MIT Open Course — The Plot

What is the plot? A plot is a series of events, and through those events, we can learn about a character, the conflict, and the resolution of the conflict. The plot is the vehicle in which the story moves forward (and backward). A story cannot exist without one. Although traditionally the plot was the most important element of any story, more emphasis is given to characters nowadays. Before I begin to write, it is always the plot that first inspires me, but I can easily get sidetracked by my characters and the ‘side-stories.’

In this part of the course, we were asked to read

  1. Achebe, Chinua. “Dead Men’s Path.”
  2. Hurston, Zora Neale. “Sweat.”
  3. Jin, Ha. “Saboteur.”
  4. O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard To Find.”

Knowing how difficult it is to write a short story, I am amazed by how much a writer can convey in a few pages. Each of these stories was enjoyable. Many of them had an unexpected ending, and all of them contained elements of violence and death. Though there was a foreshadowing of the events that happened at the end of the story, I was still caught unaware. Of course, the authors left clues along the way that a very discerning reader would have picked up on. I admit that I had a strong feeling that the snake would get Sykes in the end in Sweat, but the deliberate sabotage in Saboteur and the murdering spree at the end of A Good Man is Hard to Find was shocking. Rereading certain parts made me realize that the authors had left clues and a framework for their ending so that the readers are not left feeling totally betrayed or disbelieving. This is an important element of the story as it not only establishes but maintains the trust or relationship between the reader and narrator.

I write about: Astronomy, Ancient History, Women….