Tuesday, 23 December 2014

12 days of writing: plot-layering

This Christmas, sneak off for twenty minutes to half an hour each day for some lovely, restful creative play with the 12 Days of Writing. If you've just joined in, start your story here. Each day, you get a new prompt to develop it further. (Subscribe to the blog on the top right to get it emailed to you.)

Plot-layering: the plot thickens...



If you're not sure what plot-layering is, or why we need it, have a look at this cartoon first.

Flip through everything you've got so far. What's your character's goal? What problem(s) stand in their way? Write both of those down.

Now we're going to add layers by adding masses of obstacles and masses more reasons for it to matter. (To keep within a reasonable amount of time, spend about 5-10 minutes on the obstacles and another 5-10 minutes on why it matters.)

Obstacles: add…


  • a physical difficulty
  • a personality trait that makes it more difficult
  • 3+ external obstacles
  • Check your character’s goal. Is it still possible? If YES, add more difficulties & obstacles.

Why does it matter?


  • Why do we support the character?
  • Who else in their life depends on them?
  • What other people will be affected by their success / failure?
  • What good things will happen if they overcome the problem?
  • What bad things will happen if they don’t overcome the problem?
  • Check your character’s motivation. Will they still do it, even though it’s so difficult? If NO, make it matter even more.

By now your character's should be in a brilliant catch-22 - don't worry, that's a good thing!


Tomorrow we'll play with Tension & Stakes. If you want to share what you invent, tweet me @WritersGreenHse. I'd love to hear.

For more on exploring and enriching stories, you can download the Story Elements: The Complete Set - only available until the end of 30 December 2014. Find out more, see previews, and download it here.

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