Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lost Keys and Plot Branches

A plot can branch out in many directions depending on the actions of its characters.

I lost my keys today when I was running errands. After retracing my steps and failing to find them I thought about my options: call family for a ride, call a car assistance hotline, or continue looking for the keys. Ultimately I found them and it got me thinking about plot. Specifically, it got me thinking about how character decisions guide the plot.

Calling for help had a greater chance of success because there was a possibility that my keys were somewhere in a big and dark parking lot, but on the other hand, it would only be a temporary solution because my car would still be locked in a parking lot. It would also mean waiting for help to arrive which meant I could continue looking after placing the call. Finding the keys was the quickest permanent solution but it had a lower chance of success. Depending on the option I chose my evening would branch out in different directions and affect future events.

It's like those 'Chose Your Own Adventure' stories or video games with multiple endings. Depending on the reader/player's choice of actions, different events unfold. Thus, I feel the need to reiterate something from a previous post.

Characters determine plot; Plot does not guide characters.
I like permanent solutions so it was within my character to seek out the quickest permanent solution until it was no longer reasonable to do so. That's character driven. A plot driven scenario would have me go straight to my cell phone to trigger an event for the story the author wanted to write. My own characterization would not be important; a facilitator of events instead of the driver of events. Personally, I dislike those types of stories because they are more vulnerable to Fridge Logic and such.
For other posts concerning characters guiding plots see Character Action List and Characters are everything. 

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