An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 22

The Side-track Called Plotto Continues

Not much to say beyond that, except how things are progressing.

Having ripped the original text from William Wallace Cook’s Plotto, A New Method of Plot Suggestion for Writers of Creative Fiction, the greatest task of work was formatting all the material to be suited as prolog clauses.  When stripped from PDF sources (scanners can do this conversion of text to PDF), this can be deceptively simple, and disastrously wrong.

The first problem is with end-of-line at every line.  It takes effort to distinguish the true end of line, a new paragraph, from where PDF often inserts an end of a line occurring at the right margin of every line of text.  Simply put, PDF conversions can take a 10 line paragraph (with several sentences) and translate that into 10 paragraphs of one line of text each (without consideration for sentence structure).

The second problem is poor translation of words, numbers, symbols, page numbers, page headings, AND all the smudges and broken type that might reside on a page.

The seduction of these problems is that PDF does a good job, about 80% accurate (a modest C in any class of instruction), but finding the 20% of errors takes a huge amount of time.  I’ve been down this road many times and I have found mechanisms to correct 18%, but 2% remain to be found over many hours.

I am probably at that 98% accurate point as I add prolog clauses to consult the Plotto B Clauses and Conflicts.  This effort demonstrates there is considerable potential to be found in a program accessible form of Plotto that I hope will emerge in the future along with, or as part of An Author’s Inspiration.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 21

As well as the first experiment of developing a character from Plotto, I feel the need to revisit it based on the positive outcomes.

What I learned from the first exercise is that the word secret hit a nerve.  As I am developing stories revolving around secrecy, that nerve’s sensitivity is rewarded and the search turns to finding the word secret within the body of several thousand conflicts that Plotto codifies.  In this sense, and keeping within the nature of looking at Plotto from different perspectives, this amounts to working from the inside out.

Such search for secret reveals conflicts 1081, 1114, 1124, 1154, 1156 (the revelation of a B Clause for secrecy, 29), 1214,1219, 1221, 1225, 1229, 1232, 1239, 1240, 1241, 1247, 1255, 1263, 1269, 1281, 1285b, 1289d, 1293b, 1297, 1303, 1306, 1324b, 1346, 1367, 1370a, 1376, 1386a, 1388, 1392, 1403, 1407, 1408, 1413b, 1438c, 1439a, 1440, 1441a, (the revelation of a B Clause for secrecy, 61), 1448,

… I have just discovered that I started my search deep into the database of conflicts, somewhere in the last third, and that adding those of the first two thirds would be taxing my time.  The search for secret in the B Clauses alone should have been the first pass with 7 hits—more than enough to review my first experiment at building a character out of Plotto and trying again with conflicts that just as complex, but not so focussed on creating an infernal machine.

B Clauses with secrecy for a theme: 16, 26, 27, 29, 33, 38, and 61.

So, to look at these with the same method previously experimented with, that is, taking the cluster of three conflicts.

  • 16,”being delivered from misfortune by one who, in confidence, confesses a secret of transgression”
    • Pre Conflict, 1024, A is young, and had considerable money, but by a wild life he impoverishes himself and comes to want * For A, beating back to Easy Street has its difficulties **
    • Conflict, 831, A, ill and starving, receives food and money from his friend, A-2 * A-2 tells his friend, A, in confidence, that he is a bootlegger **
    • Post Conflict, 815 ,A is overtaken by A-2, a fugitive who is being pursued by A-6, an officer of the law * A’s sympathy goes out to A-2, a fugitive from the law, and he attempts to rescue him **
  • 26,”seeking secretly to preserve another from danger”
    • Pre Conflict, 641, D, trying to make a home for her widowed father, A, is neglected and cruelly treated by A
    • Conflict, 825, A, aware that his end is approaching, seeks to protect his adopted daughter, D, by making a will
    • Post Conflict, 1041, A, on his way to execute a new will disposing of his estate, meets death in an accident
  • 27,”refusing to betray another’s secret and calmly facing persecution because of the refusal”
    • Pre Conflict, 644, “B innocently befriends a stranger, A-4; and it later develops that A-4 is a political offender whom government officials, headed by A-6, are straining every nerve to capture * If A-6 knew that B had befriended A-4, she would be considered a confederate of A-4’s and suffer accordingly **”
    • Conflict, 824, “A is a prisoner of A-6, and A-6 seeks to secure from A information inimical to B”
    • Post Conflict, 878c, “A, a prisoner, bound, helpless and facing death, is rescued by resourceful B”
  • 29,”aiding another to hide from the world a fateful secret”
    • Pre Conflict, 50, “A, in love with B, impersonates another person at B’s instigation * A’s pretentions accepted, it develops that the person impersonated has a wife, who immediately claims A as her husband **”
    • Conflict, 667, “B, unless she conceals a personal delinquency, will seriously compromise herself * B, unless she reveals a personal delinquency, will cause an innocent man, A, to suffer for transgression **”
    • Post Conflict, 535, “B, wife of A, saves A-3, a supposed transgressor, from the law by a public confession of her delinquency * A, because of his great love for his wife, B, forgives her delinquency and glories in her moral courage in making a confession of it **”
  • 33,”resisting secretly and from an honorable motive a mandate considered discreditable”
    • Pre Conflict, 748, “A, poor, is happy in the belief that poverty is the source of contentment * A, believing poverty the source of contentment, refuses to develop resources in his possession that would give him wealth **”
    • Conflict, 958, “A takes issue with the accepted belief that poverty is the source of discontent, and conceives it to be the true source of happiness * A struggles against difficulties in seeking to avoid wealth **”
    • Post Conflict, 127b, “A believes that B will not marry him until he overcomes his personal limitations”
  • 38,”committing a grievous mistake and seeking in secret to live down its evil results”
    • Pre Conflict, 1319a, “A, in order to be revenged upon his enemy, A-3, manufactures an infernal machine, X * A sends an infernal machine X, to his enemy, A-3, and it falls into the hands of A’s friend, A-2 **”
    • Conflict, 987, “A, influenced by a compelling idea of responsibility, finds it necessary to protect his friend, A-2, from a secret danger * A is indirectly the cause of danger to his friend, A-2—danger of which A-2 is ignorant and of which A cannot tell him **”
    • Post Conflict, 867, “A, suspected of treachery by his friend, A-2, in a daring rescue saves the property and perhaps the life of A-2, and proves his faithfulness by a revelation of the danger to which A-2, unknown to himself, was exposed”
  • 61,”becoming aware of an important secret that calls for decisive action”
    • Pre Conflict, 771a, “A thinks a certain crime has been committed and lodges information with the police, A-6 * A thinks a crime has been committed, but he is mistaken **”
    • Conflict, 802, “A discovers that B, supposed to have been murdered, really committed suicide”
    • Post Conflict, 669;738, “B commits a secret transgression * B, committing a secret transgression, has her secret discovered by A-5 ** B’s secret transgression is discovered by A-5, who seeks to use his knowledge for purposes of blackmail ***”; “B, a victim of certain unpleasant conditions, seeks to escape them by self-destruction”

So, what to do with this set of secret conflicts?

There are two take-aways here:

  1. This still does not fulfill my mind’s eye view of my protagonist;
  2. As my expected plot is secret driven, then these examples do fill needs for minor character drives and their motivations.