Boldly Embracing Plot Clichés

As any English Prof will tell you, avoid clichés like the, well, plague. It’s an instant F to start any story with, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Similarly, overused plot devices are literary anathema. Here are a few of the most overused plots in human history: It was all a dream (and the protagonist wakes up in a …

Gaslighting as a Plot Device

The 1939 play that gives us the term ‘gaslighting’ is set in a building in which several floors of apartments share the same gas supply for their lights. Gas jets were widely used for indoor lighting at that time. Like water pipes, gas pipes have only so much supply and if lots of lights are on at the same time, …

Expelled: The India Landry Story, and Yours!

India Landry was expelled from her public school in Houston because she did not stand for the pledge of allegiance. To introduce my writing students to her story, I created a handout with a news photo of India and a story from BuzzFeed (9/25/18). The news story includes these quotes: “Principal Strother upon seeing this [that India did not stand …

A Vampire At School! Excitement Times Three

Omne trium perfectum. Latin for ‘sets of three are perfect’.  In modern writing, it’s the Rule of Three. Simply put, triads often make for good plotting: The Three Musketeers. Three acts to the classic play. The love triangle. To use the Rule of Three, try to come up with three main characters as you craft a plot. Or three main …

The Big Reveal: Having Fun with the Ultimate Plot Twist

Drip, drip, drip… Imagine a huge block of ice melting. It’s been frozen for a very long time. Something is in it. Something that was never supposed to see the light of day. Now it is about to be revealed.             Reveals are a wonderful plot device. Perhaps the wonderful plot device. You can make a case for the reveal …