Thursday, 15 September 2011

Plots and goals

I was seriously depressed about my lack of writing this week and couldn't figure out how to turn some of my ideas into fully developed stories. All I seemed to have were scenarios and single mental images - none of which makes a story. I needed characters and plot, but I couldn't come up with anything.

Until I read a single tip that made it all come together for me:

A plot is simply your character's goal.

It sounds ridiculously obvious, but I'm the type of person who sometimes needs things to be broken down into their simplest form. I may have an awesomely built post-apocalyptic universe, but without a character and their goal, it's never going to be a story (flash, short or novel).

So, in my trusty notebook that I scribble my ideas into, I have a single line written after each idea. The line always takes the same format: Character wants something.

It is, I suppose, the top-most level of plot. The post-apocalyptic one now states: Main character wants to rescue his girlfriend from her place of work before the zombies overrun the building. It doesn't have to be a physical object - I have one that says "The Princess wants to stay alive" - but my rule is that it has to have the word want in there.

Since starting this idea earlier in the week, I now have four new possible stories, where I once had some vague ideas. And two of those were ideas that had been sitting around in my head for months.

I'm actually excited about writing again.

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