Writing Tips by JT Scott
Author of the Sammy Rambles series about a boy and his dragon.
This is a short series of writing tips which will feature each month and offer tips and advice on how to create a story. Part 2 covers how to come up with ideas for creating a memorable plot.
Part 2 – What will happen in your story?
Last month, we covered how to create characters for your story and now it’s time for them to do something. The term plot is used to describe the events and actions in your story which set the scene and progress the story to its conclusion.
Maybe there is a problem that needs to be solved? Maybe something is lost and needs finding? Perhaps a crime has been committed? Is there a romance blossoming? Or a monster to be defeated?
These are common themes in stories which enable your characters to interact with each other.
- Journey stories, where the characters grow or learn something, also known as Coming of Age.
- Losing something, perhaps a cat, a house, or a friend. Is there a consequence of the loss?
- Finding something, by accident or on a quest. Is it treasure, does anyone know about it?
- Love, romance, erotica, typically people meet, fall in love or lust. Do they act on their feelings?
- Crime themes include ‘whodunit’, murders, thefts and the legal or vigilante fight for justice.
- Horror stories tap into our innermost fears. Monsters, ghosts, zombies, blood and gore.
- Fear of something, maybe spiders, strange noises, getting lost, suffocating, drowning or dying.
Most writers are drawn to one type of plot or another although many times the themes will overlap and jigsaw together. Imagine a young ghost that falls in love with someone who is afraid of dying. The ghost can never be human and the human doesn’t want to die. Can they ever be together?
Mapping out your plot and planning your story is crucially important, either right at the beginning, or when you edit along the way. When writing the Sammy Rambles books, I started writing with only an idea about having a boy and a dragon in my story. It was when I started thinking and asking myself questions, such as where did Sammy get his dragon from? An egg? Who gave him the egg? Why?
As I answered my own questions, I found it was obvious that Sammy would receive a dragon egg on his first day at the dragon school and then for him to find out there was an enemy who wanted to kill the dragons which Sammy and his friends need to defeat. That, in essence, is my plot.
Having a timeline of the events in your story, written on paper or computer can be helpful. You can map out what happens, when, to whom and why. If you have read part one of this series, you will have one or more characters ready to slot into your plot.
Next month, the writing tips will cover where things will happen in your story, how to create a believable and memorable location for your characters to interact.