I consider myself a poet, an editor, and (fingers crossed) soon-to-be homebrewer. Rarely do I think of myself as a writer, making it rather unsurprising that this is my first legitimate blog post, although I’ve now had my WordPress for months.
So I suspect that Kate Hammerich, my co-editor over at cahoodaloodaling, included a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing in the last batch of books she sent me more as a sneaky ploy to make me a Stephen King fan than as a means to give me tips on dialogue or make a case against adverbs. (Should I address that elephant? I am not a Stephen King fan. I don’t dislike his writing, in fact, I think he’s a fine writer, but his books have never done it for me. I’m just not that kind of girl. Out of the four or five Stephen King books I have now read, this is my favorite.)
Kate certainly didn’t send it to me for King’s section on plot development – which he’s more or less against. King’s attitude towards plotting actually surprised me; I, I suppose naively, assumed most major writers spend time on plot development, instead of organically letting the characters develop the story.
And then King introduced me to the Edgar Wallace Plot Wheel.
I had never seen one of these, but sure enough, type Plot Wheel into the grand old googlemeister and up pops several different Plot Wheels.
Apparently these were extremely popular in the 1920s for aspiring (and some successful) writers. Stuck in the middle of your story and don’t know where to take it? Spin the wheel, and perhaps your “Hero declares his love” or you “High-tail-it” out of there.
History lesson aside, several of the Plot Wheels I found have obviously been updated since the 1920s. I doubt, for example, that “Raped by hero” would have been included, even in the roaring twenties. How frightfully uncouth! Also, with options like those, it’s obvious that the Plot Wheel is not only being used in primary and secondary creative writing classes. Somebody has to be using these. Who?
If you’re out there, please, come defend the Plot Wheel. I am truly curious how this translates from the 1920s murder mystery to today’s fiction.