Apr 24 2008

Five Story Arcs (Central Plot Structures)

Published by at 1:07 am under Story Structure,Writing Articles

This article will help you organize the plotline of your story or novel.

1. Personal Growth. This story focuses on the gradual transformation of the main character.

  • Strengths: readers hate flat (non-changing) characters. Personal growth is usually a coherent and effective way to organize a story.
  • Weaknesses: sometimes this plot-structure is too simple and linear. If the character stumbles occasionally, it will be a bit less predictable.

2. Self-Discovery. This story focuses on the protagonist realizing something about himself and/or his relationships. Its most simple theme is the banal “be yourself!”, but it can handle more complex and dark themes– for example, Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is an excellent story of self-discovery gone wrong.

  • Strengths: this frame lends itself well to character studies. Also, complex self-discovery stories usually create an intimate reader-author connection.

  • Weaknesses: These stories are unusually vulnerable to overwrought, rambling narration. Also, this sort of story relies on an interesting character-voice more than a P.G. story. If your character’s voice isn’t right, this may sound like a sob-story rather than an intriguing character study. Finally, the plot may be too predictable if we know early on what the character will eventually discover about himself (“be yourself!”).

3. Single Goal. This story focuses on a character setting out to accomplish one great goal. For example, the Harry Potter series is about Harry’s quest to avenge his parents by destroying Voldemort. (How disappointing would book seven have been if it had ended without Voldemort dead?)

  • Strengths: usually extremely focused and relatively easy to write. Works particularly well for first-novels.
  • Weaknesses: Usually a predictable ending.

4. Geographic Quest/Journey. These are stories where a geographic journey is either the main character’s overriding objective (Westward, Ho!) or closely linked to the main character’s developmental arc, like any of the many stories about a farmboy trying to make it in The Big City.

  • Strengths: compared to the first three arcs, this one makes better use of the milieu. Geographic motion frequently gives the story a sense of energy and occasionally epicness.
  • Weaknesses: Focusing on the milieu is risky, particularly if your style is conventional and your content is not particularly innovative. For every Grapes of Wrath, you get 100 Eragons.

5. Chronicling an Epic Downfall. This is a story where the narrator is telling a story about another character’s downfall (like Great Gatsby or All The King’s Men). This epic character usually fails because of his own flaws, particularly hubris or blindness.

  • Strengths: Freshness. Parable potential—if you enjoy writing stories with morals, this arc is probably a solid choice. This is one of the few arcs where it’s acceptable to use a minor character as a narrator or point-of-view.
  • Weaknesses: This story has to accomplish something difficult, taking a character that’s usually off-screen and making him both engaging and epically messed-up.

71 responses so far

71 Responses to “Five Story Arcs (Central Plot Structures)”

  1. Flare Bladeon 16 Oct 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Ok, my story is called “Cold Obsession”(this is the second of two comics I’m doing), it fits under the Single Goal Category. Before the actual story begins, an Emperor of Life made two powerful objects. One is the blue pearl that gives its owner the ability to become whatever blood of a species that you obtain or the power they have. The other is the Flute of Life that can resurrect anything that died, but you have to have an object that belonged to them. The Emperor of Life was sealed inside the Blue Pearl by his god for defying his nature. Now, Yukai–

    I didn’t finish I’ll tell you the rest later.

  2. B. Macon 16 Oct 2008 at 2:36 pm

    OK, a few comments.

    1. “One is the blue pearl that gives its owner the ability to become whatever blood of a species that you obtain.” I’m not sure I’m understanding that right. It allows you to become another species’ blood? Or does it allows you to polymorph into a species if you had a sample of its blood?

    2. I’m more concerned about the resurrection ability. In a previous article, we wrote that resurrection is problematic because it will make death and the prospect of death undramatic. If anyone dies, they can just be brought back. This was a huge problem on Dragonball Z.

    3. Is “Blue Pearl” capitalized or not? Your plot blurb used both. I’d recommend keeping it stylistically consistent.

  3. Flare Bladeon 16 Oct 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Response to B. Mac

    1.It allow you to polymorph into a species if you had a sample of its blood…

    2.The Flute of Life is lost in the beginning and will be eventually found, resurrection will only occur once or twice in the comic so death really would be a huge problem in this comic…

  4. B. Macon 16 Oct 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Hmm. The potential for using Claire’s blood to resurrect people on Heroes has been a major problem. Even though it’s only been used twice (on her father and her), merely the prospect of its repeated use will make readers stop caring about physical threats to the characters. If you absolutely want to use a resurrection flute, I would recommend having it destroyed immediately after you no longer need it lying around. Or use some crazy limitation on it, like you have to sacrifice someone else to resurrect the first person.

    You may also find this review of Heroes helpful.

