Plot develops out of conflict, either external, such as a person or an event that precipitates a series of actions the main character undertakes, or internal, driven by the protagonist’s wants and/or needs. How that character, and others, makes choices and otherwise responds to stimuli determines the course of events.
The traditional structure of a plot is linear, in which the protagonist’s actions are charted in a more or less straight line, although many stories shift from that person’s point of view to that of one or more other characters as the tale progresses. Others involve one or more flashbacks, introducing new elements to the overarching plot.
In one sense, there are innumerable stories; looking at storytelling another way, various analysts have discovered variable finite numbers of basic plots (such as the quest, which is ubiquitous in all genres), though these types have a seemingly infinite number of variations, as a visit to any large bookstore or library will attest. But stories almost invariably follow a simple pattern, in which rising action propels the protagonist through a series of complications that result in a climax, followed by the falling action of the resolution.
At this point, the character, or at least the character’s circumstances, have changed, though most readers (and writers) find it most satisfying if the character has experienced significant growth or change and has accomplished a palpable goal, such as a physical journey that has allowed the character to achieve some reward, or an intangible goal that still satisfies the reader’s desire for the protagonist to undergo a metamorphosis of some kind.
Writer Annie Lamott created a helpful mnemonic catechism, ABCDE, to help writers remember the basics. Here are the elements:
Seriously, click the link and go read the article. Seriously.
Also, check out our post on the Hero’s Journey and monomyth!
Do it for a reason! Progress your plot, make people cry, show loss of innocence ect.
I don’t really like the ‘Not much is happening here, DIE’ thing.
I answered an ask yesterday about killing characters [HERE]
The general consensus is: make the death matter.
No redshirts please!
When people are looking for plot ideas or new events to sprinkle into their roleplays, the first place I am going to point them is to this article.
Published first in a french book of the same title in the 19th century, this list has been of a massive aid to writers ever since. Written by french writer Georges Polti, it was meant to categorize every possible situation which might occur in anything from a poem to a play. The list came about after extensive studies of Greek texts, french literature, as well as non-french literature. Polti claimed to continue the work of Carlo Gozzi, who had also, himself, found these thirty-six situations.
Required Elements : a Persecutor; a Suppliant; a Power in authority whose decision is doubtful
The Persecutor accuses the Suppliant of wrongdoing, and the Power makes a judgement against the Suppliant.
Required Elements : an Unfortunate; a Threatener; a Rescuer
The Unfortunate has caused a conflict, and the Threatener is to carry out justice, but the Rescuer saves the Unfortunate.
Required Elements : a Criminal; an Avenger
The Criminal commits a crime that will not see justice, so the Avenger seeks justice by punishing the Criminal.
4. Vengeance Taken for Kin upon Kin
Required Elements : Guilty Kinsman; an Avenging Kinsman; remembrance of the Victim, a relative of both
Two entities, the Guilty and the Avenging Kinsmen, are put into conflict over wrongdoing to the Victim, who is allied to both.
Required Elements : Punishment; a Fugitive
The Fugitive flees Punishment for a misunderstood conflict.
Required Elements : a Vanquished Power; a Victorious Enemy or a Messenger
The Power falls from their place after being defeated by the Victorious Enemy or being informed of such a defeat by the Messenger
7. Falling Prey to Cruelty/Misfortune
Required Elements : an Unfortunate; a Master or a Misfortune
The Unfortunate suffers from Misfortune and/or at the hands of the Master
Required Elements : a Tyrant; a Conspirator
The Tyrant, a cruel power, is plotted against by the Conspirator.
9. Daring Enterprise
Required Elements : a Bold Leader; an Object; an Adversary
The Bold Leader takes the Object from the Adversary by overpowering the Adversary
Required Elements : an Abductor; the Abducted; a Guardian
The Abductor takes the Abducted from the Guardian.
11. The Enigma
Required Elements : a Problem; an Interrogator; a Seeker
The Interrogator poses a Problem to the Seeker and gives a Seeker better ability to reach the Seeker’s goals.
