Thursday, February 20, 2014

Plot and Kevin Bacon

Hey all! Today, I'm welcoming Elizabeth Seckman to my blog. She's going to tell us what Kevin Bacon taught her about plotting.

Take it away, Elizabeth. :-)

Thanks for having me over Misha! I feel a little like a kindergartener coming to the high school to share knowledge, but I will try to sound like I know what I'm talking about.

The most critical part of a good tale is the plot. The plot is the bones everything else in the story hangs on. No bones, no book.

And everything I learned about plotting, I got from Kevin Bacon.

Applaud me, Kevin. I am brilliant.

Yes, Kevin Bacon, the actor.

Ever heard of  the game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

Here's the game, in a nutshell: Link any actor to Kevin Bacon within six connections.

Okay, so here is how it works. Let's take Madonna. How is she connected to Kevin Bacon? She was married to Sean Penn, who starred with Kevin in Mystic River. So, that's a quick two degree separation. And the legend is you can link almost anyone in Hollywood to Kevin within six degrees.

Yeah, yeah...fun little party game, but what's it got to do with plotting?

I say plots MUST also be that tight. Let's pretend the plot is Kevin Bacon. Everything that happens in that story must, within six degrees, have something to do with the main plot. No tangents. No meandering. No superfluous characters to bog down the reader's memory. Every conversation and every action move the story along.

For example: let's say it's a romance. A single dad and his son. Dad needs a love interest. Now, pick the kid's sub plot...let's say he's learning disabled. Voila! Dad dates the teacher. Need some more conflict? Bring on dad's ex-wife. Now you have an antagonist who is bringing back story. See? Subplots + Plot are connected.

Keep it tight. Keep it moving.  Kevin will applaud you too.


Fate Intended is the third book in the Coulter Men Series.  Trip is the last of the Coulter sons to find
love. He’s a handsome man with all the skills a young spy needs to succeed. But when it comes to love, he misses the target. Jane is a sweet beauty who may or may not be wanted for murder. She’s hiding out as a cleaning lady when chance brings her and Trip together. It looks like a happily ever after is in the cross hairs until reality tries to destroy what fate has intended.


Elizabeth Seckman is a simple chick with a simple dream…to write stories people want to read.
photo credit: titi- via photopin cc

36 comments:

  1. I like this Elizabeth - Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. This is advice that will never be forgotten.

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    1. It helped me. I kept hearing...don't meander. And then one day it hit me..everything has to tie together, like Kevin Bacon in Hollywood.

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  2. Smart analogy, Elizabeth. It all has to tie back to Kevin Bacon. I mean the plot!

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    1. But hey, if the book gets adapted, the plot will tie back to Kevin Bacon as well. :-D

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    2. Wouldn't that be sweet? I need to write Kevin the prefect character ;)

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  3. That is a surprising and simple way to look at plotting. Excellent! Of course keeping Kevin in mind is kind of having some eye/mind candy on hand for inspiration. :)

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    1. That's true too, just don't let yourself get too distracted by that eye candy ;)

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  4. Wow. Never thought of it in this way and now I can't forget it. What a great example!

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    1. I like to keep my mind simple and my thoughts clear. I worried it would seem too simplistic, but it did help me.

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  5. Simple, really. I've never been any good at that game though - I'll stick to plotting :-)

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    1. I'm horrible at the real game. I don't know hardly anyone in Hollywood. I'm totally out of the pop culture loop!

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  6. Thanks for having me over Misha! Much appreciated :)

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  7. Nice and tight, not footloose, got it.

    mood

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  8. Brilliant! How to make plotting fun. While tying it to Kevin Bacon of course.

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    1. Or at least allowing him to keep you company in your head :)

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  9. Great post, Elizabeth. But sometimes connecting plot and subplot is easier said than done. I love the idea of six degrees of separation though. I love your book blurb too. If it's fairly PG-13 you can come do a guest post on my blog sometime.

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    1. Why thank you Beth! And yes, it's PG-13. I have four boys and if I wrote something saucy, I'd NEVER live it down!! They have already asked, you didn't write a porn book, did you?

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  10. Correct, keep the plot moving forward. If the scene doesn't support that focus in some manner, should it really be there?

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    1. I don't think so. Readers are busy. Keep them interested or lose them.

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  11. Not just people in Hollywood. Theoretically, everyone is within 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon. I'm two degrees from Bacon. Kevin Bacon. Frequently, I'm 0 degrees from bacon.

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    1. I did read that...but come on, bacon makes the theory better. I mean who doesn't love bacon...or Kevin too for that matter :)

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  12. What a brilliant idea! I'm going to definitely use that - thank you for sharing!

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  13. Great game, Elizabeth. I agree - the plot should be very tight regarding its human connections. No random figures; everyone is connected in some way. I'll definitely use the game for my future novels.

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    1. I sometimes imagine I am casting a movie and can't afford extra actors, who can do double duty in the story? Because yes, lots of characters gets very confusing!

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  14. This is the most hilarious way I've ever heard plots explained, but you know, yup, it kind of works! I often describe it was threads, which must be woven together.

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    1. My first thoughts on it were spider webs, all woven together...but then I was doing the Kevin Bacon game with friends and got the little epiphany for my brain...I have a simple minded brain...it likes easy.

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  15. Kevin Bacon ca teach us so much. Enjoyed this lesson Liz.

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  16. Great examples.

    I'm so bad at the Kevin Bacon game. I don't have a mind for movies, but I do have a mind for writing.

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    1. I am HORRIBLE at the game too Medeia!! I am a pop culture fail anymore. If it didn't happen prior to 1988, I probably haven't heard about it!

      But you are totally right...you most definitely have a brain for writing!

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  17. I never really thought of six degrees as a plotting took but it certainly works. Good point.

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