This week: Plot SupportEdited by: Thankful Sonali Done 30 DBC!
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I was in the audience for an innovative performance --
dance and storytelling combined.
There was an email exchange with the narrator of the story.
The result was the idea for a contest and a newsletter.
There was this innovative dance performance recently, here in Bangalore, India. The dancers danced to songs with lyrics in Indian languages, then took a break while the narrator told the audience the story that was unfolding through the dance -- in English. It was a historical tale about a king and his love for a temple dancer. Dad and I attended and were quite entertained, but something was bothering me and I emailed the girl who had narrated the story (she's a friend of mine).
"I liked it," I told her, "but there was one bit I felt could have been cut out -- they were separated from each other once, then united briefly, then separated again. I felt it held up the story to have that second separation, you could've gone straight to the climactic scene of their wedding."
Back came the reply -- "This was history as it happened, we weren't making the story up. Besides, we were showcasing different forms of dance and the second separation .took place in another region, with subtly different traditional dance. We had to cover both regions."
This got me thinking. I was going purely as a writer / editor. Is this necessary to the plot? What's it doing for the story? Why isn't something moving forward? The group, however, had another agenda.
The plot had to go hand in hand with something to be showcased. In fact, the plot wasn't the most important thing there. The dances were.
I'm not sure what exactly the solution is. I'm not sure whether it qualifies as a lapse in storytelling, to have a bit that seems to be redundant (but isn't, for other reasons). If I'd been the editor and pure plot had been the consideration, I'd have edited that bit out.
I thought a bit more. I wondered where the TV commercials I've written scripts for, fit in. Those are to showcase a product, after all. Or travelogues. They showcase a place. So is the plot secondary, there, to whatever's being showcased? How does it work?
Enter -- the WDC community. I decided to ask them. In the form of a contest, where they had to use a plot to showcase anything they liked.
Here's the contest I set up: "Plot Support - Results announced!"
While writing up the rules, I particularly put in a bit about 'new or existing stories', because -- don't all stories showcase something anyway? So if an existing story could be tweaked so as to make the showcasing as / more important as compared to the plot, I was all for it.
When I announced my contest, many WDCites helped to promote it. People were interested. I received emails asking for clarifications. And by the last date, I had ten entries -- which I'm quite happy about, given that there wasn't much time for people to enter. I was itching to read the entries, but my own rules promised I wouldn't, till the deadline.
When the countdown to the deadline finally reached 0.0, I was all agog. What had the writers come up with?
And, as usual, the writers of WDC surpassed themselves.
All ten stories showcased something different. The first entry received was "Invalid Entry" . This one was actually the most confusing to judge. In his explanatory note at the top of the item, the author said he was showcasing something. Reading the item, I wondered -- what's this? He hasn't showcased it at all! And then -- bam -- the ending, and, in fact, he had showcased exactly what he had said he would! Read the story -- check out whether you agree with me. Takes a while for it to -- to -- 'sink in' so to speak. I wasn't quite sure how to place the story, and finally decided on a second place because only one aspect had really been showcased. But I wouldn't have disagreed if, say, I'd had a second judge who placed it much higher. (I'm being honest here!)
There was one grand prize winner, one first place winner (which was an existing story), three second place winners and two third place winners -- and all of them showcased something different. They're in the Editor's Picks section below, so I'll leave you to read and enjoy them without telling you anything more.
Now to the items that didn't place. They had potential, it just hadn't been developed enough. The subjects (themes to showcase) were all different again.
"One Man's Indulgence and Perception" talks about a rather abstract concept, how perceptions are formed. The examples given are easy to understand. The reason it didn't place was that it isn't actually a story with a plot, it read more like an essay to me. If the author tweaks it to a story, it has great potential to showcase this aspect of human psychology.
"Invalid Item" has taken a theory about the relationship between music and mathematics and used feline protagonists instead of human ones. Interesting, and again, has potential for development.
The author of the final item that didn't place wants to work on it more, and has restricted access. It's now a private item. Maybe I'll highlight it in a future newsletter!
So yeah -- to come back to our question -- can the plot play a secondary role? Yes it can.
Can you tell a brilliant story anyway? Read the Editor's Picks below, they speak for themselves!
Thanks for reading!
PS -- And -- yeah -- I've talked a lot, but the authors of the pieces have talked, too!
Here's what they have to say: "When the Plot Supports"
Winners, "Plot Support - Results announced!"
SECOND PLACE: "Invalid Entry"
The authors, about their pieces:
Did you enjoy these? Do review, to let the author(s) know!
A contest -- in which the sentence supports the letters given!
All time favourites!
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Thank you for the responses to "Still a Kid"
hbk16 Good newsletter which talks about what someone is still doing as adult and that she/ he used to do as a child.In all of us remains a child spirit.
Sunny I love your newsletter, very good job. Well thought out, well organized and I just feel welcomed. Keeping all the wonderful things that you do!
Lilli ☕️ 🧿 Thank you for a fun Newsletter and featuring my forum!!!
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