Writer’s Digest – Plot and Structure


Fundamentals: Choose one of Bell’s “Top Twenty Ways to Get Hundreds of Plot Ideas” from pages 38-49 and use it to generate two or three possible story ideas. Then choose one story idea you feel drawn to and begin writing without thinking too much about it, as the purpose of the exercise is to explore ways of generating creativity and possible plot ideas. Write 250-300 unselfconscious words using whichever method you’ve chosen from the chapter (e.g., 8. Stealing From the Best or 9. Flipping a Genre) as your temporary title. You needn’t write anything explaining how you did the assignment (or even whom you “stole” from, or what genres you flipped, in the above examples). In fact, you don’t have to explain yourself or the product to anyone. All you have to do is to get used to generating creativity and new ideas using one of these methods.

Stealing From the Best: If Shakespeare could do it, you can too. Steal your plots. Take old plots and weave “your particular magic” into them. Originality is the key to plagiarism. You cannot lift the exact plot, with the same characters intact, but you may take a pattern and use it, and plot is nothing more than a story’s pattern.

1. Halo Universe: a military fleet threatened by an unimaginably powerful enemy, that seems to have the weapons of war born of unnatural and inhuman means, momentarily escapes oblivion to fight another day. Followed to a mystic fortress, the fleet discovers something far worse than archaic beasts of combat.

2. Hunger Games Universe: the children of the empire are forced to endure the harshness of a dreaded forest; it’s a test of survival instinct, unflinching obedience, and strength of will. The citizens are forced to sacrifice their young to a sadistic and vicious king, a self-proclaimed god amongst mortals. But justifiable resentment is building, and a young Kadnisha Everdeen will soon lead the revolt that will topple the throne, and she is just twelve years old. (Game of Thrones anyone? :-))

3. Pride and Prejudice Universe: Keira Bennet believes that Doctor Darcy Macfadyen stands for all that is wrong with the world; he is obnoxiously wealthy and feeds upon the less-than-fortunate. She hates him. But their lives are about to be thrust into an adventure of apocalyptic proportions, forcing them to rely on one another for survival. When it seems it would be only the two of them left in all the world, Keira must reassess her feelings for this “kindly” doctor that did all he could to rescue her and her sisters from a horde of hungry zombies.


Halo Reimagined

The Pillar of Autumn was the most splendid Man-of-War in all of the Spaniard Military fleet. It was a massive vessel, eluding both majestic illustriousness and battle-spirit. It not only obliterated the enemy, but did so without receiving damage. And with its unprecedented crew of three hundred, it was clear it was the future of ocean warfare.

The English Royal Fleet was jealous indeed.

In this time of relative peace though, the mighty vessel was docked in the military city of Alcance, a wondrous place for any military man. But Commander Miguel Claves itched for excitement. He stood at the helm of the vessel wanting to set sail, but he and his crew had orders to remain docked. There were no active traitors to the Spanish Crown lately. Spain was too formidable.

Commander Miguel smiled at the thought of being invincible. He stood straighter, his eyes affixed upon the calmness of the sea. He had much to be proud of: a flawless military record, the unrelenting support of the Spanish Crown, a beautiful daughter named Josephina, and the confidence of the Holy Roman Church.

No one knew it, outside of the Commander and his Lieutenant, but aboard his vessel was hid away one of the greatest secrets of the war against the pirates: a holy knight in blessed armor, which was argued by some to have been created by the Angels of God.

“No!” a cry fell unto the commander’s ears. He rushed to the Starboard side and found one of his soldiers pointing skyward. Commander Miguel looked up, and descending upon him and his crew were winged beasts of fur and horns, controlled by sickly brutes wielding axes and cleavers. These creatures had called themselves the Covenant, in an attempt to mock the Holy Church.

A mistake.

Commander Miguel smiled; he was going to see some combat after-all.


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