Whether you are an experienced writer with a career in publishing or an aspiring graduate looking for a way to break into the writers’ world, an exciting and intriguing plot is all it takes for you to stand out from the crowd.
However, coming up with a script or a book outline lucrative enough to attract financial backers or studios to fund your work can be extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. According to Author’s Guild, only 21% of full-time authors make the whole of their income from writing, while others have to look for part-time jobs to make ends meet, as self-published authors earn 58% less than those in contract with a publisher or a studio.
These numbers shouldn’t discourage you from building your own career in writing however as they only serve to showcase the current state of the writing industry. With that said, what are some of the essential tips and guidelines for coming up with writing ideas which can result in the development of an exciting plot worth publishing or turning into a motion picture? Let’s take a look.
- Brainstorm Ideas
Coming up with an idea for your plot, you should simply brainstorm and see where the road takes you. A multitude of brainstorming techniques including mind mapping, SMART or rapid ideation can help you discover interesting new ideas, plot developments and other writing elements at any point in time.
Most of these methods require a simple pen-and-paper combination of tools to get started. The ideas you filter out can be edited and formatted to make more sense in a sales pitch or a title for your story via writing platforms such as Trust My Paper and Evernote respectively.
- Settle for a Genre
Coming up with the perfect idea for your plot can get a little technical, so let’s take things one step at a time. Settling for a genre of storytelling should be your first station on the way to exciting plot development.
Does your idea belong to history, alt-history, sci-fi, horror, comedy or romance – or something in between? Lock down your genre early on to limit your range of ideas and focus on important elements which will be relevant to your story.
- World-Building Matters
What is the state of the world in which your story takes place? Is your world utopian, dystopian or resembles our world more closely? You can easily create a sci-fi story grounded in reality or alternatively, a future story based in realism if you choose to do so.
Angela Christie, Chief Content Writer at Studicus spoke on the matter recently: “Your plot’s immersion will often depend on how believable to the world you’ve created is to the reader. Even fantastical, hard science fiction or magical elements can be exciting parts of your story if you take time to develop the meaning and history behind their existence in your plot.”
Develop the details of your world, its rules, history and what can and cannot happen within it. Knowing the ground rules of your world will make coming up with a plot set in its boundaries much easier and cohesive as a result.
- Define your Characters
One of the most organic ways to come up with a plot for your story is to come up with its characters beforehand. If your characters are living, breathing individuals in the story’s outline, the plot will naturally happen to them as you write.
With that said, you should have a proverbial protagonist (whom we follow), an antagonist (working against them), as well as supporting characters. Your protagonist can be righteous, morally-gray or outright villainous since there really are no rules as to what you can and cannot do. Focus on creating believable individuals for your story and the plot itself will become clearer as they come into existence on paper.
- Don’t Avoid Subplots
Subplots can be a great way for you to give meaning to the main plot regardless of how original or creative it may seem on its own. Give your characters and world small stories which will play out alongside the main story and allow them to change over time.
Too many subplots and your main plot will suffer for it – too few, and your story will seem too straightforward or barren as a result. Define your subplots at the same time you create the main plot to have the two elements “click” together in a more seamless way.
- Choose your Medium
Writing a script for a motion picture or a televised series is different than writing a novel or a comic book. As such, you should have a clear idea of which medium will serve to carry your story once the plot is created.
Books offer more freedom to explore individual characters, motivations and subplots while movies set strict length and mandates for you to abide from day one. Retrofitting your script and plot into different mediums through writing and editing services such as Grab My Essay and Hemingway can help you format the plot for different communication channels should you wish to adapt the script into other formats.
- Change the Status Quo
In order for your plot to make an impact on the reader, its status quo has to change from introduction to conclusion. For example, if your two characters are interested in each other at the start, they should be together or already broken up at the end of the plot – this will change the state in which we first found them.
Changing the status quo of your plot from point A to point B is one of the fundamental principles of good storytelling. Don’t be afraid to introduce twists and changes in your plot which will intrigue the reader into further immersion and enjoyment of your story – take them for a ride and they’ll be thankful for it.
- Get Feedback from Peers
Writing a plot without outside consultation or supervision from an editor with experience in writing might cost you a lot of time and resources in rewrites and revisions. Whether through online forums or social circles, you should always consult a friend or a colleague on your writing so far.
Individuals who choose to comment on your plot’s creativity and technical details will be invaluable in making sure that your writing is ready for public viewing. Take every opinion under consideration, revise plot elements no one agrees with and try to iron out technical shortcomings or formatting mistakes before pitching your idea to a publishing house or a production studio.
Share with the World (Conclusion)
The hardest part of any writing process comes when you have to share the labor of your work with the world. Facing public criticism and waiting for the approval of readers across the world can be a nerve-racking experience.
However, writing without the intent to publish is a wasted opportunity for your talents and creativity as a writer. Spruce up your plot and share it with the world when you feel comfortable and satisfied with what you’ve created – the right audience will always recognize and reward the heart and soul you’ve poured into your writing.
Bio: Nicole D. Garrison is a content strategist, writer, and contributor at TrustMyPaper and a number of platforms for marketing specialists such as PickTheWriter. She is a dedicated and experienced author who pays particular attention to quality research. In her free time, Nicole is a passionate runner and a curious beekeeper. Moreover, she runs her own blog LiveInspiredMagazine.