Building a Plot

Plots are something that every novelist needs, whether they’re for a story barely beginning or for a story near completion. The plot isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you create a story, though, and it’s entirely possible to write the first draft of a book without a true idea of what the plot actually is.

The plot also has a lot to do with whether you’re a gardener or an architect writer. Some people prefer not to know what their story is going to be about, and others prefer to know every last detail about their story before beginning the writing. But the real question is, how do you create a plot from a simple idea?

Well it’s not too hard, actually. More often than not, plots are driven by conflict. What you have is only the beginning of an idea, and from that seed you’ve planted in your mind, you can easily turn it into more.

I’ll use Taichiren’s Heart as an example.

The story originally began as a short, 1000 word story. There was no conflict, only incredible visuals without any structure. There was no real “beginning”, “climax”, “conflict”, or even an ending. You were introduced to two characters who met under unusual circumstances, and that was all. While it wasn’t enough to create a story, it was the beginning of something good, the beginning of something that mattered.

I honestly can’t say whether or not this works for everyone, as I’m no pro, but it worked for me.

I started with the desire to turn my fraction of an idea into something longer. I asked myself questions about what I created, and from the answers I gave myself, my story was born.

“Why was Kristinn in the meadow?” She was running away [escaping] from something. ->

“Why was Mydeth in the meadow?” She had dropped her mirror from her city, Freywyn. ->

“What’s Freywyn?” The elven city that floats in the sky.

And on, and on, and on. It may take a while, but it’s entirely possible to create a story with the use of the simple q&a method. You start with an idea, and you push that idea until it turns into a captivating story. Find that conflict, find those characters, and find the story that’s hiding inside your brain.

How do you build your plots?

~Erynn

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2 thoughts on “Building a Plot

  1. I can’t remember where I heard this, whether it was a writing teacher or an author or someone else completely, but they suggested asking “Why?” ten times for every question to get the details of your story fleshed out. For example: How did he get to the park? He walked. Why did he walk? His bike was in the shop. Why was his bike in the shop? It got smashed by a car when he was trying to save a little girl, etc. I don’t actually sit and count out how many times I ask why, but I do try to delve deeper into the answers of my questions. It’s a similar process to yours, and it’s made for some great plot details that I don’t think I’d ever get to otherwise.

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    • Ah, yeah that’s really similar! It definitely does help nail out a lot of extra details. Even if a lot of those details don’t add a lot directly to the story, they always end up adding another layer of welcomed depth. 🙂

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