What is meant by "conventional" and "unconventional" when used to describe plots?For my summer study guide for the Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, I received the question: What are some of...

What is meant by "conventional" and "unconventional" when used to describe plots?

For my summer study guide for the Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, I received the question:

What are some of the conventional and unconventional aspects of the plot? Explain the differences. Are they effective?

I've never heard of the terms "conventional" and "unconventional" to describe plots before. Please clarify the meaning of this question. I'm not trying to find the answer to the question; I'm trying to find out exactly what is meant by it. What would define conventional? What would define unconventional?

Thank you!

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kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Much of the idea of a traditional plot centers around the way a plot is developed around a given story.  A traditional plot has an exposition, a rising action, a climax, and a denouement and in that order.  It appears to be somewhat predictable but it has served effectively in so many stories and movies and just about any other form of narrative art that I can think of.

So an unconventional plot may change any one of these elements, leave one out, or switch their order around.  For example, instead of leaving the climax until the middle or towards the end, a story may bring it out right at the beginning and then use flashbacks or other techniques to handle the exposition throughout the story.

hanooch's profile pic

hanooch | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted on

I think that by conventional and unconventional they mean traditional and not-traditional, as in not widely used.

Like what is normal for a plot and what is original in the plot of the book. I would think an unconventional plot would be something new with an unexpected twist. A conventional plot would be something we would all be able to guess, a well known plot.

Sorry for not being able to give you a concrete answer; I have not read that book so I cannot give you any examples =)

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