Seven Basic Plots

Entry by: Caroline Bletso

29th January 2016
Please give me a good score.

I know this isn’t the remit and probably not in keeping with the spirit of the thing, but I’d really appreciate you putting aside your petty grievances and giving me a good score, please.

If someone petitioned me likewise, said: okay, let’s prank the system, let’s give a disastrous candidate a good score – a perfect score – I’d say: sure, why not? The problem is: I *like* chutzpah, I *love* panache. (Both present here.) I’d rather elevate two thousand iterations of the word poo to the height of kings (ok hang on, let’s be serious for a moment. How might we – you, you, you and I – duke the stats and make two thousand iterations of the word poo, literally, as meritorious as something effortful, dedicated, beautiful and profound? Here’s how: 1. we each open 100 dummy accounts. 2. we pay one admission per dummy. [100x£3 = £300 MINUS £200 EQUALS £100, for I shall issue a subsidy.] 3. we each submit two thousand iterations of the word poo 100 times over, a total of 200,000 iterations of the word poo each [800,000 all inclusive]. 4. marking: I’m not committed enough to do the math, but I’d posit the chance of ONE of our 100 dummy accounts NOT being foured up with triple dummy-markers is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so 5. dish out perfect scores to the poos, and ENDGAME.) than something effortful, dedicated, beautiful and profound. That being said, most will consider this submission a piece of shit. Most might consider two thousand I. o' t' W.P. more deserving, braver, sophisticated (conceptually), therefore: giving me a good score *is* an act of rebellion, an act of rebellion against the tyranny of public opinion. I ask you, you and you to rebel, please. (Just not against me.) Please give me a good score.

It’ll be like in She’s All That (1999) (1).

But that doesn’t explain *why* I’m asking.

The truth is – and this really is true – my grandma is 94 years old and has lung cancer. She is a small woman, not frail – she’s light, wiry. She reaches up and throws her arms around my neck to kiss my face and the tubes in her nose scratch my cheek. We don’t speak – not often, not often enough. Because I am terrified of her – this small woman, who once gifted me a bottle of Blue Star antifreeze for Christmas, antifreeze she won in a raffle – she forgot to remove the pink [her lucky number] stuck to it. She loves me, but *thinks* little of me. She worked hard as a nurse all her life (I’m not sure how best to please you; is it by keeping this brief so as not to bore you, or with verbosity to prove hard graft?) whilst I live at home with my parents. When she asks me what I’m doing with my life I am unable to say ‘I am a writer’, out of cruel arrogance or pathetic shame, because what I mean when I say ‘I am a writer’ is ‘I believe nursing should be done by robots to give people more time to write’ and what my grandma thinks I mean when I say ‘writer’ is ‘bum.’ Because the value of the occupation writer is so often tricky to quantify, unlike that of nurse whose value throbs like a heart. Which is why I ask you, please, give me a good score. So I may tell grandma I got a good score. (2)

And so – because the pecuniary benefit interests me less than the wellbeing of the relationship I share with the woman who once housed in her womb the woman whose womb housed me; because my motive isn’t profit; because I am good – I will donate the monetary supplement, the one that arrives attached to the honour of victory, to charity, namely Hodgkin’s Sick Son and Wallaby – an Australian organisation committed to ‘Improving the wellbeing of [Oliver Hodgkin’s] sick son and wallabies, through strategic investment, lobbying and non-violent direct action – specifically chaining [ourselves] by the throat to the ankles of wild cats, foxes and expensive pieces of medical machinery.’ (That’s a joke, of course; I will in actuality donate the money to Save the Children.) (3)

Ok so I don’t know you. You don’t know me. As Jules Winnfield says, personality goes a long way. With that in mind I’ve included a brief roster or manifesto – if you like – of my most dearly-held beliefs to aid my application: 1. I believe nursing should be done by robots to give people more time to write. 2. I believe fire should be banned to give people – firemen – more time to write. 3. I believe laws should be made illegal to give people – policemen & today’s so-called ‘criminals’ – more time to write. (Bandits, for example, would be much more effective in their work minus the fuzz, without having to waste time constructing gaudy disguises, building hideouts and training fast horses, time that could better be spent – after an exhilarating holdup – perusing a good book or jotting down one’s thoughts about the wingspan of owls, the intimacy of death, the colour of kidneys, nuclear disarmament, the decline of the wild bird by the claw of the domesticated cat, climate change, cuts to mental health services, tax avoidance &c.) 4. I believe in operating holograms out of bathtubs paid for by holidaymakers. 5. I believe – given the genetics industry time to flourish unregulated – in adapting to make toothed the body’s every penetrable orifice. This, I believe, is the necessary basis for a functioning anarchist, utopian society. 6. I believe in angels. 7. Lastly, I believe in a national basic income equivalent to the living wage, paid for by a tax on wealth, mansions, cars, poor table manners, swearing, stupidity, boredom, violence, the exploitation of essential utilities for profit, the ransoming of healthcare and trains and electricity and heating and good food and clean water and watertight homes and Twiglets, greed, institution, inhumanity, Inverness, personalised number plates and humourlessness. A basic income would give people more time to write.

