The Craft of Writing

Predictable Plots:  How to prevent getting stuck in ho hum plots.

First, there are two major plot elements: Character conflicts and Plot conflicts.

If the stakes are too low for either, there is little suspense.

Character conflict focuses on the internal struggle of the protagonist.

Plot Conflict focuses on the  external obstacles that complicates the protagonist’s life.

Getting readers to turn the page to find out what happens next is what drives readers to stay with your story. Readers don’t always want insight, unless your novel is primarily character driven, they want a thrilling ride. They want a story that catapults them into a life that is exciting and daring.

First, if plot driven, raise the stakes through the element of surprise. This takes, dare I say it: Plotting. If you are a  seat of your pants plotter, you may want to jot down areas where a surprise or a twist will be effective. Sometimes writers find their way by letting the plot drive itself. Some writers know the ending before they start and this helps the writer to create surprises along the way.

If you are a plotter who outlines the entire novel, you can identify where the surprises will have the most effect. Writers often call this a strategy of beats and arcs.

If your novel is character driven, insight and motivation is what drives the story. The element of surprise holds here as well. A character evolves through the scope of the story. Surprise choices that go against the character’s initial motivation keeps the reader guessing.  This goes for the both the protagonist and the antagonist.

Suggestion: Read stories in your genre and compare how they have similar plots and decide which one is more original or works better than the other.