Category Archives: Plot

Do You Have a Six Word Story?

One of Ernest Hemingway’s best known stories isn’t a novel.  It’s these six words:                  “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Isn’t that heartbreaking? In those six words, you have emotion, character and even plot, if you read between the lines. I don’t remember what we were talking about in one of my spring classes, but someone referenced this, I quoted it, and our instructor delayed his planned writing activity and said “Let’s do it!” We blanched.  He gave us ten minutes.  So, being dutiful students (and willing to try most any writing exercise), we bent heads and put pen to paper.  Here are a few of the resulting stories: Mine:  “Blizzard.  Heat, electricity vanish.  Autumn baby.” Cassandra Leonard:  “I ate.  I swam.  I barfed.” Kyle Keller:  “After prom, cab fare for one.” Prof. Keith Leonard (no relation to Cassandra):  “He fell.  I took a picture.” Note … Continue reading

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Turn a Childhood Memory into Fiction

Many of us started out writing stories based on childhood happenings:  being picked on by a bully, feeling left out, falling off a rope swing, getting a pony, getting bucked off a pony.  (Hey, there’s got to be someone else out there that got bucked off a bazillion times, too.) The problem comes when the story gets stuck in our past and doesn’t gain a life of its own. The process tends to work something like this: Think of a fun or traumatic incident. Write it in story form. Fictionalize it by changing names, places, how many siblings, etc. Try to make the opening more exciting. Realize it’s lacking something. Try to add conflict.  Maybe even add a friend or sibling who wasn’t actually there. Take a bigger chance and change the dialogue or action to what you wish you said or did, instead of what actually happened. Give it … Continue reading

Posted in Characterization, Children's/YA, Editing, Plot | Tagged , , , , , , |

Finding a Short Story Ending

I turned my short story in yesterday and I’ve discovered what happens when a Plotter tries to write as a Pantser:  the story comes out well, but when Pantser gets to the end of the story and she finally has everything figured out, said Pantser has to go back and completely re-write the beginning! Not fun, but okay.  Seriously. As mentioned last week, I knew my main character would find her daughter’s diary, be tempted, and finally read it.  I spent an evening writing teenage diary entries (complaints, gossip, and a whole lot about her boyfriend behind closed doors), and the next day it took me several rambling pages of the mother’s worries before she even read it.  I still didn’t know how it would turn out. When I wrote the second half, I discovered that the teenager the Mom was reacting to wasn’t the deceitful girl becoming sexually involved … Continue reading

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Begin at the Beginning – a Plotter Tries Being a Pantser

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The beginning or the end?  When you write a story, do you start by knowing the characters and the opening, and then write to see where it takes you? (Option 1, writing by the seat of your pants, or Pantser)  Or do you start with the characters, the situation and the ending, and write to get there? (Option 2, plotting the story in varying degrees, or Plotter)  For the first time, I’m experimenting with Option 1, being a Pantser. Well, not exactly the first time. My mind usually percolates a situation, character and end, and I build the plot and the character together until they work.  What-ifs can show up – I definitely don’t outline everything – but I’m still writing to meet the ending I’ve envisioned.  It just works best for me. For NaNoWriMo one year, I did try writing … Continue reading

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Weekend Writing Prompts– Story Starters About Revenge

Do you ever dream of what you would do to get back at someone?  Or are you too nice?  Even if you’re an understanding person, your character doesn’t have to be.  What kind of revenge would he or she take to make someone pay for what they did? Wait!  Make it more interesting – choose a situation below, and then spend five minutes brainstorming possible scenarios.  Do NOT write about the first one or two you list – those are the easy ones.  For a more interesting story, go with a scene you had to stretch for, one toward the end of your list. What kind of revenge might your character take if:  A party guest stole money from them? Their best friend added to an untrue rumor about them? Their partner/lover cheated on them? Their co-worker stole their great idea? A friend “borrowed” something and then damaged it? After … Continue reading

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