining, they are rarely enduring because the characters are usually not fully developed
and they have little control over their fates. Often, stock characters are used. These characters
contribute little—they are like stage props
The organic plot grows out of the main characters’ traits, and the characters’ strengths and
weaknesses cause events to take place. Thus, the characters have much more influence over
the events of the story (whether they realize it or not), so the plot is less predictable and,
consequently, more satisfying (Hamlet, The Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird).
In this presentation, you will learn:
- The difference between contrived and organic plots.
- How to create main characters that are “round” instead of “flat”.
- How your characters can grow and change as a result of the choices they make and the events they cause and/or experience.
- How to create surprises and less predictable storylines, making the plot more satisfying to readers.
- When and how to use stock characters, versus unique individuals whom you can bring into your stories.
Scott Evans has taught writing at the University of the Pacific for over 25 years. He is the author of three “literary” murder mysteries titled Tragic Flaws, First Folio, and Sylvia’s Secret, as well as a collection of Hemingway-esque short stories, Green Seasons, and two coming-of-age novels, The Complex and Pearl Street. Evans is also the Editor and Publisher of the Blue Moon Literary & Art Review. Father of three, he lives in Davis, California, with his wife, Cindy. Please visit his websites at www.scottevansauthor.com and www.bluemoonlitartreview.com.