Writing Challenge — Plots

Chris Donner, Mystery Writer has come up with a very interesting challenge, and one that comes at a perfect time for me.  If you follow the link above, you can read more at Chris’ blog.  This is what she says:

Plots!  Where do they come from?  How do you come up with them?  That’s what I wanted to know before I became a writer.  In fact, the idea of coming up with plots was the single most thing that prevented me from writing.  Words, character development, description, dialogue… all of that I can do.  But how do you come up with a plot?

Now that I’ve done a few of them, it seems simple, but at the beginning it was daunting.  Hallie Ephron’s “Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel” has some great pointers.  The place to start, though, is to open yourself up to possibility.  Here’s a little exercise for you… I’ll give you a topic and you write as many plot ideas as you can come up with.

Chris’ challenge is the first truly literary challenge in which I have participated, and I welcome the opportunity to learn some ways of selecting good plot lines.  The prompt is:

Pat knew this day would come.

(Deep breath)

  1. Pat is a man with long-term Type I diabetes.  He is told that he must go on kidney dialysis.  Pat knew this day would come, but he had hoped to have a little more time.  And right now — he was about halfway through the intricate plan to steal the strategy for building the machine, and if he couldn’t finish, he’d be having dialysis in the jail hospital.
  2. Pat knew this day would come, when the direction of her whole life depended on the unopened envelope in her hand.  It was from UCLA, where she had applied for a scholarship to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in their very famous, very exclusive UCLA school of Theater, Film, and Television.  And she wanted to be in Los Angeles, to investigate her brother’s inexplicable death from poison.
  3. As Pat packed his clothes, he thought about why he was leaving the church.  He loved the people, and the town, but from the very beginning, Pat knew this day would come.  There was just something spooky about this place — especially in the last few weeks, as first one, and then three other members of the congregation had died of some kind of virus the doctors couldn’t identify.  He had to get out of here, before the investigations started.
  4. Pat could feel the butterflies in her stomach.  Actually, they seemed more like tennis balls being knocked into the sides of her stomach by some great athlete.  Pat knew this day would come, but she didn’t anticipate the entire Luigi family in the courtroom.   As she walked toward the witness chair, she saw Tammy Luigi sitting with her lawyers. And even though Pat hated to testify against her best friend, it would have been easier if Tammy wasn’t the youngest daughter of the biggest Mafia boss in New York.
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6 responses to “Writing Challenge — Plots

  1. Dear Judith,
    Number 3 is excellent, it makes me want to read the story NOW, it’s ignited all sorts of questions about Pat. Is he good or bad? What, if anything, does he have to do with this virus? If he loves his job so much why is he running? HOW did he know that day would come? Why is he worried about the investigations? And there’s more, but the big one, the snare, is what does he have to hide? He’s an interesting character already, that’s what makes number 3 my favourite – if you have a great character to start with don’t worry too much about the plot, it’ll flow from what the character tells you they want to do. 🙂
    Love Dotty xxx

    • Dear Dotty,

      What terrific questions! Now I’m curious. My guess is this will be the plot of my first short story! I have to work today, won’t be around until 10:30. I’ll write more then. I hope you and Emily had a lovely visit!
      😎

      Love,

      Judith

    • Thank you, Cee. I had one other, but it didn’t make much sense, so I stayed with four. I forgot to send the link to Chris — if she says anything, I’m working on that right now. Thanks for your kind words. 😎

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