7 Elements for the perfect plot


You want to write a short story and/or a novel.  What’s the first thing you need?  You’re right…an idea, but what comes after that?

A plot.  Some people think a plot line is easy, but it’s a little bit more than boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy gets girl.  So boring.  What you need is meat, substance, and that comes in the form of the following, pretty much in this order:

  • Aspiration/goal – What does your MC want?
  • Game plan – how does your MC devise to get what (s)he wants?
  • Weakness – what are the flaws and/or obstacles that will keep the MC from getting what s(he) wants?
  • 1st, maybe 2nd and 3rd defeat – Choose how many times the MC must fall and get back up.  Torture him/her.
  • Final showdown – The battle of all battles where the MC shines and kicks some serious butt
  • Self-revelation – What does the MC learn about him/her self?
  • Resolution – Wrap it up.  Show the MC’s strength and resolve and most of all, how (s)he changed/grew from the beginning to the end of the story.  Does the MC get what (s)he wanted or did the goal change?

Plot it out in your head or on paper, then write your heart out.  Good luck to your MC, and may (s)he get what (s)he desires.

Happy writing.

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9 thoughts on “7 Elements for the perfect plot

  1. Like Jamie said… straight and to the point, but very hard to do at times. I think it is very important to plot out all these things in advance. Otherwise, you may find yourself writing in circles with no real direction or growth to the characters.

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    1. I agree. Plotting a plot, whether in your head or on paper, certainly helps. However, I tend to write like a pantser. I have a direction I want to go, I know what I want to happen, but I let my characters lead me. Reason: In life, no one has a crystal ball. Even though we set goals and have a vision, life get in the way and we have to shift gears, plot a new course. I like the spontaneity of writing like that. I like the element of surprise that confronts my characters and me as a writer. My problem is my procrastination. There always seems to be some sort of drama with the real life characters surrounding me I have little time to focus on the imaginary ones. 🙂

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      1. I’ll slap you around about that procrastination thing later. But I agree… You don’t always have to have a solid outline, but I do think you at least need to know WHERE YOU ARE GOING to make sure you are headed in the right direction. Without that, you are setting yourself up for dozens of painful deleted scenes.

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  2. You make it sound so easy, but it really is hard, grueling work. Some days I’d rather go for a run (and I hate running; it hurts my knees). This advice is a condensed version of what Larry Brooks advises in Story Engineering.

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