Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Story Designs

Happy Tuesday! Wow. We're into day two of the week and already it looks like it's gonna be five days that feel longer than they should be. But, as always, we must continue to press on. Today's post may lighten your mood a bit. I'm discussing plots. That's right, those timeless things we all have to consider when beginning to craft our novels. NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and I know we're all gearing up to take part in the most fabulous writerly collective to ever happen. Maybe this post will spark some ideas for you. So, grab those pens and pencils and let's get going!

There are several structures you'll see used in novels. I'm gonna go over the most common ones.
  1. The Boy She Can't Have - A female meets a male, and something is keeping them apart. We read on to the end to find out if they can ever resolve the obstacle and end up together. Many variations of this have happened, and there could be more than one thing the two need to overcome before they can be together. A sub-plot often includes another male the female may have an interest in, and she ends up having to choose. As an aside: This can also be male meets male or female meets female (LGBT romance). It's becoming more popular, and shouldn't be overlooked.
  2. Taking Down the Bad Guy - Your society has a tyrant in control and he/she must be brought to justice somehow. This can also be Taking Down the Regime.
  3. All Grown Up - How the protagonist matures to find inner strength through the span of life. A twist on this could be they can't die and end up having to live more than one life. May be physical or emotional aging.
  4. Oh! The Grass is Greener. . . Right? - Your protagonist dreams of a brave, new world where everything is rainbows and butterflies, and everyone thinks he/she is the best. This person is probably feeling trapped, ostracized, or enslaved. But, once they get to their salvation, they realize what they had before wasn't so terrible after all, and they long for nothing but to return to life the way it was.
  5. The Cinderella Syndrome - Poor girl/guy comes to fabulous riches through some means. It can be hard work, a fairy godmother, or a stroke of luck (like a winning lottery ticket). Your protagonist must be rewarded greatly. Be sure it doesn't turn into a Grass is Greener situation.
  6. Cold to Hot - When the bitter heart of another is morphed into love once again. We all like to think people can be saved (even when at their worst), so this tale is about the most terrible villain brought to love once again by the most unassuming thing. Usually works best with something you never thought could bring a baddy to his/her knees.
  7. The Little Engine that Could - Someone from humble beginnings sets the world right again. Basically, you're crafting a future hero for the people. 
  8. Obtaining the Unobtainable - Many people have tried, and failed. But your protagonist succeeds. Think of lost treasure or a super power/bit of knowledge others have died trying to own.
As you can see, there are many structures for novels. When you get crazy fun, you can twist the plot to look like you're taking down the bad guy, only to have the worst person not be the one in the line of fire.

I suggest letting that happen organically. If you see it coming, your reader will, too.

No matter what structure you use, be sure you're writing in the genre expected by the reader. You don't want to bill it as a romance then kill off the lover at the end, or have your heroine running for her life while being chased by a mainiacle killer the whole time. Make sense?

What's your favorite structure/plot? Are you a Boy She Can't Have fan, or do you tend more toward The Cinderella Syndrome? Inquiring minds wanna know!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I used to love Cinderella type stories more, but I feel like I'm outgrowing them a bit. Your list covered so many book themes I currently have in my TBR pile!

    1. They're the most common ones. I'm totally itching for NaNo to get here. I wanna write Desiree's Apocalypse for this round :) I see you reading and reviewing more horror and other genres these days. Hope you'll consider the YA anthology/hybrid book my group is writing right now :)


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