Required Elements : [a Solicitor & an Adversary who is refusing] or [an Arbitrator & Opposing Parties] + an Object
[The Solicitor is at odds with the Adversary who refuses to give the Solicitor the Object in the possession of the Adversary] or [The Arbitrator decides who gets the Object desired by Opposing Parties]
13. Enmity of Kin
Required Elements : a Malevolent Kinsman; a Hatred or a reciprocally-hating Kinsman
The Malevolent Kinsman and the Hated or a second Malevolent Kinsman conspire together
14. Rivalry of Kin
Required Elements : the Preferred Kinsman; the Rejected Kinsman; the Object of Rivalry
The Object of Rivalry chooses the Preferred Kinsman over the Rejected Kinsman
15. Murderous Adultery
Required Elements : two Adulterers; a Betrayed Spouse
Two Adulterers conspire to killed the Betrayed Spouse
Required Elements : a Madman; a Victim
The Madman goes insane and wrongs the Victim
17. Fatal Imprudence
Required Elements : the Imprudent; a Victim or an Object Lost
The Imprudent, by neglect or ignorance, loses the Object Lost or wrongs the Victim
18. Involuntary Crimes of Love
Required Elements : a Lover; a Beloved; a Revealer
The Revealer betrays the trust of either the Lover or the Beloved
19. Slaying of Kin Unrecognized
Required Elements : the Slayer; and Unrecognized Victim
The Slayer kills the Unrecognized Victim
20. Self-sacrifice for an Ideal
Required Elements : a Hero; an Ideal; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed
The Hero sacrifices the Person or Thing for their Ideal, which is then taken by the Creditor
21. Self-sacrifice for Kin
Required Elements : a Hero; a Kinsman; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed
The Hero sacrifices a Person or Thing for their Kinsman, which is then taken by the Creditor
22. All Sacrificed for Passion
Required Elements : a Lover; an Object of fatal Passion; the Person/Thing sacrificed
A Lover sacrifices a Person or Thing for the Object of their Passion, which is then lost forever.
23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones
Required Elements : a Hero; a Beloved Victim; the Necessity for their Sacrifice
The Hero wrongs the Beloved Victim because of the Necessity for their Sacrifice
24. Rivalry of Superior vs. Inferior
Required Elements : a Superior Rival; an Inferior Rival; the Object of Rivalry
A Superior Rival bests an Inferior Rival and wins the Object of Rivalry
Required Elements : two Adulterers; a Deceived Spouse
Two Adulterers conspire against the Deceived Spouse.
26. Crimes of Love
Required Elements : a Lover; the Beloved
A Lover and the Beloved enter a conflict.
27. Discovery of the Dishonour of a loved one
Required Elements : a Discoverer; the Guilty One
The Discoverer discovers the wrongdoing committed by the Guilty One.
28. Obstacles to Love
Required Elements : two Lovers; an Obstacle
Two Lovers face an Obstacle together.
29. An Enemy Loved
Required Elements : a Lover; the Beloved Enemy; the Hater
The allied Lover and Hater have diametrically opposed attitudes towards the Beloved Enemy.
Required Elements : an Ambitious Person; a Thing Coveted; an Adversary
The Ambitious Person seeks the Thing Coveted and is opposed by the Adversary.
31. Conflict with a God
Required Elements : a Mortal; an Immortal
The Mortal and the Immortal enter a conflict.
32. Mistaken Jealousy
Required Elements : a Jealous One; an Object of whose Possession He is Jealous; a Supposed Accomplice; a Cause or an Author of the Mistake
The Jealous One falls victim to the Cause or the Author of the Mistake and becomes jealous of the Object and becomes conflicted with the Supposed Accomplice.
33. Erroneous Judgement
Required Elements : a Mistaken One; a Victim of the Mistake; a Cause or Author of the Mistake; the Guilty One
The Mistaken One falls victim to the Cause or the Author of the Mistake and passes judgement against the Victim of the Mistake, when it should be passed against the Guilty One instead.
