For the New Year, I thought it would be a good idea to get back to the core basics of fiction writing – plot, character, and setting. And for this week, let’s look at easy ways to plot.
The Best Plots
The best plots are simple but never predictable. You focus on one theme or a single controlling question. The plot tries to unravel or answer the question.
You give your character obstacles to overcome or a goal to pursue – something she is determined to see through to the end. And at the end, she is either victorious, defeated or unchanged by these events.
OK, so how does it work?
Let’s look at an example: A rich girl makes a New Year’s resolution to win back her ex-boyfriend – even though he is happily involved with a new girlfriend. She gives herself one year to achieve this plan.
After a series of failed attempts to get his attention, she is arrested for breaking into his home. And now she has to make a difficult decision. How long do you fight for something or someone you want? And when do you let go of the past and move on?
If this was your basic premise as a writer, you’d have a good foundation for a romantic comedy –and opportunity to explore the bittersweet power of ‘first loves’ and coming of age.
3 Ways To Get Started
- Write out a short 300-word synopsis, focusing on just three elements: inciting incident, midpoint, and climax.
- Try to write just a 100 words on each element, and use these to ‘anchor’ the rest of the story or novel. In the above example, the inciting incident would be the girl seeing her ex-boyfriend again on New Year’s Eve, the midpoint would when she manages to get him alone, and the climax is when she is arrested for ‘stalking’.
- Remember: the inciting incident is the catalyst, the midpoint is a culmination where a character faces a major obstacle, and in the climax she must overcome her biggest test or battle.
‘There are 32 ways to write a story, and I’ve used every one, but there is only one basic plot – things are not what they seem.’ –Jim Thompson
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- Write Your Novel In A Year
- The 6 Best Scenarios For Your Holiday Story
- Why Your Characters’ Names Are Your Secret Ingredient