Writers Write is a writing resource. In this post, we share five plot hacks for finding a story quickly.
Maybe you’re stuck for a new idea for your next story, or struggling to come up with a hook to hang your plot on. Maybe you’re thinking of taking part in NaNoWriMo and need a workable plot in a hurry.
Here are five easy ways to find a plot:
- Give a classic a cool twist. The classics can give you a great ‘template’ for a modern novel. You could make Macbeth a CEO of a major company who’s manipulated into leading a hostile takeover. Perhaps Madame Bovary becomes a comic house husband who can’t stop spending his rich wife’s money.
- Kill someone in chapter one. Nothing sparks a plot like a character dying in the opening scenes. It could be a private investigator looking into his partner’s death — he’s determined to find the killer. In a drama, an estranged mother’s suicide can set a daughter on a quest to find the truth of her mother’s life. Mysteries allow you to connect dots — and that’s basically what plot is all about.
- Start with setting. Setting can spark plot and inform character. You could start with an exclusive tropical beach resort and then start ‘populating’ it with characters — an unhappy couple of honeymoon, a tanned Romeo who runs a charter company, or a beautiful hotel maid with a dark secret. Once you have your cast, have something go wrong. A terrible cyclone, a hostage situation, or someone dies —see point 2.
- Mine your own life. Most novels are autobiographical to some degree – so why not use your own experiences in your story. That love affair you had in college could be the next Love Story. Or the time you went on a caravanning holiday with your best friend and her family could be a funny family road trip story. All you have to do is change the names, ramp up the conflict, and you could have a story you feel confident in writing and emotionally connected to.
- Make anti-plot work for you. Forget the formulas and neat structures of writing — and break the rules. Taking risks raises adrenaline and that can help you write quicker. So … instead of someone dying in chapter one, have someone almost die or come back from the dead. Instead of a classic story line, rewrite your favourite cheesy movie’s plot from a minor character’s view point — like the dog. Instead of chapters, write the story in Tweets or Facebook posts.
Get started today!
The idea is not to agonise over plot — but to have something ‘usable’ as you set out to write your first draft. Things will change as you rewrite and edit, which is a good thing, but don’t let fear of plot stop you from starting.
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