“The Garden of Forking Paths”

When constructing a plot, at any given juncture with multiple potential outcomes, it’s wisest not to select the first outcome that pops into your head. The best procedure consists of identifying as many of the outcomes as practical and then assessing which outcome will have the most powerful impact, the most conflict, the most surprise factor.

It’s somewhat like playing chess, where each move needs to be selected not just by what will be gained on that move, but on what may result two, three, or four, or more, levels down.

Seizing the first possibility is likely to miss the most fortuitous outcome. But at each crossroads, it is not you, but your protagonist who must make the decision. Such decisions must therefore be in character. If you force a decision because it appears flashy or drama-laden or otherwise nifty, it may not ring true to your readers. If any decision is the result of using a random plot generator, you are already beyond redemption.

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This entry was posted in books, creativity, fiction, predictability, screenplays, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “The Garden of Forking Paths”

  1. Seems like wise advice for a lot of life’s circumstances.

  2. jguenther5 says:

    Thanks, Blog Woman! I hope this pays off for you.

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