In the second episode in the Plot season of Elements, I talk to Dan Kois about plot and narrative and what it is to write it.
There are four seasons in the Elements series. We’ll be talking about Plot until June. I realised now I used the word ‘Plot’ because I liked the way it sounded with ‘Place’. When I talk about plot what I mean is how a story works. I’m talking about things like narrative and structure but also, something more basic than that – ideas like, Why are some of the world *in* the story and why are some *not in* it? What makes a story ‘finished’? What does a story need to do to make us satisfied?
Dan chose a sound mixing board as the object for our discussion about plot. We talk about the mixing board in this video
Some of the things we talk about are:
You can read about Dan’s novel Vintage Contemporaries here https://www.dankois.com/vintage-contemporaries
We talk about Laurie Colwin’s book Happy all the Time https://www.lauriecolwin.com/books
Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/14/dept-speculation-review-jenny-offill
Take a narrative you know well – it could be a TV commercial or a fairy tale – something relatively simple. Now write the narrative in three minutes. Now write the story following one of the other characters (you could make up another character). Then try this again, write the story following another character. The final step of this exercise is to turn these stories up and down – as if you had a mixing desk. You could literally cut up the sentence in each point of view and arrange them on a table or floor. What happens? You could obviously do this with some of your own writing – a scene, short story or poem.
Thank you Copyright Licensing New Zealand for funding the Elements series.
Or listen to it here: