Borrowing Plot Structure to Write an Entertaining Blog
One of the reasons that a good work of fiction captures our hearts and minds is that it has found a winning formula – one that, despite various tinkering and experiments, is fairly straightforward in its format. Understanding and borrowing from this format can help you generate good, interesting blog content.
Fiction Plot Structure
Nearly all fiction, except the occasional experimental types, follows the same basic pattern:
1 – Status Quo
This is how things are, the basic explanation of the current state of things that sets the stage. Whether implied by the narration and dialog or spelled out clearly in an info dump, this part is important because it provides the context for all that will follow.
2 – Conflict!
This is the starting element of the story, the thing that introduces the departure from the status quo. Something has changed, and for whatever reason someone in the story is opposed to this change, and has to fight it.
3 – Complication/Rising Action
A conflict isn’t much entertainment by itself, particularly if the conflict is as simple as: I wanted to go to the movie, but my tire went flat (the conflict), so I changed it (resolved). Much more entertaining would be: I wanted to go to the movie, but my tire went flat and as I was changing it I realized a dust storm was approaching (complication).
Complications that make the conflict more interesting are the spice of a story, and drive what is called the “rising action,” or the gradual increase of tension as the story moves toward resolution.
4 – Climax
Everything has come to a head. The facts are all laid out, the conflict can get no more complicated and a big definitive choice must be made. This is the most satisfying part of the story, and also the part that is easiest to mess up and let everyone down.
5 – Resolution
Wrapping things up, explaining the new status quo. This part is simple enough, and should follow on naturally from the climax.
Now, how can you borrow from this structure in order to make your blog more interesting? After all, a blog isn’t a fictional piece, it’s driven by facts, right?
Well, just because a story is nonfictional doesn’t mean that it cannot have a narrative. Many of the best true stories are just that, STORIES. Take the story of Woodward and Bernstein as they unraveled the mystery surrounding the Watergate break in. You had death threats, attacks, a top-secret source named after a recent pornographic movie – it was practically a thriller film in its own right, and indeed became the basis of one called All the President’s Men.
Each of these elements can be readily worked into a blog post. Virtually every post out there that deals with a narrative of events has to go into a little bit of information about how things have begun, or how they have led up to the events described in the story. Conflict and complication often play out in such posts by going into the details of who said what, and what other people said against the initial quote or in support of it. If a story has ended, you have the resolution option to work with.
Of course, there is nothing that says you have to include all of these elements in a single post, either. Perhaps the best way is to actually follow a particular story for several posts, be it a few days or a months-long odyssey.
This is best done with news-style developing stories, such as following a court case, or an investigation into something dramatic and revealing. Or it might follow a blogger’s personal journey through a difficult struggle such as returning to school or undergoing therapy of a sort following an accident. The point is, with the narrative spread over a number of posts, you can create that sense of rising action, and highlight the individual elements of a good plot much more effectively and easily than if you try to cram the elements into a single post.
So the next time you have a blog post that you think makes a compelling story, treat it like it IS a story. Identify the arc of the rising action, the conflict and complications and present the narrative in a way that makes the readers want to read it – even makes them feel a bit naughty for trying to read ahead to see what happens next.
Dawn Walnoha is the VP of Production at Brandsplat. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. For the free Brandsplat Report go to Brandsplat.com or visit our blog.
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4 Responses to “Borrowing Plot Structure to Write an Entertaining Blog”
Wow, that was extremely enlightening! I an=m still trying to get the hang of developing my “voice” and will use this as a blueprint for future work to see if it helps.
Thanks for sharing with us
The transition from plain non-fiction style of writing to engaging writing with a story woven around a plot trying to convey the same message/ give the same information is the toughest one to make, for bloggers.
Facts are good, they can get you visitors but only the style of representing the facts and making them more interesting can enable them to stay on your site and make them read other articles. I have a technical blog where the content for each post is so technical and so long-winded, but I am trying my best to make them interesting. Thanks for the inspiration.
it is so good, the way you relate a work of fiction with bloggin. We often miss simple things in life.
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Certainly this is a nice post … if you want to develop your style of writing.
Dawn … why don’t you write a blog post an example by describing and adding all these elements which you just described above. That will be more practical and we will learn a lot.
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