Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

:iconjamberry-song: More from jamberry-song

Featured in Collections

Resources by Vigilo

Writing Tutorials by ZCirque

Writing Resources by Expose-Lit

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
May 15, 2011
File Size
3.5 KB


259 (who?)

Part I - The Big Four: Exploring Plot Types

Before we start, it will be prudent to know what kind of plot you seek for your project. There are four main types that we will explore here:

- The character-driven plot.
- The event- or situation-driven plot.
- The world-driven plot.
- The concept- or theme-driven plot.

The character-driven plot is employed in stories that are propelled forward by the learning, changing character or characters. Harry Potter is an example of character-driven plot. I have one friend who is absolutely certain that this is the future of literature, because of the way we view and understand the human psyche.

The event-driven plot takes as its focus the events or chains of events that affect characters and the world in which the story is set. Choose-your-own adventure books are event-driven. Another example is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, in which the absurd situations that arise out of the setting are the main focus of the novel and the characters have no choice but to adapt, go insane, or recognize the futility of existence. (Pretty bleak, right? It's an amazing book, though!)

In the world-driven plot, the main focus is developing a world and establishing its history, cultures, geographical features, fate, etc. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings is world-driven, with much of its focus on describing the qualities of its settings and the patterns of its fate, with its characters merely serving as means toward realizing that fate.

The concept- or theme-driven plot takes as its focus one central concept or recurring theme. As amusing as it sounds, most sci-fi and most religious writings are theme- or concept-driven. Son of Man by Robert Silverberg and 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke are both concept-driven, as the main character is not as important as allowing the reader to experience the authors' concepts through him. Likewise, Planet of the Apes and George Orwell's Animal Farm are also concept-driven, using parallels of human history to illustrate that certain qualities inherent in civilized society will cause patterns to repeat themselves. Religious texts, such as the Bible or, on a more spiritual level, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, are also concept- or theme-driven, because their focus is on the teachings of holy men rather than on characters, events, or worlds.

The first question you must ask yourself as a writer is this: "What is most important in the story I'm trying to write?" Is it the character(s) you love? The world you've created as the setting? The events or situations you've come up with? The concept or theme you desperately want to get across to the reader?

This question is not meant to corner you; on the contrary, it is meant to make your life easier. By deciding on a main kind of plot, you are by no means confining yourself, either. Many stories take aspects of two or more kinds of plot to keep the reader entranced.

However, it is best to start simple and work toward the more complex. So, as soon as you can answer this question with what you honestly want, the sooner you can be on your way to drawing up your outlines.

Speaking of outlines---on to Part II - Get Out the Map: Drawing Up Outlines!
Please see links below.

----- ----- -----
Because of the scope of this guide, I have broken it up into five manageable parts:

The Purpose-Driven Plot
Part I - The Big Four: Exploring Plot Types (you are here!)
Part II - Get Out the Map: Drawing Up Outlines
Part III - Just Around the River Bend: Subplots
Part IV - Backwards is Forwards: Formal Analysis in Reverse (coming soon)
Part V - Git'r Done: The Exercises (coming soon)

----- ----- -----

Stock resources for preview image:

~flora - newspaper clippings
~Sammykaye1sStamps - target figure
~JavierZhX - vector brushes

* Yes, the title of these articles is a spoof on The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. :lol:
Add a Comment:

Daily Deviation

Given 2011-10-01
The Purpose-Driven Plot Pt. 1 is an excellent installment in *jamberry-song's five-part writing guide series. ( Featured by nycterent )
AlimationX Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How do event driven plots work?
jamberry-song Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Professional General Artist
Have you seen the T.V. series "Game of Thrones"? That is arguably an event-driven plot, since little time is devoted to developing the world and the characters (in the show, anyway; I can't speak for the books because I've never read them). The things that happen in the show drive the characters, propel the plot. Does that make sense? :)
AlimationX Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes! I love game of thrones!
I see, so event driven stories are more about unexpected things happening and moving the story in unexpected directions?
AlimationX Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Good advice!
I'd like to try a world based plot.
Notyrgrl Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2013  Student Writer
mossi-mo Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah! Congrats on the DD! This is a really good tutorial set. I look forward to seeing it completed. Not only is it well formed, it's concise. I'll definitely be recommending this to my friends. I can never manage to explain things this clearly and briefly.
cehlsea Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Amazing...all I've been looking for!
LightLoveAngel Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
oh, my, super helpful with being a aspiring author :D thank you!
Delicatesilver Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Such a large help. Thank you for creating this.
Natmonkey Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This will be useful. Thank you!
Tsuruda Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Very instructive and clear. +Faved for future reference.
the-Mad-Hatress Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Student General Artist
Mad helpful, danke.
M-shine694 Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
cant wait for all the 5 parts to come out ;D
AfroBlade Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011
AWESOME!! I've only just recently figured out what I wanted to do for my novel so having a guide to look at when I feel lost like this is a BIG help.
Filteredwords Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Student Writer
Great guide for writes everywhere. It's amazing how we forget.
Lit-Twitter Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011
Chirp, congrats on the DD, it's been twittered. [link] :)
Vigilo Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2011  Student Writer
Congratulations on your DD! This looks super-helpful and I can't wait to read them all. :heart:
Euxiom Featured By Owner May 16, 2011
Niceee. I have a feeling this guidething'll be helpful. You explain things, frankly, quite awesomely.
rlkirkland Featured By Owner May 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
:D Looking good... could be very helpful :)
Add a Comment: