Story News Advice Blog 1 Dec 20 by Lorenzo Samuel, author of speculative fiction writings.
In the last "Story News" advice blog, I discussed why quantity is so important and takes precedence over the quality of writing. For this issue of the blog, I will go over how to make a plot enthralling.
First some definitions from the dictionary: 1) Plot – According to Websters, a plot is a plan of action for a story. 2) In the same dictionary, enthralling is to hold as if in a spell; captivating, fascinating. Thus, an enthralling plot would be a plan of action in a story that holds the reader or captivates him or her. In reader parlance, that means one wants to see what happens next, so doesn’t want to put the story down. An avid reader would hang in there until the wee hours of the morning. Time would pass unnoticed until yawns drove one to bed.
That’s what any writer should strive for. I have three short stories that I want to write. I have three in mind. First is the 2nd act of a novella (short story in itself) in which the protagonist becomes nothing. Second involves a theme of a plastic bottle coming to life and its subsequent adventures. Third concerns a person banished from earth, abandoned on a planet where beings at birth incubate, are educated through a technique of sleep learning and what happens to those who escape this procedure. Which one would fall into this most enthralling plot mode? I’d like to hear your view. Just send me a message.
Now, what makes a plot enthralling? It must be based on a theme that expresses an original idea that ENTHRALLS YOU. Writing a fascinating plot for a story that does not enthrall you is darn near impossible.
You must want passionately the plot to fascinate your readers to the point of can’t put it down.
The plot must be a clear communication. You may understand it, but would your readers? Forget the big words and arcane language. Eliminate anything confusing. You can divert your readers but do confuse them.
Make your opposition or antagonist formidable. Make it hard on your protagonist even to the point of nearly losing.
Make sure the protagonist has something she or he wants strongly. Make it tough to achieve this.
Love both your protagonist and your antagonist. Make you antagonist a worthy opponent.
Ensure your story starts off with an inciting incident, which the protagonist must rectify. Make her or him struggle to achieve it. Make the struggles progressively more difficult until at the crisis to your story your protagonist must carry out the riskiest decision of which way to go.
The climax to the story must be a natural outcome and resolve the inciting incident.
There is much more to plotting a story. What I’ve written in this blog is a good start. See some good books on the subject. My favorite is “Story” by Robert McKee.
In the next issue of Story News, I will take up how I choose an idea for a story.