Plot is the series of events that happen in your story. These events should have a driving purpose. Your character wants something, and this is the story of how your character tries to get it.
These plot prompts the kind of “big ideas” that recur in story after story… to work with this prompt you want to add the details of how your story will explore this big idea.
two lovers thwarted by familial hatred
(Refresh the page for another plot…)
As an example, let’s say your prompt was “a kidnapping”… start out by thinking about the topic, answer some of these questions to develop a story.
First of all, think about stories you already know. Have you ever read a book that involved a kidnapping? Watched a movie? Read a story in the newspaper? Which of these stories stand out as the most interesting to you, and why? Make a list of the things that you have found interesting about a kidnapping in the past. Highlight the ones you think might have a place in your story.
Next, think about your characters. You need at least three, one to do the kidnapping, one to get kidnapped, and one to notice that a kidnapping took place. Try to think about your story from each of these viewpoints. Which viewpoint can tell the most interesting version of the story?
If you haven’t gotten any ideas at this point, you might want to try another prompt. Otherwise, let’s flesh out the story by answering some of these questions:
- Who in your life you miss the most if they were kidnapped? Who would you kidnap if you did that kind of thing?
- Why would the kidnapper do it? Money? Love? What is their motivation?
- What does the person getting kidnapped to to try to escape? Or do they want to be kidnapped? Do they help the kidnapper?
- What do the people who are left behind do to try to get the person back? Do they miss them? Do they secretly feel guilty for enjoying them being gone? Or because they are getting attention for their problem?
- How did the kidnapping happen? Was it on the street in broad daylight? From their bed at home while they were sleeping?
Finally, map out a series of cause and effect actions.
Your character goes to the police to report a missing person… but something goes wrong (maybe they won’t let them file because the person is an adult, or has not been missing long enough)? What do they do then? Do they get mad and make a scene? Do they get themselves arrested for it? Do they slink home to wait? Hire a private investigator to find evidence of foul play?
How will your story end? Will the kidnapper get caught or get away? Does the victim come home safely or stay missing? Do those left behind learn to live without their loved one? Is there life changed even after their loved one returns?
Take at least 30 minutes to write out some ideas for an outline.