Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots

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Tin House Books, Dec 13, 2011 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 350 pages
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A classic how-to manual, William Wallace Cook's Plotto is one writer's personal theory--"Purpose, opposed by Obstacle, yields Conflict"--painstakingly diagrammed through hundreds of situations and scenarios

A classic how-to manual, William Wallace Cook’s Plotto is one writer’s personal method, painstakingly diagrammed for the benefit of others. The theory itself may be simple—“Purpose, opposed by Obstacle, yields Conflict”—but Cook takes his “Plottoist” through hundreds of situations and scenarios, guiding the reader’s hand through a dizzying array of “purposes” and “obstacles.” The method is broken down into three stages: 1. The Master Plot 2. The Conflict Situation 3. Character Combinations In the first stage, Cook demonstrates that “a character with particular traits . . . finds himself in a situation . . . and this is how it turns out.” Following this, each Master Plot leads the reader to a list of circumstances, distributed among twenty different Conflict Groups (these range from “Love’s Beginning,” to “Personal Limitations,” to “Transgression”). Finally, in Character Combinations, Cook offers an extensive index of protagonists for what serves as an inexhaustible reservoir of suggestions and inspiration.
 

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Contents

PLOTTO CHART
13
INDEX TO CLASSIFICATION OF SYMBOLS
266
INSTRUCTION MANUAL
439
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About the author (2011)

William Wallace Cook was born in Marshall, Michigan, in 1867. He was the author of a memoir, The Fiction Factory, as well as dozens of Westerns and science-fiction novels, many of which were adapted into films. He was nicknamed “the man who deforested Canada” for the volume of stories he fed into the pulp-magazine mill. He spent five years composing Plotto before finally publishing it in 1928. Cook died in his hometown of Marshall in 1933.

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