I saved this one for last (in the plot prompts series) because it has the potential to be the most fun of all!
If you’re a writer, the chances are you think a lot (too much?) about everything that happens to you. And you probably remember every little slight anyone has ever perpertrated upon you.
Now’s your chance to have your revenge.
Today you will write a revenge story. (Use examples from real life if you like!)
If you want to keep your main character sympathetic, make sure they’re seeking revenge for something outrageously unfair and that the bad guys are really bad. And make sure that your main character doesn’t just slide through the revenge process unchanged.
Of course, it doesn’t have to end well for your main character. Maybe they start out nice-but-wronged and end up avenged-but-twisted. Or maybe your protagonist is a real bad apple, to start with.
As usual, keep the scale of your story small: focus on one incident – probably the moment of confrontation. Start right in the action and show the backstory in dialogue, allusions, images. Bring the story to a climax and show us how it has affected your main character as s/he walks off into the sunset.
Write A Story of Revenge
Thanks to James Scott Bell for a week’s worth of inspiration. Check out the StoryADay.org exclusive interview with JSB, his Plot & Structure book, or any of his suspense novels, zombie legal thrillers (who could resist?!), historical romance or books for writers.
This week’s prompts are inspired by ‘plot patterns’ from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.
Today your hero is restless. S/he can’t simply live the way everyone else does. Your hero needs to go on a quest.
Whether this quest (and what they seek) is literal or figurative, make sure the goal is something absolutely critical to their survival, and the obstacles huge.
(In a short story you may only be able to give them one obstacle as the set-piece but you can use the action & dialogue to
- Imply a whole lot about who they are,
- Explain why they are here and
- Show the scale of the quest before and after this point,
If you pay attention to doing this, you’ll end up with a complete story, not just a trailer for a novel
Send Your Character On A Quest
This prompt is inspired by ‘plot patterns’ from James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure.
Your prompt today revolves around a protagonist who holds him/herself apart from the rest of their society. Perhaps they are an anti-hero, perhaps a loner, perhaps an introvert in a family of extraverts.
Make something happen to tempt/force this person out of their alone-ness. Will they step into their society during the action of the story? When all is resolved will they stay involved or retreat once again?
Write a story about a loner/anti-hero
This week’s prompts are all inspired by ‘plot patterns’ from James Scott Bell’s Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure.
Write a story in which your protagonist is being chased by someone or something. If you choose to show what/who the hero is running from, make sure that pursuer has a vested interest in catching the hero (make it their obsession). Will your hero get away? Stay on the run? Find a safe haven? Convince their pursuer it’s all been a terrible mistake?
Write A Story About A Chase
One of the nine plot patterns highlighted in James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure is:
The love story.
(A billion romance readers can’t be wrong!)
You don’t have to write a traditional romance to be writing a love story. There’s a love story embedded in almost every story you read or watch. From Homer’s Odyssey to Homer and Marge Simpson, love is in the air.
All that is required for a love story is for two protagonists who are in love, and an obstacle to that love. Resolving the obstacle, one way or another, is the plot of your story.
To avoid writing a schlocky, saccharine formulaic romance, “one or other of your lovers [should] grow as a result of the pattern,” says Bell.
Write A Love Story
Whether you like the Disnified Happily Ever After versions or the grim Grimm originals, fairy stories are a great source of inspiration for a writer.
You can rewrite the tales with a modern twist, or a funny one, or you can simply take the morality-play form and use it for your own story.
I come back to this prompt idea again and again because it is such fertile ground and because EVERYONE knows a fairy story or folk tale (if you need a reminder of some, go here).
Alternatively, you could choose to write an allegory (think: Narnia, or Animal Farm). If you do write an allegorical story, however, bear in mind this advice from James Scott Bell’s book Plot & Structure:
“Allegory is difficult to do well, since it may just come off as merely preaching in the guise of an imaginative tale…Make the characters real and not just stand-ins for your ideas.”
Rewrite a fairytale/folk story or Get Allegorical
After last week’s character focus, this week’s prompts are going to focus on different plot archetypes.
First up: the fish out of water story.
This ties in nicely with the focus on character, since the fish out of water story lays a great emphasis on the characters – either the alien character, or the ones who are trying to deal with having him in their lives. Think: Mork and Mindy, The Wizard of Oz, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy… It also allows you scope to have fun with descriptions, point of view, dialogue, belief systems, you name it.
Write A Fish Out Of Water Story