The conventional or the traditional western plot follows the linear conflict- crisis - resolution pattern with its roots in the ideal plot which has been defined by Aristotle in the poetics as having a beginning, a middle and an end.
The classic plot shape for both stories and novels can be drawn as shown in the diagram above. A classic story begins with a situation in which there is potential for conflict, but in which nothing so far has happened to set the conflict in motion.
Then, something happens (the catalyst -: equivalent to Aristotle’s beginning) to disrupt the status quo. This catalytic event may open the story with a bang or it may be preceded by a passage of scene in which the status quo is established.
Once the catalyst has taken effect, there is usually a build up of conflict and tension, a series of scenes or moments in which matters complicate and which culminates in a crisis (the equivalent of Aristotle’s middle) and this is followed often very quickly by a resolution (Aristotle’s End).
This classic plot shape can be kept in mind when we are crafting the scenes in our books. Each scene can be taken as a separate short story and the same formula can be applied.
Each scene starts with a scene catalyst, something that disrupts the status quo in that particular scene, then, there is a build up of conflict until a crisis is reached and finally we have the much awaited scene resolution.
We can even draw this classic plot diagram with short notes and titles for the individual scenes. This can be used like index cards and the different scenes can be written in brief using this diagram, much like scene synopsis.
I am definitely going to give this a try for the individual scenes. What about you all? Does the Classic Plot Shape have any appeal for you all? How do you craft the individual scenes and the plot? Please share your method with us.