Line of Fire, An Autumn Rain Novel
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How to plot a story
These comments were taken (with permission) from an e-mail group of writers.
From Melva Gifford:
There are several ways I plot a story. I'll show some examples to see if
this may be of help. I don't volunteer to be a guru but I do love to scheme.
Here is a brief process of coming up with the plot line of bungee. I was
at a Utah convention that had CJ Cherry. (I credit this plot to her) She
said come up with one word for the title. I came up with the word Bungee.
Then I was on my own. Since I like SF/F I realized this would not be a story
about normal jumping but that it would be somewhere dangerous.
Q: Why is someone bungeeing on a remote planet?
A: The jumper needs to get something from a dangerous place. In this example
an acidic pit. They are bungee mining. They suit up, make the jump into the
pit. Grab the product and get out before they have a chance to get killed.
Q: What is the object?
A: Digett which helps prevent the deterioration of the body in long space
flight which makes it invaluable in colonization of space.
Q: What goes wrong on this job?
A: Someone sets off explosions on the launch site to kill the jumpers. There
are several "corporations" competing for the same material. Who gets the
most becomes the most wealthy. Stab your neighbor and you end up with it
So we have . . .
Plot A: A man is left down in the acidic pit after the explosion. He must
find a way out before his suit is eaten up by the acid. B plot needs to occur
at the same time as the A plot so that if the reader is not engaged in plot
A they will continue to read the story for the B plot. I need to work more
on this B plot or even C plot stuff if it's a book.
Plot B: The survivors who are up on the launch pad as they try to help rescue
the guy in the pit - different trial fail cycles as they try to fix
the problems that face them and as they piece together what is happening.
Create a character: Then make them face their greatest fear. That will be
Normal day to day events can be warped. Example: What are all the inconvenient
things about emptying the kitchen trash? List them. Now write a story about
a wizard who has to empty the trash of potions.
Find a normal event. This idea came from a friend. He used the idea of having
a picture of different places on different stamps. As you lick the
stampyou get transported to the place on the picture. A normal event
with a twist.
Sometimes people will actually look at a newspaper. They will read an article
about a thievery or some other 'bad thing' then they will write a story from
Those are just some ideas.
One additional thought something needs to be at risk. Personal risk of getting
lost. When we care about the character we are going to get emotionally involved
in our fear that this character will lose their greatest treasure. Indiana
Jones goes search after the Holy Grail but it becomes much more personal
when his dad dying and he must solve the dilemma. It is now personal.