Posted in Stories, writing

Plot: Disaster

Although natural disaster might spring to mind as the likely candidate for this plot scenario, disaster plots are actually concerned with the fall from power. This makes it an excellent scenario for plot-driven stories. You can check out some of the other scenarios here.

  • A vanquished power is informed of defeat by victorious enemy or messenger.

The simplicity of the disaster plot makes it easy to slide characters in as necessary. Your vanquished power can be either antagonist or protagonist. You’ve also got the option of including both the victorious enemy and the messenger, or only one of the two. The choice is strictly yours, and again, allows you the room to have the protagonist or the antagonist in either position.

As a main plot, this works well for plot-driven stories, with little need or room for character development. This may mean you need to take care and build out your back stories for your characters.

For a minor plot, disaster can help tie up character arcs, especially those concerned with a fall from grace or similar changes.

Although this is drives plot forward, disaster as a scenario can help with character building and arcs.

Posted in writing

Refueling

The hardest part of any creative endeavor  is the amount of energy it takes, especially when it comes to something as complex as a story. This is especially true for longer or multiple works. Keeping the threads of of the plot, character and even setting from getting tangled require a lot of attention and focus and that’s not always easy to do on something intangible. Eventually it can lead to a burnt-out feeling, a lack of motivation or just plain loss of energy.

The question comes down to how do we refuel when our creative tanks are empty?

Much like when seeking inspiration, some of the best places to find creative energy can be found well away from the stories we’re trying to tell. In other words take a break. Forcing yourself to work on the story when you’re not feeling the passion won’t help, and can actually hurt a lot more than you might realize.

Try taking a couple of days away from the story and from writing. Pick up your favorite book, or whatever story inspired you to start writing in the first place to help remind you why you wanted to write. Go ahead and binge that show you’ve really enjoyed. Take a sometime and treat yourself to some games or a b-movie marathon.

Another important thing to remember about refueling is that this is an important and essential time to make sure you and your space are taken care of. Don’t forget to make sure you’re eating properly–especially if you’ve just gotten a huge amount of writing done or come out of an event like NaNoWriMo or a writing retreat. This is a prime opportunity to treat yourself to something healthy to help reward yourself for putting in the effort to create something.

Coming off the self-care idea is also a reminder to go ahead and take the time to clean your space. Go ahead and pull your desk away from the wall and vacuum behind it (or sweep and mop if you’re on hard flooring) as well as wipe down and polish any hard surfaces you work on. If there’s any projects such as repainting or reorganizing the room, now’s a good time to get those done! While it might seem unpleasant, refreshing your work area can help reinvigorate you and replenish your energy.

After you’ve taken a couple of days away from the story to relax, don’t jump right back into writing. Instead, try going over your notes first, to find things you liked and loved about the story, and to help kick start ideas that have been percolating in your subconscious. Don’t forget to look over anything that inspired the story in the first place! Part of refueling means re-inspiring.

Posted in writing

Writing Commitments

Often, the advice ‘write everyday’ is touted about by just about every source of writing advice. It sounds like a sound idea, after all, a few minutes of doing something every single day adds up to a lot of work done at the end of a week, or a month or even a year.

The problem is, writing everyday is not something that works a hundred percent of the time. Or even seventy-five percent of the time. Maybe not even fifty percent. If you do a quick search on it, you’ll probably find numerous posts from other writers about how much writing everyday doesn’t work. About how following that can actually make you sick of writing.

Writing every day does not make you a writer. Committing to your writing however, does.

Commitment to writing looks different for every writer, much like the process of writing itself looks different for every writer. For some of us, that might mean keeping a notepad close by for when an idea strikes us while we’re trying to change the baby and answer an urgent phone call at the same time. For others, it means setting aside an hour or so and doing research on this or that topic. And yes, for a few of us, it does mean writing every single day.

Commitment also means not letting excuses stop us. It’s much easier to say ‘I want to write a book’ than to actual write the book. Things such as careers, families, illness and so many other reasons get in the way without counting the daily distractions of the internet, the nearby coffee shop or catching the latest episode of our favorite show.

So how do you commit to writing if you’re not writing everyday? The answer is simple:

Set a specific goal.

Maybe that’s writing x amount of words in a week, or finally sitting down this month and figuring out how to use that pesky semicolon. And the best part is, you don’t have to make that goal, as long as you try for it. If you don’t make it, try again next week or next month or tomorrow. And when you meet that goal, set another. And then another. And another. And one more after that.

By making writing a goal you get the well-earned sense of accomplishment that makes it easier to keep coming back to writing, even when things get in the way and you just don’t have the ability or the option to write every day.

Keep your commitment goals specific. Vague goals like ‘write a book’ don’t work because it sets your sights too far ahead. There’s no measurable amount of progress to see how close you can get. Setting a word, page, or time based goal lets you see exactly how close you got to that goal and gives you a personal best to beat the next time you try.

While writing everyday may not work for everyone, committing to your writing will. You just have to find what sort of commitment works best for you and your process.

Posted in writing

Plot: Cruelty or Misfortune

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.

Posted in Stories, writing

Plot: Pursuit

Pursuit is a simple plot structure as far as how it breaks down and what it’s about. This makes it easier to mix and match with other plots. You can check out some of the other dramatic scenarios here.

  • A fugitive flees punishment for a conflict or misunderstanding.

With pursuit as a plot, there’s not a lot of space for characters. True, there is someone to mete out punishment, and there is a the fugitive, but the spaces and roles are fairly clear and well defined. The fugitive must be pursued by someone or something, but that does not automatically mean you need to have that someone or something as anything more than a threat.

Thankfully, pursuit meshes well with other plots such as deliverance, or revenge. As a main plot, you might focus more on what your characters do to avoid the punishment. Keep in mind too that that punishment might not be a true punishment at all–the horror genre is a broad and excellent example of twisting the pursuit plot into one of survival.

As both a main and minor plot, pursuit is heavily driven by character actions, rather than their motivations.