No plot

by Jose Andres

Question: I have a really good idea for a novel but I think of it more than a chain of events with the same characters and in the same setting rather than a story with plot, my question is: Are there many novels that are like this?

Answer: On the one hand, there are "tales" which are different from "stories." Tales are simple chains of events that take a character from A to Z. Usually tales have some message or moral, but they generally lack the emotional draw of a complete story.

On the other hand, you can have a novel in which most of the plot is internal rather than external, more about the main character's growth than an external story goal.

And you can have novels that attempt simply to portray an imitation of life where the message is along the lines of "this is what the reality of life is like."

Bear in mind that if you are writing any of these you are probably writing in the genre of literary fiction where a compelling style and voice are necessary to hold the reader's attention in the absence of a well constructed plot. It is like the difference between lyrical and narrative poetry. The latter tells a story intended to stir the emotions and convey a message. The former presents beautiful language, ideas, and imagery.

Of course, it's also possible that you are letting yourself off the hook too easily and if you put some effort into creating a plot and a story goal to drive it the result would be a better novel. If you can combine style, voice, and structure you can have the best of both worlds.

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