Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Developing Plots by Fiona Ingram

Developing Plots
by Fiona Ingram

Many young writers feel challenged by what seems to be such a daunting task—writing a story. They wonder how they will ever remember the who, what, why, when and where of their proposed story. Nothing is easy without practice and as we all know, practice makes perfect. My suggestion for a young writer wanting to put their own story down is to start with stories they already enjoy.

Read some of your favorite books, the ones that had you longing for more excitement. Or the one that was so fascinating you read it more slowly so the book did not end too soon. Or the one where you were so tired but could not put it down until you knew the hero was safe … for now. Think about why the author had you captivated from the start. The author probably came up with a great idea right away, an idea that gripped you. It could have been a mystery, a quest, a journey, a mission, and perhaps something that seemed impossible for the hero to accomplish. The author then drew you into the story which had unexpected twists and turns, surprises, and sometime disasters that affected the hero. The plot is what makes a hero or heroine who they are. Every plot has a story to tell, and that story follows a certain sequence. Sure, you can jump around and have side excursions, but every writer should bring his hero back to the main story soon enough.

Creating a great plot. Write your initial plot down in a few words. Keep it simple. “My story is about (my hero) who is faced with (a challenge, a dilemma, a problem) and how he/she overcomes the challenge or solves the problem. A tip: stick to the kind of story that you like to read, or else material that interests you. If you love football, then don’t make your hero a hockey player. Place your story in a setting that you either know about, or would enjoy researching.

How to Construct your Storyline. Structure is very important otherwise you’ll forget something important, and your story will fall to pieces. Carefully outline your initial plot with more detail. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon, or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …?); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next. You can introduce new characters and other story lines to add interest to your main plot. Don’t forget to always bring your readers back to the main plot.

As your plot develops you’ll find your characters will grow by their experiences. A tip: as your characters appear in the story and new developments take place, keep a notebook on the side and make notes to remind yourself of all the small details. Don’t forget that depending on the situation and location of your story, you may have to research facts. Make sure your information is as accurate as possible to make your story more enjoyable for your readers.

About the author:

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has finished the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.


  1. Great tips and a wonderful post by Fiona Ingram. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for hosting me. It is wonderful to share with other writers.


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