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I'm on vacation today. Book club reader and author Carolyn Haines has kindly offered to fill in for me. Carolyn's column reminds me, "There's no place like home." Which is why my husband and I decided this year when our grandchildren, Seth and Bailey, came to visit, we would vacation in our own Sarasota, Florida backyard. Boating, fishing, lounging on the beach at Siesta Key, and of course baking chocolate chip cookies.
Thank you Carolyn for filling in for me. Carolyn would love to hear from you and she answers all of her mail. Her email address is at the end of her column.--Suzanne Beecher
Today's Guest Column by author Carolyn Haines...
Over the years, I've really enjoyed this column, and now I find myself "guest blogging." Because I love books and writing, this is a fun opportunity. I engage with readers all the time, and I also teach fiction writing at a university. This summer, I've spent a bit of time thinking--and talking with readers--about the difference between plot and story.
I teach my students that plot is what happens next in a book. These are the action (or in some cases emotional) moments that move a book forward. For instance, in THE WIZARD OF OZ, Dorothy gets caught in a tornado; crashes her house in Munchkinland and kills a witch; gets the ruby slippers; sets out to find a wizard, meets the scarecrow, tin man, and lion; escapes injury from Wicked Witch; is sent by the wizard to get a broomstick; melts the witch; escapes with broomstick; discovers the wizard is a fake; learns she can go back home by clicking her heels.
These are plot points (some are turning points) that happen in a logical way that brings drama to the story. Without action of some kind, a story becomes stagnant. But truly, this is a story about a young girl who learns the value of home and how powerful she truly is within herself.
Great books marry plot and story. Plot makes a reader turn the page, but story lassos the heart. I watched THE WIZARD OF OZ every fall with my family and the children who lived next door. It was a tradition that went on for years. Each October, when the movie was shown on TV, we gathered at my house.
My mother made pimento cheese sandwiches and hot chocolate as we all sat mesmerized on the floor of the den, spellbound by the terrifying apple trees that hurled apples at Dorothy. When the flying monkeys appeared, I would hide behind my mother, and there would be a massive shift in the room as all the children drew closer to us.
When Dorothy gets out of the hot air balloon basket to grab Toto (I always had bad dogs, too!) I felt sickening dread for her as the balloon takes off without her. Dorothy longs to go home, and she has lost her chance. She has risked so much to get back to Kansas, and now she is left behind.
Plot hooks us, but story captures our hearts.
When Glinda reappears and tells Dorothy she's always had the ability to go home, to simply click her heels--there's such power in that moment. All of the trials that Dorothy has suffered are validated in the emotion of her victory.
I watch this movie annually, even now. Of course I know what's going to happen. I know the plot. I watch because I love the story, the emotional impact and affirmation that Dorothy (and the rest of us) can change our destiny if we try hard enough. No matter if we mess up (as Dorothy did) we can still go home and be loved and forgiven.
Story includes thematic elements, or some writers would say, the bigger picture. Both story and plot are required for a masterpiece.
Email Carolyn and say hello. She answers all of her mail. You can reach her at: email@example.com
About Carolyn Haines
Carolyn is the author of the Sarah Booth Delaney Mississippi mystery series. The 11th book in the series, BONES OF A FEATHER, goes on sale June 21 at all book stores. She is an animal advocate and urges everyone to spay and neuter companion pets. www.carolynhaines.com
* To read more about FIVE DAYS IN SUMMER, and to enter this author's book giveaway, click on the link below, then click on FIVE DAYS IN SUMMER.
Katia Lief, today's featured author, writes...
Have you ever wondered how it would feel if someone you loved was in danger and you were powerless to help him? A notorious serial killer is bent on disabling Emily Parker so he can reach her son. Before returning home from a family vacation on Cape Cod, Emily makes a quick run to the grocery store--and vanishes.
To read more about FIVE DAYS IN SUMMER goto: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader