Writing Challenge: Plots

Posted: March 25, 2012 in For writers
Tags: , , , , ,

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.  But first, I’ll be nice and give you an example.

Example:  Judy and Michelle meet at a restaurant.

1)  They are work colleagues, meeting to discuss business, which includes a plot to dethrone their micro-managing director through a series of nasty rumors.

2) They are old high school chums, reuniting for the first time in fifteen years.  Tales of romance, tragedy, and dreams left unfulfilled abound.

3)  They are complete strangers, put at the same table because there is no where else to seat them.  They agree to share a table and a chance encounter turns into a budding friendship and support through the illness and death of Michelle’s husband.

4)  They are lovers, meeting in the middle of the day to share some quiet time together, a respite in a busy day, keeping the romance alive.

5)  They are ex-lovers, meeting to settle some unfinished business.

6) They are ex-lovers to the same man, meeting to share and commiserate on being dumped.   Judy enjoys giving Michelle “I warned you” lectures.

7) They are sisters, catching up with each other since Judy returned from a five year diplomatic assignment in Norway.

8)  They are mother and daughter, trying to be civil to each other and failing badly at it.  Each wonders why she tries.

9)  The restaurant is on the planet Mijoram.  Judy is Michelle’s mentor.

Imagine the person and what could possibly be happening.  Stretch your writer’s imagination a bit.  Your turn.

Pat always knew this day would come.




Thanks for playing!


  1. […] Here is Chris’s writing challenge:  Read more about it on her blog […]

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    Hi Chris, here are my answers. I thought at first I’d post them here, but the answers got to long. So here is the link.


  3. Reblogged this on Sillyfrog's Blog and commented:
    I’m going to try this…

  4. […] fun to me, so I am jumping in here. If you think you might enjoy trying it out, go see her post HERE. Go ahead, give it a try, and leave a comment at her place so we can see what you came up […]

  5. […] 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: […]

  6. irenelefort says:

    Reblogged this on Irene's Words and commented:
    I am going to try this tomorrow. 🙂

  7. diggingher says:

    I tried to send a reply this morning from my iPhone in the communter van…that didn’t go as hoped or planned so I am back again.
    1. Pat always knew the day would come when she would get her diploma and pass the bar exam, she is now ready to strike out on her own. The high-powered law firm she interned for last summer has offered her a job. She is about to sign the lease on a great apartment in the city when she got the news…
    2. Pat always knew the day would come when she would be displaced from the top dog spot as super-model as the publics and photographers favorite. She just never anticipated that her young however beautiful cousin would replace her. This is really going to be a problem…
    3. Pat knew that eventually some day the town would tear down the old house that she grew up in. She just never anticipated that when the demolition crew began to wade through the debris there would be such a discovery…

  8. Louise says:

    Pat knew this day would come….

    1) She was surprised the knock on the door hadn’t come sooner. The lies, the records, the security system: someone had to know. She opened the door for the young Police officer who stood nervously on the verandah, “what took you so long?” she croaked.

    2) Roger was quiet this morning, every word was an effort as his sentences trailled off into sleep. Even though they’d spent every day together for months, made plans, talked out all their fears and included some favourite songs for his funeral, it still felt all wrong. She still wasn’t prepared.

    3) He was glad he’d stuck it through despite changing streams in first year. Four years of hard work, late nights and crappy part time jobs had lead him here. Finally. He waited for his name to be called and strode out proudly, his cap and gown billowing behind him.

    Hope you liked them!

  9. Judy says:

    Great idea…. sure wish I was a writer.

    Ummmm that would be me, #6, saying “I told you so…I warned you” …. lol 😉

    PS…I liked being a character in a plot for a day. Thanks!

  10. […] is a writing exercise initiated by Chris. Here is the link to the original post. The task is to come up with many plot ideas for a given […]

  11. […] Now I challenge you to pick the one you liked the best and describe Pat.  Here are links to my blog with your answers, and here is Cee’s reblog where others of you posted, just so you can remember what you […]

  12. […] More about the challenge here. […]

  13. […] come.“  Now I challenge you to pick the one you liked the best and describe Pat.  Here are links to my blog with your answers, and here is Cee’s reblog where others of you posted, just so you can remember what you wrote.  […]

  14. […] post was in response to Chris Donner’s first post (last week) from her new Weekly Writing Challenge! Hope you enjoyed these completely spontaneous and random little plots. Haha. Stay tuned for this […]

  15. amberrosalie says:

    Sorry, it’s a little late, but better late than never, right? 😛
    They’re a little random and obscure, but here we have it..

    1. The day a Mother’s child was ripped from her arms was the day the war started. Not just any Mother either, but Isis, the Queen of the Eastern Lands. Only fourteen years old, the daughter was kidnapped by a masked soldier who barely made it from the castle with both the child and his life. But Pat always knew this day would come. For she had seen it, many years ago.

    2. Pat always knew this day would come. Seeing the feathers in her brother’s bed could only mean one thing. She had been hoping he wouldn’t turn out like her. He was too young, too out of control. He could never keep this a secret let alone understand what it meant, or the responsibilities for that matter. She would now have to teach him, try to explain and warn him. Their parents couldn’t help, they’d disappeared and unless she could control her little brother, they would disappear also. She couldn’t ask her Aunt for help either, but she had to do something. She had no choice, not now that her brother had sprouted wings..

    3. This was the last straw. Destroying her house, she could handle, having to move countries, she could deal with, killing her boyfriend, too far. No more would she run, no more would she hide from him. No more would she try to have a normal life – he had destroyed that anyway. It was time she finally stoop up and fought back. So long she had been trying to deny her destiny, to deny the strength coursing through her veins. Today that all changed. Pat always knew this day would come eventually. Today, she began the hunt for her ex-husband.

    Amber. xx

  16. Pat always knew this day would come:

    1. When the body would be found by the old mill. He knew that when this happened the police would find the real Pat. He would no longer be able to inhabit that persona.
    2. Her search for her birth mother would be over. She found her. She had been murdered, and that had been left by someone at church. Was that someone the killer? Or the one who discovered the body?
    3. He found the treasure. The long search was over and his team of salvage experts had found the treasure of the century.

  17. Pat always knew this day would come. When the police car stopped in front of her house she told herself that it was a routine patrol, knowing it was a lie. Smoothing her hair and straightening her sweater, she took one last look at her cozy living room. Taking a deep breath she walked to the door, reached for the handle, and opened it.

  18. […] fun to me, so I am jumping in here. If you think you might enjoy trying it out, go see her post HERE. Go ahead, give it a try, and leave a comment at her place so we can see what you came up […]

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