So, we have setting, we have characters, now you want something to happen to them. These things that happen are plot and story.

When it comes to writing, your plot and story might develop concurrently, or you start with a plot and the story comes as you’re writing it, or you know what story you want to write and you try to write a plot around that. Basically, this is a disclaimer that while we will be talking about plot structure and discuss specific plot points in these structures, this discussion is more about theoretical frame work and thinking about how plot is structured in preexisting media than it is about how to create a plot. That’s not to say that you can’t use these as reference– think of it like a mac and cheese recipe. The overall product is recognizable, but maybe you baked yours in the oven as opposed to doing it on the stove top, or maybe you used Velveeta instead of actual cheese. The process that you use to get there is more important than making sure that it fits a specific outline. Furthermore, you’re not going to find a writer or storyteller that will tell you to sacrifice story for plot. Maybe you decide to throw bacon in with the mac and cheese, or want to try using blue cheese or feta instead of cheddar or Colby. If the story is pulling you in one direction, follow it. Even if you end up turning back later, you’ll have learned something about your writing instincts and what you want out of a story.

That being said, having an idea of where you’re going when you start can help guide that process.

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