(Probably I should have played a better strategy here as I don’t know you, as I operate out from under a veil of ignorance. I should’ve stuck to generic principles like freedom, equality, security & peace and the triumph of good over evil, but I drank a few mugs of green tea out from under the false assumption that green tea is caffeine free and now I’m much too excited to remain reasonable.) (4)

I don’t know you. You don’t know me. But if we met we would cuddle. (5)

(Please give me a good score.)

If I were reading this I’d be thinking the same things you are. Meta-writing is easy. Anyone can do it. You or you or you could have written this. If it were incumbent on me to score this application – and it wasn’t my own – I would need much convincing to score this application favourably. The problem: we know this is an exercise. We know the stimulus and can perceive how the applicant has interpreted it: seven basic plots to win a writing competition: stimulus: Seven Basic Plots. (1. an appeal to your inherent revolutionary spirit, 2. an appeal to the necessity of you having or having had a grandma, 3. an appeal to your inherent charitable, social instinct. 4. an appeal to your inherent sense of social justice, 5. flattery, love and kindness, 6. honesty and 7. to follow.) Honestly I am stuck now. Honestly my grandma isn’t sick. She’s 78 and sprightly. Honestly I wouldn’t give the money to charity. I donate £8 a month to Greenpeace because I believe in non-violent direct action as an essential means to achieving social change. (I believe the activists from Plane Stupid who blockaded planes at Heathrow in protest against expanding the runway are heroes – they literally make my heart race.) Honestly I believe Capitalism has been jolly wonderful up until now, but today – since many corporations make billions and pay little or no tax while our dearly-held public services are slashed; while children – who somehow we can’t afford to help – drown fleeing warzones, their little bodies washed up on the beaches; while economic and environmental stability destabilises, driven by self-interest, the same self-interest that once sucked oil out of rocks to power hospital generators – Capitalism is an obsolete system; it’s time for us all to be a little more imaginative. (You know, granting me a good score will raise the profile of these views, making honesty an unreliable tool like a flaky hammer – you may wish to suppress me!) Honestly I would give you a cuddle if we met. I don’t see why not. Unless you don’t have a body. Perhaps you’re a kind of intelligent gas – or a primitive fluid. I might struggle to hug you if you’re fluid or gas. But I would certainly give it a try. (6)

Hasn’t this been fun? (Honestly I don’t know. Probably it’s been annoying, a bit smug.)

Go on (why not?) give me a perfect score.

Why not?

Lastly – plot the seventh; this should be reserved for further deconstruction. To pull back again and say honestly, plot number six, honesty, was a plot, too – I said it was – and none of that was true neither. My grandma is, in fact, dead and buried. I hate Greenpeace – crusty troublemakers. The law is the law. Etc. Etc. I could 'have my cake and eat it' – say, I am trying to be honest here, honesty isn’t honest – and then try my darndest to end on a sincere note, something that reveals an intimate, individual truth – because that’s what's important, right? great [predominantly white, male] American novelists of the world – individual truths? Isn’t it? What could *I* possibly write deserving of your perfect score? I do not know. So instead I am going to use every last one of my remaining, precious words – words that could be better used trying to eke more points out of you – to give you a taster of what could be achieved if we each put aside our petty grievances and pulled together: poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo poo- GOOD LORD! As I was doing this I realised: so long as I don't put spaces in between the poos, eg poopoo, they read as one word(!) which means we *CAN* have 2000 iterations of the word poo after all! So this *IS* your opportunity to elevate 2000 iterations of the word poo to the height of kings(!) This is your *ONE AND ONLY* chance to score 2000 poos perfect!

(Don't let it slip through your fingers [then please wash your hands].)

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