We have done course 1 of this series on How to Write a Novel. If you have not already gone through the course, please access it on this blog. We treated the definition of Plotmatics but I would like to do a quick reminder here again.
Plotmatics is a word coined from plot and the suffix in mathematics, i.e. –matics. It means the use of engineering technique (design, fabrication and operation) to plan, write and make a story available to a reading audience. Just like Genetic Engineering tampers with the make up of the gene to give rise to an entire new outcome with traces of the former, Plotmatic Engineering tampers with the definition of plot, which is the nucleus of the novel, to give rise to a whole new way of approaching novel making. Plot is the mordant or platform upon which a story is built. Just like the finger print, it is unique for every novel.
Quite of course plot is the event around which a story is built and often followed by a step-by-step account. This goes to say that the mechanism for novel writing within the context of this course is a step-by-step approach. This entails taking the story one step at a time and leading it on by asking the question, “then what next?” A perfect example of this rule is our text Lonely Weekends by Maximus Clement found at http://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Weekends-Maximus-Clement/dp/1482804425 and other numerous sites on the Internet.
Deriving the Story
From experience, this is about the hardest task in writing a novel. Getting a story to write is anything but easy. Often times, people talk about inspiration or some influence like alcohol or joy. How long would you have to wait for the inspiration to write to come or must you get drunk or be in the mood to write a book? This is where engineering comes in. In engineering or the sciences, tasks proceed by design, which is more often than not a mathematical equation that allows the engineer to circumvent the challenge posed against him. Here, being a Plotmatic Engineer, we attempt to write by design and not by trial and error, which the arts are froth with. You need to know from the outset what to do and how to do it.
Then how do you derive your story? You must have something to write about in the first place. We can derive our story in two ways for the purpose of this course: going by the definition of the plot as above, or going by such circumstances that can lead to an event which would culminate into a story.
Let us take the first instance. The novel Lonely Weekends was derived from a mere phrase murder at the subway. This is an event around which the entire story is built. The flash fiction that led to it began with a subway murder and other events or accounts followed in steps along the question, “what next?”. After chapter 1 what next? After chapter 2 what next? And so on till the end. Guess we have a rule here.
The second instance is such circumstance that can lead to an event around which a story may be built.
What if Mr. X has a boss at the office, who never sees anything good in what he does? She snaps at him at the slightest of chance. She goes on to report him to his superiors on several occasions until finally she makes a show of him when the board comes visiting. This is the circumstance that can lead to an event. The event therefore that might lead to a story might be that Mr. X murders his boss and her body is found in her office one morning by a cleaner. This eventually becomes whodunit! And the story begins.
Planning the Story
This is where the story structure comes in. After deriving what to write, yet again Plotmatics brings to bear. This is when you balance the coordinates. Ever heard of the Plotbook Magic Table? This is how Lonely Weekends was planned.
|THE STORY STRUCTURE OF LONELY WEEKENDS|
|PLOT||SETTING||CHARACTERS||ROLE IN THE PLOT|
|Murder of a lady at the subway||Governor Ndubuisi’s family and work lives as a politician within the Nigerian context||1. Martin||Reporter, investigator who worked with the deputy governor. He eventually cracks the murder|
|2. Deputy Governor||Man who gets killed for knowing something|
|Used to derive the story||Space or context within which the plot thrives||People involved with the plot or story and||how they are involved with the plot|
Plotbook Magic Table
Elements of the Magic Table
Plot – this is already defined. An event is simply placed in its column as in the example above.
Setting – this is the space or context within which the plot thrives. By this definition, setting is not only space or location; it also includes a context within which the plot thrives just as in the table above.
Characters – lay them out as in the two examples above and place in the next column how they are involved with the plot.
Create the table and make a print-out which will be placed by your side as you write your story. Guess this course solves the problem on writing a novel.