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Related: fiction - narratology - plot device

Contrast: plotlessness

Reading for the Plot : Design and Intention in Narrative (1984) - Peter Brooks [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

In modernist literature, plot is secondary to philosophical introspection, and the prose can be winding and hard to follow. Taking this to the extreme, we come to the anti novel of the mid twentieth century. [Jun 2006]


According to Aristotle's Poetics, a plot in literature is "the arrangement of incidents" that (ideally) each follow plausibly from the other. The plot is like the chalk outline that guides the painter's brush. An example of the type of plot which follows these sorts of lines is the linear plot of development to be discerned within the pages of a bildungsroman novel. Aristotle notes that a string of unconnected speeches, no matter how well-executed, will not have as much emotional impact as a series of tightly connected speeches delivered by imperfect speakers.

The concept of plot and the associated concept of construction of plot, emplotment, has of course developed considerably since Aristotle made these insightful observations. The episodic narrative tradition which Aristotle indicates has systematically been subverted over the intervening years, to the extent that the concept of beginning, middle, end are merely regarded as a conventional device when no other is to hand.

This is particularly true in the cinematic tradition where the folding and reversal of episodic narrative is now a commonplace. Moreover, many writers and film directors, particularly those with a proclivity for the Modernist or other subsequent and derivative movements which emerged during or after the early 20th century seem more concerned that plot is an encumbrance to their artistic medium than an assistance. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plot


Denouement, in literature, is the end effect of a character's earlier actions. Denouement occurs after the climax. There is a "turning point" between the climax and the denouement, termed "peripeteia".

The term is borrowed into English from the French. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denouement [Feb 2005]

Reading for the Plot : Design and Intention in Narrative (1984) - Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks is Sterling Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. He is formerly Professor in the Department of English and School of Law at the University of Virginia. Brooks is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work cuts across French and English literature, Law, and psychiatry.

His books include the recently published Troubling Confessions: Speaking Guilt in Law and Literature (2000); Psychoanalysis and Storytelling; Body Work; Reading for the Plot; The Melodramatic Imagination; and The Novel of Worldliness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Brooks [Sept 2006]

See also: narrative - narratology - plot - USA - literary theory

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