The Madness that is Plotto

One:  Plotto is a book.  It contains plots.  1,462 plots.  It is the TVTropes of plot books.

Two:  Don’t get the ebook.  Just don’t.  You will need all ten fingers and several bookmarks to read this book.

Three:  This book is madness.  Or a meditation.  Or both.

Four:  This book clearly states that it does not include all the plots.  I noticed a dearth of antiheroes and Scooby gangs.  But it does allow that new plots can and should be invented.

Five:  It’s dated, written in 1928 by a pulp mastercraftsman, William Wallace Cook, who once wrote 54 novels in a year (!) but now is largely forgotten.  So feel free to genderflip and ignore racial epithets.

Six: After the Foreword but before Plotto itself, someone helpfully tries to give additional instructions–“Plotto 101.”  Ignore these.  They are worse than useless.

Seven:  The author proceeds to give extensive but vague instructions.  Follow them.  Essentially, he tells you just enough to dick around with the book for a while.  Do so.

Eight:  Then follow the real instructions and exercises, at the back of the book.

Nine:  It feels like a party game at first.

Ten:  Then the next time you get stuck on a plot, go back to Plotto.  You will resist doing so.  “Such a horrid amount of work.”  Nothing will suit.  Everything is not quite right.  Then you start following plot threads back and forth.  Certain numbers keep reappearing.  You begin to strip away nonessentials.  You get inspired, write three paragraphs, and the next day delete two of them before writing ten pages, as you add another block to your plot.  The ending reveals itself, then rewrites itself.  You cycle back through the beginning of the story to make sure the ending’s set up correctly, and there aren’t any major plot holes.  You are not stuck.  You can no longer imagine being stuck; you curse the business of your day that prevents you from fixing every story that you’ve ever abandoned because you got stuck.  This could work, you tell yourself.  This could work.


First iteration:

3a.  A lawless person.  18b. Rebelling against a power that controls personal abilities and holds them in subjection. 5c.  Emerges from a trying ordeal with sorely garnered wisdom.

B clauses for 18:

Misfortune (674)


674 (622) (755) (1450) A loses his son, in whom all his ambitions were centered * A struggles against an overwhelming sorrow that proves an obstacle to enterprise and holds his abilities in subjection. (1053) (1056)

Hm…how about we skip the first section and just use the second, changing it like this*:

A, a lawless person, struggles against an overwhelming ennui that proves an obstacle to fitting in the ordinary world and holds his aesthetics in subjection.  

Moving to 1056 for more plot…

A hiding in a place where there is no food, steals from the larder of his nearest neighbor. * The neighbor, missing food from his larder, half believes it was taken by a “ghost” ** A, a supposed ghost, is caught in a trap set by the neighbor, and the neighbor proves to be A’s missing son. ***

Here I only want the first section, and I can change it like this:

A, attempting to break his ennui with the help of his cohort, steals all normalcy from his nearest neighbor in a perfectly contemptible fashion.

But 1056 is a dead end, no follow-on plots!  What to do next?  We could go back to the list of B clauses and add more, or we could look up plots as organized by the main character relationships.

I decide that Lawless Person A has been captured by the authorities by this point, and so go to A and male officer of the law, page 321.

Here’s a good one:  A, a fugitive from justice seekeing to avoid capture, finds himself in a tight corner with sherriffs apparently approaching him from every direction 651

Which hardly needs editing at all.

A, a fugitive from justice seekeing to avoid capture, finds himself in a tight corner with the law apparently approaching him from every direction.

This leads me to plot 651, which says the same thing but leads me to 699b.

699b. A driven to bay by pursuers, takes refuge in an old house * A is rescued from pursuers when the old house in which he had taken refuge is blown away by a tornado.

Here I think I have a few edits, and then I think we can end:

A is driven to bay by pursuers, and takes refuge in an experimental government program. * A is rescued from his pursuers when the government program in which he had taken program is proved to be complete bunk.  

And then you wrap things up with the c (ending) clause:

5c. Emerges from a trying ordeal with sorely garnered wisdom.

In the end, A emerges from his trials with the knowledge that the normal world is just as criminal as anything he ever did.

–And there you have the plot for A Clockwork Orange.  Which is an antihero story, so I guess you can force an antihero if you want one.

*WWC notes that you can and should do this, changing everything to suit.




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