Plot & Structure Exercise 39: Putting it all together

Phew. Now that we got through that whole book, it’s time to sketch a quick plot. Mr Bell suggests we take everything we know and write a plot summary. So, we need LOCK for the general layout (lead, objective, conflict, knockout). We need ARM (action, reaction, more action). And of course we must feature some conventional structures, if only to thwart audiences expectations.


What I want to add is something I learned (rather, had it clarified to me) yesterday. Stories ought to serve transformation. People are stuck. Stories offer change. Even a new found appreciation for our place in the universe is a form of change. I can’t believe I have been boring half the human race with stories of stasis. Stories that didn’t even come from me, rather just blah blahed around. It’s precisely what bores me about other’s stories. They tell me something that happened, but not what that something gave them, how it changed them, why it dislocated them.


So, yessir, I will tell you a plot story that features massive transformation, along with the exercise’s rules:


Pick a genre you are not familiar with and write a plot summary.


. . .


What Georgina knew best was how to keep quiet when her step-father looked himself and her in the bedroom. Her mother knew, but couldn’t leave yet another husband so easily. The night of her seventh birthday, Georgina kisses the neighbor boy — a 14 year old son of immigrants — who always knew how to stop her crying by making her laugh. Wide-eyed and unflinching, he offers Georgina one birthday wish. The next day, she gets it, when she wakes up to find her mother and the step-father bludgeoned to death, heart and genitals gutted.


Georgina runs away, hitching a ride with the first truck to stop and pick her up. It is an elderly couple, hippies, who had never conceived a child, that take in Georgina. Although they cannot get her to speak at all, they risk prison by adopting the young girl. They teach her how to use paints. One day, at a festival, a celebrity artist stops by the stand and buys an original work of art by Georgina for 5000€ (he’s European). This causes a frenzy that leads the old couple to rethink their relationship to the young artist. As her popularity meteors, the hippies cash in more and more money. They have her working day and night, painting commissioned works, and touring. Because the laws on child labor in the arts are loose, the old couple can pretend to homeschool her, while they have her paint.


In the near decade that follows, the rich old couple start to worry their soon to be an adult young lady will reveal the truth. They have her tongue cut out. Her genitals mutilated. And her locked in the highest room of the tallest condo. Her only entertainment is humming lullabies from her robbed infancy.


Deciding to take her life, on her eighteenth birthday, a stranger appears at the door of the couple’s home. It’s the neighbor boy from Georgina’s youth. He is there to honor the wish he had granted her so many years earlier. Whether she gets her wish depends on one thing, though. Is this story a tragic-Romance tale, or psycho-YA story? Read to find out.

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