At the core of a conventional plot is conflict. It can be physical, between antagonists; it can be moral or psychological; or a spiritual struggle within the character himself/herself, such as vice or virtue carried to excess. Sometimes external conflicts are just projections of internal ones.
The order in which the events take place is important. They can be in chronological order or in flashback. When you use flashback, and reveal the outcome of the story at the beginning, this inverted order forces the reader to shift interest from what happens to why and how it happened.
The following are guidelines and not rules because, like poetry, there are no real rules. Each story depends on the author’s sensitive handling of the situation . Many writers break all traditional rules, yet come up with brilliantly-executed works. However, in general, plots should include:
- Abstract values representing good vs. evil in the major conflict situation.
- An urgent MUST with its obvious CANNOT.
- Contrasting characters in action, each strongly motivated in efforts to achieve a definite goal.
- Apparent insolubility of the problem, with an ingenious solution that is credible though surprising.
- A moral theme or premise to which the story action serves sd s parable, proving a worthwhile philosophy.
- An individual style that expresses you and yet fits the subject matter, the time, the place and the characters.
When you plot a story, try first to write a synopsis – just a brief outline. What is the problem? (This is what interests the reader). What are the obstacles, the fictional frustrations,and alternate them with temporary triumphs (providing suspense). This leads up to the crisis, and the climax which resolves the problem.
To help you, I’ll give you 3 typical situations you can use:
They were a devoted couple for years, yet when her invalid mother died and she was free to marry him, their relationship suddenly ended.
A prostitute passes a garden where a small blind boy is playing/ She knows he is her son. Could you develop this story without sentimentality?
Nobody liked her for good reason. Yet, when she suddenly died, a number of people felt a deep sense of loss.
Play around with these ideas … you may come up with a really good story.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any help with your writing; or if you want to buy any of my books … a new one is coming out today – a novella “Searching for Sarah”.