The Key to a Great Story – Developing the Basic Plots

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I’ve posted recently about the seven basic plot lines. They include, ‘Overcoming a Threat’, ‘Rags to Riches’, ‘The Quest’, ‘Voyage and Return’, ‘Comedy’, ‘Tragedy’ and ‘Rebirth’. In these posts I outlined the basic concepts behind each of the different types of stories. But in my opinion if you ever want to write a truly great story, you need to move beyond the basics.

When you write short stories, you might not be able to make the plot overly complex, but when you write longer stories, and in particular if you’re like me and you write novels in series, you need to familiarise yourself with more advanced plot concepts.

I’m not of course saying that short stories are overly simplistic, not at all, many of the advanced plotting techniques I’m going to be posting about in the coming weeks are applicable to short stories as well. All I’m warning you about is that when you do add more depth and complexity to a story you might run the risk of writing a much longer story than you had intended.

From personal experience in trying to write short stories, and I emphasise the word trying, I end up writing something far to complex to simply remain a short story. I normally end up with another novel. Now this might not seem like a bad thing, but personally I find it very frustrating at times, so I advise using one or two of the techniques to enhance your story, rather than all of them. So what are these advanced techniques I’m going to post about:

  • The Mash Up – Writing a story using more than one of the basic plots.
  • Sub-Plotting – Writing a story with a main plot and a subplot, drawing on the conventions of the Mash-up, but also on my ideas about different character types, in particular more minor characters.
  • Character vs. Plot Driven Development – This will involve exploring the different ways in which a plot can be driven forward, drawing upon my previous posts about different character types.

These different concepts are all quite complex ideas in comparison to the basics, and their development via this blog will lead quite nicely to the next series of posts I’m planning, that which revolves around world building. I hope you enjoy.

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