A story serves two masters. Two logics drive the page, the chapter, the tale.

Plot logic is one of them…the progression of events, ideas, circumstances that move the story toward a conclusion that—even when it’s a surprise—carries a sense of the Inevitable.

And there’s another logic, equally as important. An emotional logic. The inner “why” that creates an outer “what.” The developments of soul and heart (in the characters, not the writer—that’s another subject entirely) that propel the plot toward a more complete, more satisfying ending.

In each action throughout the plot, in each emotional condition, lay the seeds of the conclusion. Each one grows the story; suggests it, points to it, crafts it. X does Y, then does Z…but it’s the emotional context, the inward acts, that give the actions depth and color and impetus and form. With the exception of those “Deus ex machina” plot twists, the two logics are form and its shadow, locked together in every step.

As we read, as we write, follow the logic. Both of them. See where they diverge, where they twine, where they seem to divorce themselves from one another. When emotional logic and plot logic seem to break from one another, keep watch with open eyes: Something unexpected is about to happen.

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