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What is the TFP Plotto Machine? (Writers wanted)

Discussion in 'Tilted Art, Photography, Music & Literature' started by Baraka_Guru, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor


    In 1928, novelist William Wallace Cook published a book that allows one to piece together as many as 1,462 different plots. Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots was designed with this in mind:

    The theory itself may be simple—“Purpose, opposed by Obstacle, yields Conflict”—but Cook takes his “Plottoist” through hundreds of situations and scenarios, guiding the reader’s hand through a dizzying array of “purposes” and “obstacles.”​

    The method is broken down into three stages:​

    1. The Master Plot​
    2. The Conflict Situation​
    3. Character Combinations​

    Here is how it works:

    Plotto looks like an algebra book at first: Protagonists A and B, and their numerically designated friends, rivals and relatives all combine and compete in pursuit of love, money, success and sometimes even a mysterious item X.​

    Each plot is cross-referenced with other plots that combine well with it. For example, here's plot 1,258: "B, a woman criminal arrested by A-6, a detective, seeks to effect her escape by artful strategy."​

    Cook notes that this can be preceded by plots 448 and 1,309b, and followed by 3b, 10a, and 16a — which involves A-6 finally catching up to B, but then falling in love with her.​

    It might seem confusing, but there is an app for that! This wonderful little tool randomizes the plots and spits them out, ready to use: Fiction Idea Generator

    I picked it up for $1, and I'm itching to use it. This is where you come in.

    I propose setting up the TFP Plotto Machine. TFP's writers, whether practicing or aspiring, will be the gears that produce the output: flash fiction.

    Here's how it works:

    1. Randomly generate a Plotto plot. (I've got this covered.)​
    2. Participating writers abide by the same Plotto outcome, writing a story no longer than 1,000 words.​
    3. Post the story within a 1-week deadline.​
    4. Read, enjoy, compare outcomes.​
    5. Bask in the majesty of TFP's creative members!​

    With the help of the illustrious roachboy, who has been my collaborator on this idea so far, I will set up the TFP Plotto Machine. We need your help getting the machine started and keeping it running.

    Do you have any New Year's resolutions? Do they include being more creative? How about writing? One way to improve your writing is a regular habit. This project will help you establish just that. It is an achievable goal, and you can participate as often or as little as you like.

    Do you write science fiction? Fantasy? Horror? Erotica? Mystery? Literary? Experimental? Want to try any or all of these? All is welcome and encouraged!

    Just getting started? A bit rusty from inactivity? This is the perfect opportunity to develop your chops. Some of you may know that a few of us participated in NaNoWriMo this year, and for me it was a great experience. However, I know much of what I wrote is really the work of an amateur. I want to work more at my craft. I'm sure some of you do to.

    The only way we'll get better is with practice. Consider this an opportunity to be a part of a writing group that helps you improve your craft. Constructive criticism/feedback isn't necessary, but you can ask for it if you wish, or you can opt out of it if you aren't comfortable with it.

    This is meant to be a space where creativity flourishes. This space is for you.

    So I invite you! What say you?

    Please post any questions, comments, feedback, or ideas regarding this project. This thread is to gauge interest and to work out the details.

    Let's hear it! Who's in?
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  2. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member Donor

    I'm in, if I can take weeks off now and again when writing for school gets to be too much.
  3. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Participation can certainly be week to week. A long-term commitment is not required. It can be a week here, a week there.

    It would be good to have you participate whenever you can, snowy!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Freetofly

    Freetofly Diving deep into the abyss Donor

    I was wondering what I would do with all this time on my hands since I finished my classes. Kinda of nervous, but I would love to try it out.
    I really want to learn to write better.
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Hey. We want to make this as accessible and friendly as possible, so if there is anything that can be done to help with the nerves, let us know.

    Regular participation in this should help improve our writing skills, so it will be interesting to see how we improve over time.
  6. Alistair Eurotrash

    Reading, UK
    Sure. Sounds fun. 1,000 words isn't much.

    I'm not quite clear on what it all is, but that will become apparent when we try it :)
  7. Joniemack

    Joniemack Beta brainwaves in session Donor

    Reading, UK
    I'm likely to be the most pedestrian of writers here but I would love to give it a go.
  8. mixedmedia

    mixedmedia ...

