Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Young Adult Books–Alternative Structure

on March 22, 2013

I’ve been drafting a story about my work with teens in the poetry workshop at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. (You can see their poems on their blog here.)

One of the challenges of this story is I am not using a traditional Aristotle goal oriented, action based plot structure. Instead the story contains vignettes, poetry from the workshop, and some flash pieces told in second person. Recently, I found this great blog post by VCFA student, Ingrid Sundberg, Time to Punk Rock with Plot: Discovering Alternative Plot Structures with YA Lit. Ingrid talks about plot structures. She makes reference to one called “The Ensemble Plot” and says:

This plot concerns a variety of protagonists where no character is more dominant than another. The plot explores multiple voices, consciousnesses, and takes place within a single location. Character storylines can interweave or be independent. This often becomes a portrait of a place rather than a portrait of a person with a particular goal. Film examples include: The Big Chill, Crash, and Dazed and Confused. JUMPED by Newberry Winner, Rita Williams-Garcia is a great example of the Ensemble Plot in a young adult book.



Ingrid’s blog post also talks about another plot structure called the “Daisy Chain Plot.” This is a type of plot I’ve seen in many romance stories I’ve read such as the series by Lori Wilde, The Wedding Veil Wishes Series.


The Daisy Chain Plot

There is no central protagonist in a Daisy Chain Plot. Instead the plot follows a chain of characters or an object as it’s passed from one character to the next. Each character’s story is told in whole, but their story is short and often self-contained. Examples of this type of plot include the films The Red Violin, Twenty Bucks, and Slacker. Even though Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY follows a single protagonist there is an element of the Daisy Chain Plot in the device that brings out the chain of characters in the story.

Have you written a story with an alternative plot structure? What type did you use?  Here is the link to the blog post by Ingrid Sundberg.










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