Has your story been feeling like it is going nowhere? Have you been sitting down and wondering how you could continue writing your plot?
Having a strong plot is a major aspect that your story needs in order to be successful. However, writers often make some mistakes in their plot that are difficult to realize while writing it. You may not notice till you reach the end of the story – and then try to correct the problems to no avail.
What are some of these common pitfalls and how can you avoid them?
Most stories follow a common pattern – the inciting incident happens, there is a buildup of events leading to the climax, and then everything settles down. It can be difficult to make your story truly unique, and with so many stories out there already, chances are someone has already grabbed the low-hanging fruits and written about a similar plot to yours. However, what you can do to make your story different is to add your personal take on it. If you try to follow someone else’s plot for a good story, you may just end up writing something that is quite similar and definitely not doing your imagination justice. Readers like to be surprised, and if you add unexpected elements or plot twists to an otherwise common story, that’s potential for a good story.
So how do you go about picking out the good parts from the boring ones?
There are definitely a few ways to do this, but if you are unsure where to begin, sit down with your story and read it through. Mark out the plot points you think are too common or have already been done by someone else. If you can get a second opinion on what the “unoriginal” parts of your story are, that’s a plus.
Remove these common plot points and think about how else you could fit in the missing links. This is possibly the fun part – letting your imagination run wild and thinking, what if this happened instead? Most importantly, don’t be afraid to explore new possibilities to make your plot truly unique.
When this happens and it feels like your plot is stagnating, it’s usually time to focus on your main character. Your main character should have a quest – either to achieve something, to avoid something, or possibly both.
Your main character’s quest should be something difficult to achieve, something so important to them that achieving it would be a great cause for celebration. Try to picture your main character’s moment of triumph in as real a way as you can. You could perhaps draw it out or describe it.
The key to making your plot move forward is to have a clear idea of what your main character actually wants. The plot then serves as the story of how your main character reaches that goal. Once you have the end in mind, it is probably much easier to get the rest of your plot going.
Some action is good, but when your characters are constantly fighting or running, you leave little time for quieter scenes where they can flesh out their personalities. This is why even action movies quiet down sometimes and include romantic or sad scenes, to make their characters as real as possible. While these quiet scenes may seem to detract from the action in the story, they actually serve to make the audience like the characters. If you didn’t feel like you understood the characters in an action movie, you would be much less likely to sit on the edge of your seat rooting for them during the action.
It is the same way with any story. Including action scenes one after another tends to tire out your audience, and takes away from giving your audience time to get to know your characters. Make use of quiet breaks in between the action to develop your characters and get the audience to understand their personalities and motivations. Your readers learn about your characters through their actions, but also from their thoughts, conversations and introspection. Although these parts are not inherently exciting, they serve to make the exciting scenes more exhilarating because when your characters run into danger, your audience will actually care about what happens to them.
Do you find it difficult to keep track of all the different subplots as you’re writing? Do you even lose sight of the main plot at times? If it is getting difficult for you as the writer, imagine how confusing it would be to your readers.
Your story can have many characters, all with their own subplots and objectives. However, when all the subplots start cluttering up the main plot, it is probably time to get rid of some of the unnecessary ideas.
If it hurts to delete some of the characters you have created, you don’t actually have to “get rid” of any of them. Simply remove them from your main plot, but you can keep them for a more suitable story or perhaps even make them the main characters of their own novels. Look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for one. That many characters with their own complicated plots could not fit into one single story, but they each get the chance to star in their own book.
Have you ever watched that movie or read that book and thought, that was such a predictable ending?
This can happen due to a number of reasons. You could have given too many clues away, or your plot may have only so many possibilities, or your story could have followed an “overdone” plot so that your readers already know exactly how everything is going to go.
Maybe your story drops clear ideas instead of merely suggesting possibilities. Instead of catching the antagonist red-handed in the deed, show them preparing something for the crime, and let the readers wonder what it is for.
Sometimes, this may be difficult to spot as a writer who already knows how the ending of the story is going to go. This is where getting someone else to read through your story helps. Ask them to give you a genuine opinion on whether they expected that ending and if so, what led them to expect it.
Have you spotted any of these pitfalls in your story? One may get very engrossed in writing, but it is important to take a break sometimes and read through your work to make sure it all still makes sense.
Don’t get worried if you do find a loophole in your plot – no story is perfect from when writers first pen it down. After all, drafts are only drafts and are meant to be revised. Keep improving your work towards a great story!
Nov 28, 2019