Get out paper and a pen or pencil and brainstorm words or names that you like or that intrigue you for 1-5 minutes (enough to generate a good-sized list) . For example, on a road trip I saw a sign for a city named Appledore. I carried that name around in my head for a number of years before it appeared in a novel I was working on. One year at graduation, I discovered one of my student’s middle names was Lillianna. That stuck with me. I love the words serendipity, gleaming, sparkle, and sunlight. Any of these could be a viable candidate for my list.
After you have generated your list, choose one word or name from it and jot down some ideas for how this word or name could have come into existence.
Now plot a story explaining how this word or name came into existence. Remember a good plot contains:
- A beginning–a brief introduction to who the main character is and the initial circumstances or situation in which he or she exists. (This usually includes some depiction of the setting.)
- An inciting incident—some problem or challenge that intrudes on the main character’s “normal” life.
- Rising Action/Conflict—attempts, failures, and learning experiences the main character takes part in while trying to resolve the problem/challenge.
- A climax—one last trial the main character faces where he or she must make a decision that will change his or her life forever.
- A denouement—where the consequences of the character’s choice play out.
- An End—showing the main character experiencing a “new normal”—and in the case of this writing prompt, the audience understanding how the word or name that is the subject of the story came into being.
After devising your plot plan, write one page of a scene from your story and revise as needed.
When done, read what you’ve written to your writing partners (both the plot plan and the scene to accompany it) or share these here as a comment. Compliment one another on how well the basics of plot were included in the tale. And of course, tell the author what you liked or what delighted you in each tale.
Have fun on this plotting adventure!