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On Not Losing the Plot

Written by Laura FraineLaura Fraine

Have you got into a bit of a knot with your plot? Reached a dead end and don’t know where to go next? Go through the 10 questions below and answer the questions about your story. If you can’t answer them – maybe that’s the bit you’re missing.

Whose story is it?

A character must own the story. It’s often the first person we see or hear about in the story.

What is normal for them?

What is their everyday reality? What does it lack? This will also probably point you to their flaw or the thing they are searching for.

What happens?

There will almost certainly be a catalyst – something that happens initially to change the character’s reality. It might be something that makes their need/flaw more obvious.

What do they now want?

It could be the same thing – they might just want it more (or now they might know they want it). Or it might be something different all together.

What’s at stake?

What could they lose? What could they gain? This could be external (like a home or family or a whole universe) or it could be internal (they could lose/gain confidence).

Why should we care?

Are we invested emotionally in the character? We need to be.

What obstacles are in their way?

Usually an obstacle or two pushes your story ahead. They could be external physical (they might need to go on a quest or run the risk of being beaten up by a really big bloke), they could be external emotional (maybe they are going to break someone’s heart?) or internal (lack of confidence, lack of knowledge etc.).

What do they learn?

Do they become a better person? Do they gain knowledge? Do they learn not to trust people so much?

Do they get what they want/need?

Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, maybe they get part of the way there. Whichever way, the reader/viewer needs to know.

What are they saying about the world?

There will be a “message” even if it’s not a big one.

You should be able to do this with almost all of the books you see or the films you watch.


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