The cruelty or misfortune plot is a seemingly simple plot that can be used to express a great deal of thematic messages. Unlike some of the other simple plots, the cruelty or misfortune plot works quite well with character-driven stories. You can check out some of the other plots here.
- An unfortunate suffers from cruelty or misfortune at the hands of a master.
This particular scenario is actually very flexible in terms of what you need. You don’t necessarily need a central ‘master’ figure to dole out misfortune. Your only character might very well be this unfortunate sufferer. The exact cruelty or misfortune they suffer is open to your interpretation as well. Overcoming those misfortunes is a good fodder for rags-to-riches stories as well as building strong characters.
As a main plot, this is again extremely useful for character driven stories and can help showcase how a character changes. This also gives you room to play with thematic messages, allowing you to repeatedly put the character in situations that test their resolve to that particular theme or trait.
As a minor plot, it helps build out your characters, partially by helping to explain some of their backstory and also by testing them in ways your main plot might be otherwise unable to.