The ability to write a good plot is a necessary stepping stone to great writing. The Plot is the main event of your story, the foundation upon which you build the rest of your storyline. The subplots are all the little events that lead you there.
There are several types of plots that one can write.
The Rebirth: This type of plot is centered around a character who attempts to find themselves once more after having lost sight of who they were.
The Comedy: This type of plot is based around a lot of confusion where characters misunderstand each other. This confusion is often perceived as humorous to the readers because, oftentimes, the problem itself is silly.
The Tragedy: This plot can be characterized as the hero that has fallen from grace, a story that ends in deep tragedy (Hamlet is a good example of this type of plot).
Rags to Riches: This plot is the complete opposite of the tragedy. It’s when a hero starts off unlucky but through his journey, he rises above his obstacles.
Voyage & Return: This type of plot is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when the protagonist sets off on a voyage and returns back to their starting point. During their journey, characters tend to gain insight, knowledge, or wisdom that serves them well.
Overcoming the monster: This is the classic hero versus villain story. The hero sets out to overcome and beat the villain of the story.
The quest: This plot is centered around the hero going on a quest to accomplish something.
Now that you know the main types of plots, let’s expand on how to actually write one.
Determine what your “climax moment” will be
In order to write the plot of a story, you must first determine the main battles your character will be facing during their story. What is the purpose of your story? What is the main danger or events your characters will be facing? This “ultimate” moment during your story is often called the climax. The climax can be either an internal or external conflict that the characters are facing.
Some examples of internal conflicts:
- Overcoming anxieties, addiction or depression
- Discovering shocking events of their past and learning to deal with them during the story
- Discovering their true identity
Some examples of external conflicts:
- Confronting an enemy (man vs man conflict)
- Going on a dangerous journey in the wild (man vs nature conflict)
When coming up with the climax moment of your story, make sure that your character has both something to lose and something to gain from embarking on their adventure. This raises the stakes and makes for a more suspenseful story. Another tip would be to make the climax moment of your story relates in some way to your character’s backstory. To find out how to write a good backstory, click the link here. Some important questions to ask yourself would be why is this character going through this? How will this character change and develop as a result of this event?
Determine your subplots
After you’ve determined your climax moment, then you can determine the moments leading up to it (the subplots). It’s within the subplots that you’ll be able to create all the tension and build up the suspense leading up to that ultimate moment. A nice way of creating tension is by reminding your audience that your character has the capacity to fail and the consequences that will ensue as a result of that failure. Another way of creating tension is having your character exhibit one fatal flaw that may result in their downfall if they are not able to overcome it.
Create a Timeline
A helpful tip to create a good plot would be creating a timeline of the events you want to happen using the scheme of a plot diagram. You can write down all the events you want to happen during the exposition, all the subplots of the rising action, and so on and so forth. You can write all your events in chronological order (also paying attention to where in your story you might want to introduce flashbacks) and write down how much time has passed between all the events of your story.
For example, you would write that between the beginning of the first subplot of the rising action and the climax moment of your story, two weeks have passed. This technique will help you visualize the pace at which your story should be written.
Tips to making your plot more interesting
- Add an unexpected character
- Add a Plot twist. A good way of adding in a plot twist is using a trope and having it change unexpectandly at the very last minute
- Raising the stakes (main character now has more to lose)
- Adding history (having your character realize that the current plot is related to their past in some way)
- Making the climax about your character’s fatal flaw