Chapter two starts off with the reason that plotting is necessary for a solid story. Bell shares a couple of anecdotes about literary writes who disdained plot in favor of well crafted words. He points out that while well crafted words can be beautiful, they do not a story make and story is what keeps all but the most ardent of literary readers reading.
Myself, I have little use for literature. I do not mean to say that it is bad, of course not, I am simply not interested in it. Good writing yes, but not stuff I would call literature. 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, To Kill a Mockingbird, these I liked and I know they have story. His examples seem an extreme form of literature and most good literature does indeed have story. anyway. . .
What comes next is his own system to analyze the plot of any given story. He calls this the LOCK system. Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout.
Lead: A strong plot starts with an interesting lead, a character that grabs the attention of the reader. Pretty obvious, if your attention is not grabbed then you will put the old book down. Of course, he knows its obvious and he is not discovering new stuff here. My own book, hmm, the way I have started it I don't think the lead is particularly interesting and this is something I need to go back and rectify. On the other hand, there is a secondary character who takes the focus and sometimes I have wondered if in fact my secondary character is in fact really the lead.
Objective: This is the driving force for the lead. The is a want or a desire. The lead wants either to get something or to get away from something. After this he gives a few examples of objectives. No clear objective and the story flounders.
Confrontation: The enemy, the thing trying to stop your lead, to tear them down. he gives a good image of getting your lead up a tree, throwing rocks at him, and then getting him down. No confrontation will create boredom.
Knockout: The ending to a story must have power, a tie is not going to be good enough for the reader. I have trouble with this, I have always like my stories muddied, I like ambiguous endings where we wonder if anybody really won and so i have wanted to bring this to my own story. The problem here for me I think is running before I walked. Without the ability to deliver the solid ending, then trying for an ambiguous one will fall flat.
He next describe the difference between a literary plot and a commercial plot. He gives two simplistic diagrams, and he acknowledges they are so, with the commercial consisting of rising action to a knockout ending and literary lacking that rising action and instead have either a hopeful or an ambiguous ending. (Alright, I have misspelled ambiguous four times in a row)
Okay, I'm tired of this for the evening although a realization has come to me. looking at these two diagrams, I have been writing a commercial story using the literary plot structure. Interesting. Its flat like and inner journey with nothing much to say. well, 24 chapters of boredom. Woo hoo.