What if…?

What exactly makes a good plot?

Test this theory. Every every story has one of seven basic plots.

Next time you read a short story or a novel, ask yourself whether the fits into one of these categories:435V

 A quest

Overcoming the monster

Rags to riches

Voyage and return




And now ask:

Was that a good plot? If yes, what made it a good plot?

Did it have a strong beginning that drew you in?

Did the hero or heroine (the protagonist) have some sort of problem to face, or some kind of conflict to overcome?

Did the plot have a satisfying end?

Creating a good plot

One way to start is to ask “What if……?”2b Mt Edgcumbe

In one of my stories I asked, “What if a couple are all set to move from a grim flat to a house of their own, and the man hasn’t put down the deposit as agreed? He’s gambled it away.

In another I asked, “What if a young widow is so bitter about her soldier husband’s death, she becomes unable to show kindness to anyone, including her young daughter?”

Both these plots were successful in competitions.  The first became Leaving it all behind was shortlisted in the Chorley and District Writers’ Circle competition, and published in an anthology in 2013.

The other one, The Cake Stall, came 2nd in the 2009 HE Bates short story competition, and is published in an anthology called Beauty in the Bog.

Try the following for yourself

1 What if a stranger bumps into you and slips somethinginto your pocket? Do you open the package? What do you find?

2 What if someone plans a revenge that misfires?Will this be a tragedy, a comedy,or a story of the character’s rebirth?

3 What if your computer develops a mind of its own? What if it orders the most unusual things from the internet?

What if it connects you to someone you can’t stand?

 Let me know how you get on.02.28

Frog: (about to set out on a quest)

What if I never find the frog of my dreams?


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