    Count me in. :)
  9. Depends, have some very busy weeks ahead but I'd like to try it at least once. Sounds like fun.
  10. grumpyolddude

    grumpyolddude Very Tilted Donor

    Think I'd like to give it a go. This old brain could use some flexing. What is the first assignment, Professor BG?
  11. Joniemack

    Joniemack Beta brainwaves in session Donor

    Reading, UK
    I reserve the right to back out if the plot line in anyway resembles anything Nicholas Sparks has written or if it's centered around vampires, werewolves or zombies.

    And I hope the exercises will not be limited to writing around this same static premise " Protagonists A and B, and their numerically designated friends, rivals and relatives all combine and compete in pursuit of love, money, success and sometimes even a mysterious item X."

    It reads like the back cover of a novel I'd generally pass over. Stories about the pursuit of love, money, or success aren't exactly my favorite stories to read. Depending on the leeway I'd have as the writer to wreck havoc on the classical models, I may hold out for the "mysterious item X."

  12. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    The one thing to realize, is that these aren't fully fleshed out plots. These are more like kernels. Up to 1,000 words isn't a lot, but you will have to flesh out some details in order to make the plot unfold in a way that's interesting.

    This is what I'm looking forward to. I want to see what each writer does with the same plot kernel.

    Plotto actually has a user's guide that gets into how-to, but I'm interested to see how this could work when applied to short short stories on a more basic level.
    --- merged: Dec 21, 2012 at 10:39 AM ---
    In the new year, I will post a new thread that will be for the TFP Plotto Machine Output #1. The OP will contain the randomized plot and a reiteration of the guidelines. It will be quite simple, really. Write a small story and post it before the deadline.

    Each Plotto output thread will be for the stories and any discussions about them.

    Any questions or comments about the whole process, however, will be handled in this initial thread here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2012
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Bodkin van Horn

    Bodkin van Horn One of the Four Horsewomyn of the Fempocalypse Donor

  14. Joniemack

    Joniemack Beta brainwaves in session Donor

    Reading, UK
    In looking more closely at the Fiction Idea Generator, I'm getting a better idea of how this is going to work.
  15. Zen

    Zen Very Tilted


    AKA I'm in :)
    • Like Like x 2
  16. roachboy

    roachboy Very Tilted Donor

    i think this sounds like great fun...the world according to plotto can be a very peculiar place.

    using a random generator to re-plot plotto as a way to set up plots for stories seems to me a most excellent.

    i'll be co-conspiring along the way and likely spelling baraka from time to time as cheerleader.

    looking forward to the new years...
  17. Zen

    Zen Very Tilted

    Hi. I totally could not resist having a bit of fun in my previous post ... my feelings of affirmation to Baraka's suggestion really DID need that youtube vid to validate them. I felt that intense.

    Y'see, I read his words:
    Those could have been MY words. Really.

    I feel totally proud of what I did for NaNoWrimo 2012. Fifty thousand words of shit. But MY shit, and fifty thousand words of it. Fifty fecking thosand. 'kyeah. But shit. 'kyeah.

    NaNoWriMo 2013, however, is a different matter. My Crapness is So totally obvious that I'd have to be illiterate not to identify and repair it. That is my goal. This time I am at the bottom of a different mountain than the one when you, Baraka, presented the would've-could've motivation that moved me to commit and engage. I know, with more than two days' notice, that Nov 2013, I will commence at least 50000 words. And I will be a different, better writer. Not coz I'm speshul/ Chrisie Hindes of the Pretenders ..... but cos the things I need to fix are no-brainers, once I've done my homework.

    Regarding which, I've joined a writer's website, and totally recommend it.
    Writing group and online writing workshop for serious writers | Scribophile.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2012
    • Like Like x 2
  18. Joniemack

    Joniemack Beta brainwaves in session Donor

    Reading, UK
    So when will our first Plotto be unveiled? I'm rarin' to go.
  19. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member Donor

    Coming soon to a thread near you! (Like, in minutes.)

    I just got home in this fresh new year, and now I'm going to set up the first thread with the first Plotto output!

  20. AlterMoose

    AlterMoose Slightly Tilted

    Sounds exciting! If I remember right, I wrote some halfway-decent short stories in high school. I'd like an excuse to try my hand at it again. This ought to be interesting.