Required Elements : a Culprit; a Victim or the Sin; an Interrogator
The Culprit wrongs the Victim or commits the Sin, and is at odds with the Interrogator who seeks to understand the situation.
35. Recovery of a Lost One
Required Elements : a Seeker; the One Found
The Seeker finds the One Found.
36. Loss of Loved On
Required Elements : a Kinsman Slain; a Kinsman Spectator; an Executioner
The killing of the Kinsman Slain by the Executioner is witnessed by the Kinsman Spectator.
This is awesome!
Here’s another great resource for Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations, including the elements, the variants, and a dicussion of each situation:
I really love hearing about ghost stories, folklore and the like, and i’m sure there people out there who can relate, so I decided to throw together a masterpost. this collection is the result of a half hour worth of googling around. I apologize if there are any broken links - if you catch one, please fix it. additionally, if you know any good links that aren’t listed here, feel free to add them!
browse carefully - some of these are pretty creepy. lots of violence and swearing scattered around, etc.
- List of ghosts
- List of common misconceptions
- List of backmasked messages
- Category:Folklore by region
- Category:Folklore by nationality
- Category:Fairy tales by country
- Category:Urban Legends
- Category:Reportedly haunted locations
- Category:Films based on urban legends
Snopes: (warning: some popups! snopes is sometimes an unreliable source, so i suggest taking its articles with a grain of salt, but theyre still a pretty good read.)
- 136 creepy wikipedia articles (not all urban legends, but still a really excellent masterpost!)
- American Folklore (haven’t delved too deep into this website but it has a lot of content - check the links across the top in the red bar)
- Creepypasta Index - Highest Rated (again, haven’t read all of these but there are some classics on here I recognize)
- All-Lies (has some irritating ads, but there’s a lot of stuff on here. take note of the sweet ’90s flames on the bottom of the page)
- DisneyLies - (sister site to the previous link. i’m not sure why there are so many creepy myths surrounding disney, but these are pretty good. also has some pretty rad flames)
Anonymous asked you: The difference of fluff and romance
I think I can help you out there!
Fluff (n): A story (usually fan fiction) or part of a story which has no plot or a very simple plot and no or very little character development; humorous and/or conventionally romantic writing; feel-good romance.
As I understand it, Fluff is a sub-genre of Romance.
Romance (n): A story arc which centers around the romantic relationship of the main characters; a story in which love is a main theme.
Other sub-genres of Romance include:
And any of those sub-genres can have Fluff-y elements in them just like Suspense, Horror, Fantasy, and just about any other types of stories can have Fluff-y Romance in them, but writing something sweet can be difficult, especially if you don’t normally write feel-good romance. See this post for idea on how to look at Fluff in a new way.
Basically, if the Romance genre is dessert, then Fluff is whipped cream. Fluff is sweet and light and giggle-inducing, and Romance is a major narrative genre with plenty of conventions, tropes, sub-genres, etc. under its umbrella. The two are not synonyms, though they are certainly connected.
Feel-good romantic Fluff isn’t a bad thing to write, but taking a break from carrying a narrative forward to smother the reader in cuteness without substance might not be the most effective choice you could make for your story. The easiest way to avoid doing something like this is to plan so that everything you write contributes to your story goals. For tips on that, you might want to grab a Towel. Remember, while you’re writing your first draft, you’re allowed to write Fluff if you want to. You can always edit it out during the revision process (or not)!
For more on Romance:
And here are a few books on writing Romance:
Thank you for your question!
Here are some exercises I’ve found based on the book “20 Master Plots And How To Build Them.” It’s a really good book, if you’re thinking of buying a copy for yourself!
Alright, I was searching through the web for writing tips for a plot, because I’m currently kinda stuck with writing my own for my Roleplay. Anyway, I stumbled across a lot of tips and tricks and decided to make a list of links in case I need them in the future again.
Underneath the cut you will find:
- Novel/Fiction related writing tips for plots
- Roleplay related writing tips for plots (some posts are about Roleplay Games too, but have helpful tips/ideas)
- How To’s by RPH/A/C’s
- And other Roleplay related Links
Beware, there are a lot of links under the read more.