Most writers have, in some way or the other, struggled with how to further the plot of their story. To help out with this all too familiar problem, Srishti Chaudhary, author of several short stories on the Juggernaut App, Once Upon a Curfew, and upcoming Lallan Sweets, takes us through her super helpful writing workshop where she talks about techniques to build and enhance the plot of your stories for the #ReadInstead Lit Fest.
- Ek tha raja ek thi rani, dono mar gaye khatam kahaani. It is an old Hindi saying but is it a good story? Or let’s say a boy meets a girl. They fall in love. They get married and live happily ever after. Is that a story that you would like to buy a book of, spend 4-5 hours with, if that’s all that happens in the story? Maybe not because there’s no plot in the story.
- The difference between the story and the plot is essential. A story is what happens, the plot is why it happens. E. M. Forster explained the difference between a plot and a story really cleverly. He said that a good example of a story is: the King and the Queen died. A good example of a plot is: the King and the Queen died of grief. The plot explains the causality behind a sequence of events.
- Srishti likes to think of the story as the skeleton, the structure, and the plot as the meat or the flesh, that supports the skeleton and explains why this story is a particular way. The plot explains what is the point of the story. Then there is in fact a point to this story. The plot explains the cause and the effects that are taking place in a story. She uses the ‘Three-Circle-Approach’ to make and build the plots of her many stories.
- The ‘Three-circle-Approach’ comprises three concentric circles. The outer circle is the circle for the setting of the story. The setting is what slowly starts to turn the story into a plot.
- The second circle, inside the first circle, is the circle for the characters of the story who will essentially drive the plot. Who are the people who are situated in the setting? Once you have your characters in place, once you’ve characterized them strongly enough, you will be one step closer to creating a good plot.
- The third and final circle, situated centrally within both these circles, is the circle of stakes. because this circle questions – What is at stake? It really is the core and the nucleus of your plot. What is it that you’re trying to say from the story? What is the story that you’re trying to tell, because there can’t be just characters in a story. There can be great characters, but what are they trying to do? What are they trying to achieve? What are the obstacles that they have to overcome? What is it that they are trying to get done in this world? These three elements together make up a plot.
The setting – a cafe. It’s a cutesy cafe where people sit and drink coffee and work at the same time. So everyone’s there with their laptops, people are sharing tables.
The characters – There is a boy and a girl, and I will leave it up to you to characterize them. What sort of people are they? Is he a tall guy or a short guy? Is she a super talkative girl, or like really focused on what she’s doing and doesn’t want to be disturbed. You can characterize these two people in any which way you want.
The nucleus/ What is at stake – These two people are strangers. They are sitting together and working and somehow their laptops get exchanged and one of them leaves. What happens next? What do they end up finding on the other person’s laptop? Do they try to contact each other? Do they try to go through each other’s stuff? Do they open up the laptop and find something written about them? Or maybe they open up the laptop and find the planning of a conspiracy of a terrorist attack? Or secret information about a company?
Go wild! Try to write a story from this prompt and you can easily identify how all three of these components are present in this plot prompt.
Srishti’s stories are now free to read on the Juggernaut App!
Stay in, stay safe, and #ReadInstead!