Every story needs a plot, a conflict to resolve or obstacle to overcome. The longer your story the more conflict you need. Some new writers get confused what the plot of their story is, they write great description or dialogue but fail to see that their story hasn’t actually got a plot.
So let’s take a look at the definition of plot. To put it simply, the plot is what your story is about. It is a plan of action that is achieved through cause and effect. The cause is why your protagonist does what he/she does and the effect is what happens as a result of what he/she does. EM Forster gave us a classic example of this:
The King died. And the Queen died. This is a fact.
The King died and the Queen died of grief. This is a plot.
So you need a conflict in your story, a problem for your protagonist to overcome. In a short story one major conflict will usually be enough, but for a novel you will need a major conflict and smaller conflicts throughout the story to add pace and tension. These smaller conflict will be resolved as the story progresses, with the main conflict being resolved at the end.
You might find it helpful to ask yourself these six things when plotting your story.
Who? Who is the main character? And who, if there is one, is the villain of the piece? Who are the supporting characters? Supporting characters are great for adding back-story, humour and interest but don’t let them overshadow the main character.
What? What is the story about? What is the character’s problem? What is he/she struggling against? What does he want? What is the character’s motivation? Remember, the stronger the motive, the stronger the story.
Where? Where does your character live? Where is the setting for the action? Where did it all happen? Let your reader know the location and setting.
When? When did it happen? Is it a contemporary, dystopian, historical story? What time of the year is it? What year is it?
Why? Why did it happen? Why did the character act that way? Why did the villain do what he did? Readers love to know the characters’ motives.
How? How did it happen? How did the problem get resolved? How did the main character succeed? Make sure that your resolution is feasible. Readers get frustrated with loose ends or unrealistic endings.
I hope you find these tips helpful If you have any tips of your own do share them below.