How to Write a Plot for a Short Story made Simple

It is easy to write a plot once you understand the meaning of a plot and the steps you need to know while writing a story.

A plot is a series of events placed in an order to make up a story.

Your plot could be written as a story, a poem, a song or even a film.

Learn how to open your story here.

A plot has character or characters in a setting who face a problem which they need to overcome. Your story may take place over a period of a few hours in one location or over a longer period with movement to more than one location.

What is the Role of a Plot

A plot helps the writer to stay within a word limit and gives direction to the story.

It gathers a reader’s attention and sympathy at the beginning of the story and poses a question. The reader likes to stay on to see the character overcoming their problem and get a satisfying answer to the question.

A plot moves through a period of time while following the theme – tragedy, comedy, romance –of the story.

At the end, the reader understands the message of the story.

A Simple Structure for a Plot

Aristotle gave the concept of Beginning-Middle-End to write a plot.

Beginning: In the beginning, the writer introduces characters, the setting and location and the story’s dramatic question. Right here, the plot grabs the reader’s attention and sympathy who is eager to find out more.

Middle: The story takes a turn and now the hero faces obstacles and difficulties.

End: The problem is solved at the end of the story. This is where the story should head since the beginning of the story.

Let’s elaborate the three steps when you write a plot further.

A Plot with Five Steps

Exposition: This is the first step where the story introduces the character, location, setting and a hint of the conflict.

Rising action: This is the beginning of the conflict and the part when the action builds up. A series of events take place, characters are established and the conflict begins.

Climax: This is also called the turning point and the moment of high tension. The character comes face to face with the conflict. And the reader wonders what happens next. Learn more about Climax in a plot.

Falling action: The conflict is resolved and all the loose ends are tied up now.

Resolution: This is when the story ends on a happy or sad note.

write a plot

Some Examples

Plot 1: Rita has a pet dog Timmy whom she loves with all her heart. One day, the dog is missing from the house, The search for the dog begins. Rita is miserable. Finally, the dog returns home in the evening.

Plot 2: Sam is fond of the mountains and dreams of climbing a peak.  He finally gets his wish to join an excursion. He encounters adventures and obstacles. Finally, he manages to fulfil his dream.

Some Guidelines to Write a Plot

Try using a time line to build up the outline of your story.

Write out a series of scenes – based on your outline – with description, dialogues and action.

The spotlight, when you write a plot, should be on the main characters of your story and how they develop.

Bring in curiosity in your reader right at the beginning – with a dramatic question or an appropriate opening – so that they stay to find out what happens to the characters.

Your plot could begin with a flashback or other techniques.

Once you have finished your first draft check to see – does your plot have an obstacle and does your character undergo a change?

Your short story would get too cumbersome with more than one plot. You may experiment with a couple of sub plots.

Bring in characters who feel real, with their strength and weaknesses.

When you write a plot, show some action in your scenes. Make your characters move from one location to another or use a transport.

Another thing that works for many writers is to write the end first and then make the plot head that way.

At the end, do your readers get the answer to the question raised at the beginning? Do they get the message of your story?


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