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Thoughts on Plot and Structure: A Fairy Tale


I've been writing online content for nearly a year and a half now. I like to experiment with different styles and genres.

Portable typewriter in Hemingway's Key West home, where he did 70% of his writing.  Photo used with photographer's permission.

Portable typewriter in Hemingway's Key West home, where he did 70% of his writing. Photo used with photographer's permission.

Thoughts on Plot and Structure: A Fairy Tale

If you say that plots are limited, that there are only so many ways a story can go, can move its way into the reader’s mind, walk around and influence things while it’s there, can end…if you are one who says that, my assessment is you have erred, miscalculated, misspoken.

You might think you know where the plot will go, but who’s to say? It might go this way, perhaps that way, which way and sideways, hither and yon, far beyond that knoll, the one beyond the next knoll. If the knoll is the center of a compass, and by mere degree, the story might go from there 360 different directions, then turn back on itself, start all over at the middle and head out again, from a different spot on the rose. The knolls, too, could multiply in great numbers, produced by the writer’s imagination, extant in the world of his/her creation, each one with its own compass rose. They each will then be what they will ultimately be, what they can be, what they are, as the pen moves across paper, as the keyboard clacks, as the typewriter return bell dings, as the fan on the laptop blows and blows on a hot summer day, trying as it might to stay ahead of the 100-degree heat, the absence of humidity that’s driven him indoors unless she has access to very dark outside shade often visited by cooling winds, and also accoutered with a quiet workstation.

And power. There must also be power.

There might, too, in the story the writer writes be murder and mayhem, truth and justice, lies and evil, twisted sisters plotting revenge against an evil stepmother. Or there may be a nice, caring, loving birth mother and a doting dad. Or an unsuspecting dad. Or a suspecting, maybe suspicious-looking and -acting dad, even. There could be a boy, an innocent boy with a young sister, both of whom are pursued relentlessly, unscrupulously by a woman with a long, skinny, crooked nose adorned on its very tip with the largest and hairiest of warts. They might meet in the woods, or on the streets of Zagreb, or just south of there where the Sava-Odra flows, and who knows?

Maybe the woman with the wart on her nose will arrive near sunset as the little boy and girl are fishing for Prussian Carp, catching them, bagging them, saving them for a dinner or three. The boy might look directly into the eyes of the long-nosed woman, turn and throw his sister into the canal, where she will bob and struggle, splash her arms, kick her legs. Screaming at first, she will finally swallow a huge gulp of dark green-brown river water, drown alone, sinking, floating away and away and away until she is no longer in view.

And the woman and the boy might walk together hand in hand, home to her abode where there is a fire and utensils to use in the cooking of a feast of fish. He may become the son the old woman never had, or he may be the one who later also pushes her into the river Odra, thus becoming master and owner of the house.

He might take a bride and become a most respected town elder, or he might grow old, die alone. Or, instead of dying all by himself at an old, miserable age, he might find the love of his life at that same age. And then perhaps not long after that he will die suddenly, once he is indubitably, hopelessly, deeply, madly, truly in love for the first time in his entire life, and he realizes it, knows it to be true beyond all specter of doubt.

For example, on the same day he realizes he is ever so much in love for the first time in his extra-long life, he might also learn he is allergic to the proteins in bee venom. He might learn this after he is stung by a bee working in the flower bed where he and his love are sitting, enjoying a digestif, watching the brilliant orange-red and ruby orb sink below the far horizon, followed by the slightest hint of a green flash as it finally winks out, makes way for the many specks of starlight willing and waiting, vying for their chance to adorn the night sky.

Then, a lone night worker, a little yellow-and-black-striped aerodynamic wonder, seeking the precious, succulent nectar of those buds which only open at night, might see the man as a threat, an obstacle on her path of tangible progress, and the progress of her coworkers, as well. She might dive toward the old man just as he is leaning in for that just-past-dark kiss of his lover’s luscious red lips and sting him on the cheek bone just below his eye. A quick hand will reach up and swat at the cheek, the burn will set in, the face will begin to swell, the woman of his dreams will shriek, step back in horror, put her hands over her eyes as the old man’s face grows, balloons, rounds, distorts.

It is interesting, fascinating, intriguing, the woman thinks, as she peeks through slits in slightly opened fingers, to watch wrinkles shrink, fade, then disappear from his face as it inflates. Less trancing is the loud violent struggle for breath as his lungs and insides swell and otherwise adversely react to the venom which he’d not known he was allergic to until just now, just that one single nanosecond before his heart stops beating, and he topples over onto the ground.

The narrator might then describe the sobbing woman kneeling over the swollen, lifeless body of the old man, which is lying on the grass just below and beside the concrete bench where he was just about to kiss the woman, his first-ever love, for the first-ever time in his very long life.

Or not. You just never know. Maybe the long-nosed woman’s wart doesn’t have hair on it after all. Lots of different ways a story like that could go.

© 2021 greg cain


greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 08, 2021:

Denise - I was thinking he’d probably wish he’d kissed the woman sooner, or some someone sooner. Perhaps, just maybe, maybe the idea that being good doesn’t always get you a good ending, or being bad doesn’t get you a bad ending is a lesson to be had in this winding, wending piece, too. Somewhere in between is a pretty good place for most of us, trying to live our best life every day. It’s not all black and white, there’s grey and neon green like a military fire truck, too. Anyway, thanks for giving this a read and for the wonderful point to ponder. It makes me wonder if sometimes we start with a point to make or sometimes we start our musings not knowing where we will wander. Again, good day, good weekend, and thanks for reading!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 07, 2021:

Fairy tales have a kind of moral or lesson to be learned. What do you think the old man would have learned at the moment of death... or not? Great story directions.



greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 07, 2021:

Brenda - isn't it so! I am working on harnessing more of the wild, but struggling to make the time. It's there, I just have to make it. Thanks again to you for taking the time to read it through, Brenda. Much appreciated.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 07, 2021:

John - yes, indeed. Am reading a couple books now: Arabian Nights and Something Wicked (Bradbury). Timeless displays of wonderful, wandering imagination. Thanks, as always, for the kind words from the land down under, John.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 06, 2021:


There are alot of stories to tell.

Our imaginations have a way of running wild.

Nice take on it.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 06, 2021:

Oh, I loved this, Greg. There very well maybe just a handful of basic storylines, but it is all those twists and turns that our individual minds can come up with that keeps the stories and endings interesting and unique. Great job.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 06, 2021:

Thanks, Sha Sha! This was a fun one to put together, random write trying to get to 1000 words in short order yesterday. Anyway, I enjoyed doing it, that's for sure. I appreciate your always-too-kind words, appreciate you, too. Hope you also have a wonderful weekend! Bestest.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 06, 2021:

The best writers are those who keep the reader in suspense. And just when the reader thinks s/he's figured out the ending, said best writer throws a punch that no one saw coming.

You, my friend, are in the category of best writer.

Have a great weekend, Box!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on August 06, 2021:

Thanks, Bill. Yes, gives us writers hope, for sure, and it’s why we keep chugging every day. Hope you have a good weekend, too. All the best!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 06, 2021:

Here we are, back to the universal themes. :) As long as there are talented writers, there will always be new, refreshing novels written, no matter what the theme might be. Hell, the same themes have existed for thousands of years and yet, somehow, there have been some pretty good books written during that time. Gives us writers hope, you know? Of course you do! Have a great weekend, my friend.

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