How To Find a Plot (and Subplot!) for Your Story

Most of the time it's the easiest option to settle for the first thing that comes to mind. Creating thought does not settle for laziness. Creating costs time and energy, so we tend to avoid it the most.

How To Find a Plot (and Subplot!) for Your Story

I always struggle with finding a perfect plot for my stories. I have a stash of awesome characters, but as soon as I put them together nothing is happening. It's dull and not interesting. I'm bored, my reader is bored. Maybe I should just rewrite the whole thing? If you ever felt the same frustration, this post with help you discover the plots and subplots of your story.

"What is my story about? Who is it about? What will happen?" — Forget about this system.

This is the worst way to go. Writing is simpler than that. Instead of "What? Who? and Where?" I suggest the set of following: Who is the character? What does the character want more than anything? And how can I prevent them from getting it?

I like using the cartoon Up as an example so let's run each set of questions through it.

What is my story about? Who is it about? What will happen?

It is a story about an old man and a boy going on an adventure in a flying house. Ok, it's not bad, but it's quite simplistic structure.

Who is the character?

What does the character want more than anything?

And how can I prevent them from getting it?

An elderly man, who wants to fulfill his wife's dream to move their house to a cliff overlooking Paradise Falls. And for how can you prevent him from doing so? The options are endless: an annoying little boy scout getting stuck in the man's house, a hurricane, the deflating balloons on the house, and even the old man's hero, Charles Muntz himself.

The secret to finding a plot is exploring possibilities.

Most of the time it's the easiest option to settle for the first thing that comes to mind. Creating thought does not settle for laziness. Creating costs time and energy, so we tend to avoid it the most. What if I told you there's a shortcut? And it's lists. Lists are a great way to discover ideas, plus it's fun! It is mostly about developing your character, making him/her more realistic. Here are some basic ideas to consider:

  • Create a list of dreams/goals your character has
  • Create a list of fears/bad things that could happen with your character
  • Create a list of physical features your character could have
  • Create a list of places your character could live in
  • Create a list of relevant experiences that helped form their character
  • Create a list of things they have experienced growing up
  • Create a list of their skills and interests
  • Create a list of their flaws and positive traits

People familiar with character analysis will find that a lot of these questions are the same to simply creating a character. Yes, they are. But when the question is who is your story about, a defined character will help you reveal your plot. But apart from the basic where does he/she live and what does he dream about there are some other options to get you started. Like:

  • Create a list of dreams for your antagonist (another defined character)
  • Create a list of realistic situations within your fictional world
  • Think within the genre you are writing. If it's a romance, it could be:
  • Places for the first kiss
  • Common goals
  • Things that can set a couple apart
  • Common interests

So you have your lists. What's next? Go back, read them all over again. Chances are 90% of them will be scrapped, but you will see new plot opportunities in the other 10%. Pick the most interesting bits and create your lot around them.

Until Next Time,

Arina Jacor 

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