Plot Patterns—Part II Love and Adventure

plot-structureLast week we began looking at plot patterns from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. We’ll continue this week. #plotpatterns #plottingpatterns #plottinglove #plottingadventure


Example: Romeo and Juliet

Getting the love of the object of one’s affections is one goal, or getting together in spite of obstacles is another. Love stories can end happily, sadly, or tragically. Which do you like? Click to Tweet

Rudiments of Love

  • Two people have to be in love
  • Something has to separate them
  • They either get back together or tragically do not
  • One or both of the lovers grows as a result of the pattern
Photo from Flickr

Photo from Flickr

Structure of Love

Scenario 1: Act I is usually where the lovers meet for the first time, or one falls in love with the other. Act II is the struggle to gain the love of the other person, or something happens to separate them, or tries to keep them apart.

Scenario 2: The lovers fall in love with each other in Act I, and Act II introduces something that threatens to keep them apart.

The “old” formula: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.

“Love stories are resonant in two ways. If they end happily, it gives us hope. Maybe we can find love in this world, too.” Pg. 185

My novel, “Meghan’s Choice,” is a historical romance. When I look at the two basic scenarios, I kind of combined them, and yet, I did the “triangle” — sort of. I introduced two men who were opposites of Meghan. Now, it didn’t take long for one of the men to fall in love with her, but she had two men she was attracted to. It took until the middle of Act II before she knew what man she loved.

But just because she figured it out didn’t mean they could or would end up together. There was her father’s ultimatum of a year, there was conflict and danger in the town, there was blackmail and possible death before those two knew whether or not they would end up together. In my second book, there’s another monkey wrench thrown at those two before matrimony.


“Adventure stories are among the oldest in literature. They originally created a vicarious thrill for the audience, who were usually stuck in one physical location for life.” Pg. 186

Even though we can travel wherever we want to (provided we have the money), “most of us are in predictable life patterns. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: predictability and certainty help us feel secure.” Pg. 186

Rudiments of Adventure

  • The Lead sets out on a journey. Rather than a quest for some object, this is a desire for adventure alone—to experience what’s “out there.”
  • There are various encounters along the way with interesting characters and circumstances.
  • The Lead usually has some insight into himself or his life after the adventure.

adveneture-2Structure of Adventure

“To go on an adventure, you have to leave. In Act I, therefore, the Lead is introduced just before he goes in search of adventure, thus showing briefly the life he’s going to leave behind. There may be various forms of dissatisfaction that the Lead has with his current environment. This may arise out of a real challenge to the Lead’s well-being…” Two examples used by Bell are The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Don Quixote. Pg. 186

“What makes the adventure story work here is Huck’s unique voice and the colorful characters he interacts with. In such a plot, the adventures must each stand on their own as mini-plots.

“The challenge of the adventure plot is in keeping it from becoming purely episodic. That is, you shouldn’t have the Lead just rump from one episode to another and come out the same at the end.” Pg. 186-187 Click to Tweet

So there you have love and adventure. Next week, we’ll look at The Chase and One Against. #plottingsystems #plotsystems #plottinglove #plottingadventure

What do you like? Leave a comment and let me know.

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