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From Idea to Plot: A Guide to Developing Your Story Idea

One of the most exciting parts of writing a story is coming up with the idea, but turning that idea into a fully formed plot can be a daunting task.

In today's post, we'll take you through the steps of developing your story idea until the point that you are ready to outline (or not, if you are a pantser) from deciding on the concept, making sure it has a hook, creating a strong central conflict and, finally, discovering your theme.

Step 1: Decide on Your Concept

The first step in developing your story idea is to decide on your concept. A concept is the foundation of your story and provides the overall idea or premise for the plot.

Different ways to generate this concept range from brainstorming, drawing from personal experience, combining different concepts and/ or tropes and finally, our favourite, asking "What if?" questions such as:

  • What if a group of teenagers discovered a mysterious island?

  • What if a woman woke up with no memory of her past?

  • What if a small town was plagued by a series of strange murders?

Your concept should be something that excites you and that you're passionate about. It should also be something that has the potential to be explored in depth and from multiple angles.

Step 2: Make Sure Your Concept Has a Hook

Your concept needs to have something that makes it unique and interesting - the hook. Your hook could be a character, a setting, a plot twist, or a combination of those elements; it is what will draw readers in and make them want to keep reading.

To find your hook, ask yourself questions like:

  • What makes my story different from other stories in my genre?

  • What will make readers care about my characters and their journey?

  • What surprising element can I add to my story to make it more interesting?

Step 3: Create a Strong Central Conflict

Conflict is the main problem or challenge that the protagonist faces throughout the story. It is also directly tied to the theme of the story because it is through the resolution of the conflict that the theme is explored.

To developing a central conflict that is both unique and relatable, consider the character's motivations and values to create a conflict that is specific to that character and their journey. You can look for ways to subvert or twist common tropes and storylines to create a conflict that feels fresh and original as well as using contrasting forces, such as good vs. evil, love vs. hate, or freedom vs. oppression, to create a conflict that is both universal and personal.

Step 4: Make Sure Your Conflict Has a Theme

The theme is the underlying message or lesson that the author wants to convey to the reader. It's the universal truth that your characters and plot are exploring. It is tied closely to conflict as it is through the resolution of the conflict in which the theme (or the message) is delivered.

To identify your theme, ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the story really about?

  • What is the message or lesson that I want readers to take away?

  • What universal truths does my story explore?

Your theme should be relevant to your concept and be something your characters can explore in a meaningful way. It doesn't have to be earth shattering, it could be as simple as "love conquers all" (which is often the theme of most romance books).

Once you have your concept, hook, central conflict, and theme, it's time to turn all of that into an outline. It just so happens that next week we will be discussing the different ways you can outline your story depending on your preferences and what the story is calling out for.

If you want to delve more into this topic, head over to our podcast tomorrow to listen to the TWC hosts provide their insight on how they develop their stories. If you become member of our Woolf plan (out in a few weeks) then we will be sharing a workbook to help you develop your story idea over on our discord channel.

About The Writer Community

The Writer Community is a supportive space for writers to connect, learn and grow. So far, we have helped writers grow their confidence, improve their craft and build their writing team with many of our community having now published books both independently and traditionally.

Become a member today for:

  • Access to an exclusive community of writers across the globe

  • Weekly writer discussions in our forums and discord channel

  • New resources every week to help you improve your writing craft and grow your confidence as a writer

  • Weekly writing sprints and Q&As with our community

  • Opportunities to share your work with other writers

  • Exclusive access to writing retreats and workshops (these will be open to members only)

To join, just follow this link.

We can't wait to welcome you to The Writer Community!

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