What makes for a great story plot? Well, if you read books or watch movies, you probably recognize the core components already. It’s the storyline that keeps people talking long after it’s over, featuring a cast of memorable characters, exciting and unexpected twists with a satisfying ending. How to write a book with great plot ideas is a matter of understanding a few principles.
What Is Plot?
The plot is the literary device that describes the series of main events making up the story in a book or movie. It really is that simple. The overall structure of that story depends on the organization of those events.
The plot is the foundational element of a story. It is the centerpiece around which character and setting are built.
There are five main elements that go into a plot.
1.) Exposition & introduction:
This is the beginning of a story. The outset of the movie or book’s journey when characters and setting are established. In the Hero’s Journey terms, this is what is often referred to as “the ordinary world”.
2.) Rising action:
We recognize this area as when things start to happen. There is a sudden disruption in how that ordinary world functions for the hero, whether that comes from outside of the character/setting (an alien invasion) or turmoil from inside those elements coming out (simmering family tensions).
Simple translation? Things get complicated.
This is when the rising action reaches its fevered peak. The main character is, in one shape or another, forced to confront the changes in his ordinary world. He or she begins to fight back against or resist the challenges that have been brought to them.
4.) Falling Action:
Once the climax has been reached and the battle has been fought, the story is not over. Not quite yet. There is a stretch of action where the repercussions are sorted out. Consequences are doled out and the lessons are learned.
Last we arrive at the story’s necessary resolution. Viewers and readers need this. This is the end of the story, whether triumphant or tragic when the character returns to a new normal in their old world.
How To Develop A Plot
The key to developing a strong book or movie plot is recognizing each of these five components and assigning an event (or in most cases a series of events) to each of them. It is worth mentioning here, there is no circumventing any of these elements. If you want to be clever and try to outsmart your audience’s need for resolution, they’re going to let you know. They will.
One of the paths I like to take is working from the outside in. What does that mean?
Start with the exposition and introduction section of the plot. Where does the story begin? Once you have that world and the main character nailed down, next try spinning back around to the resolution. Developing a plot around an alien invasion story may begin with a sleepy town and end with a new Eden where humans and aliens get live in perfect harmony.
There you have an interesting “story arc”. From there, knowing that resolution, you can fill in the gaps in how they got there. The aliens have to arrive, first encounters take place, conflict arises when their intentions are misunderstood, but eventually, everyone resolves to a peaceful way of co-existing.
How To Write A Book Plot Ideas
That example is over-simplified, but you get the idea. If you know the ending lands you can string together events in the middle that support it. The events in this story would be tremendously different than if the resolution saw the sleeping town wiped out, right?
It is important to understand you’re not beholden to developing in a linear fashion. You can start wherever.
The key is that there needs to be a logical arc. That every event between introduction and resolution helps a logical connection.
If you would like to read more on the topic of how to write a book, check out these additional articles.
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