Plot – get your characters into trouble.

A friend of mine just asked me to write about writing.  She’s been working on an idea for a while and asked me what to do to help it turn into a story.

Great ideas are FANTASTIC!!!   Often we will have a character, a hero or villain that we are fascinated with.  Maybe we’ve thought of a setting, or a really cool item that the character gets hold of.

But in order for it to go anywhere, you need to ask yourself, what’s next?

Conflict, crisis, and resolution are the three things that make up story – “because in literature, only trouble is interesting” (Burroway, p.31).

I found a really wonderful love story in a book on writing –  (Writing Fiction,  Janet Burroway, 1996, HarperCollins, p.31).

“Jan and Jon meet in college.  Both are beautiful, intelligent, talented, popular, and well adjusted. [They are completely compatible on all levels].  Their parents become fast friends.  They marry on graduating…get rewarding work…have three children, all of whom are healthy, happy, beautiful, intelligent, and popular; the children love and respect their parents…the children succeed in work and marriage.  Jan and Jon die peacefully, of natural causes, at the same moment, at the age of eighty-two and are buried in the same grave.”

I’m sure this story is wonderful for the couple, but really, who would buy it?

It’s hard to do sometimes, but you’ve got to get your characters in trouble.  Add character flaws, an evil foe, a sad twist of events, a huge disappointment.



  • What do people need to know?  Why?
  • How do we introduce our characters?  Are we going to write to describe or show a picture?


  • What happens?
  • Why is this a problem?
  • What power struggles are involved?


  • What brings it all together?
  • How or why will your character face the major problem(s)?


  • How will we solve the problem?
  • What happens to the people when the problem is solved?

This is something that kids love.  I just asked my five year old to help me write a story.

I asked her if we were to write a story about a girl who had to face a monster, what kind of monster would it be?

A vampire

What would the monster do to the girl?

Try to suck her blood out.

What would we do to stop it?

The girl would poke out her eyes.

A little gross, I grant you. But the point is that with a little direction, kids, who are naturally creative, can start making up fun stories from an early age.

More to come on writing with kids soon!

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