    “Death is meaningless. Wow, Nathan got shot. Am I supposed to care? Am I supposed to be impressed after Claire, Noah, and Sylar all came back to life after apparently dying? This is one of the main reasons I stopped reading comic books. Almost everyone who has died on the show has come back… By constantly killing people and bringing them back, the writers have completely removed any drama from the possibility of death. Death is completely and utterly meaningless and is therefore no cause for concern. They have taken one of the most final and irreversible events in the human condition and made it boring and uninteresting.”

  5. Flare Bladeon 18 Oct 2008 at 5:04 am

    Yukai is a young martial artist that can use wind-based attacks and can use the wind as a projectile.
    He’s forced to help defend his world because species from around the universe have converged on Earth because they believe that’s where the Flute of Life is. Yukai is also accompanied by Shin, who is more experienced in battle than Yukai. He is known as the Cloud Warrior, because he has the ability to turn his body into clouds. Eventually they will meet up with someone who has the Blue Pearl. They will end up fighting him. During that fight, he gets samples of their blood, which he will try to use to create universal chaos.

    That is really the gist of the story, but there is another part I’m considering putting in. In an earlier comment I was talking about one character, the Emperor of Life, and how he was sealed inside the Blue Pearl. What I wanted to do was, at some point in the story, destroy the Blue Pearl and let the Emperor of Life walk upon the earth once again. The Emperor is immortal, so there is no way he could be killed.

    Before I finish telling you this, I should say that I’m religious, so this whole thing may sound a little weird. What I was planning on doing was to have God come out and end the world. But God wouldn’t be the only one to come out it would also be Satan…all evil in the world would go to hell and all good would go to heaven. But since the Emperor is immortal he would have to live in the empty universe alone, without anything to communicate with or anything. That would end my series, but I was planning on making another similar one where the Emperor of Life would then try to defy the rules of the god and bring all evil and good back to the universe, then seal off the heaven and hell so that no species could cross through to them.

    Does that sound good?

  6. Flare Bladeon 18 Oct 2008 at 5:17 am

    at the beginning of my last comment I forgot to say Yukai can use wind type attacks and use wind as a projectile

  7. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 5:54 am

    You guys know my story pretty well, should I drop it and start fresh?

  8. Ragged Boyon 19 Oct 2008 at 10:19 am

    Forget what I asked above, what was I thinking? I’m not going to scrap my story, not after all of the hard work.

  9. B. Macon 19 Oct 2008 at 12:55 pm

    “I’m not going to scrap my story, not after all of the hard work.” Heh, that’s the spirit. Also, I think that your story is fundamentally workable.

    However, I think your story would be easier to work with if either Mz. Corpse or Jornai were retooled, preferably Mz. Corpse. So, right now you have a main character that is kind of like a sci-fi version of Blokhedz, which is pretty neat. Then Jornai seems a little bit like the prince from Escaflowne (which is like a sci-fi version of Eragon). I think he’s very doable, although maybe not entirely stylistically congruent with the hero. However, I suspect that Mz. Corpse’s thematic and plot elements are a lot more somber than the first two. It may distract readers from Sketch.

  10. Flare Bladeon 19 Oct 2008 at 1:02 pm

    A friend and I were working on this story.

    There were three juniors attending a really old high school, up since 1969. They were really close and stayed after school for activities, the normal sort of stuff that teens do. On the night of one of the boy’s 17th birthday, they were looking at the stars and he made a wish to help people that were in danger. There was so much crime in their city that there was hardly ever any peace. After he made the wish, a comet flew past the boys and landed on the school’s football field. They rushed over to see what it was, and when they got there, it was the size of a car tire. They all touched it at the same time, a shockwave sent them flying into the bleachers. They woke up to discover that they have gained superpowers that matched their personalities. After they realized what happened, they decided that they couldn’t let anyone else find out about it or the whole world would be walking around with superpowers. So they took the comet and hid it in the school’s basement, so no one would ever find it. (Who would go into the basement of a school that old? Not even the janitors).

    So they thought it was safe.

    One day, a student at the same high school who already hated two of the boys tried to do something with a girl in the basement. While he was done there, he saw the comet and touched it. The shockwave threw him against one of the storage tanks. The girl ran out and went straight to class without saying anything, because she would have gotten in trouble for skipping. He eventually realizes that he has superpowers and becomes the boys’ archenemy. For the moment, I’m mainly worried about whether this is good, but I’d also like help making a name for it.

  11. B. Macon 23 Oct 2008 at 3:58 am

    I think this is quite good, but I’d recommend a few stylistic changes.

    1. It may feel a bit cheesy that they wish upon a star. First, these characters might be a little bit old for that. It might be possible to come up with something a little bit more sober and perhaps a bit more macabre. For example, let’s say that the story starts with something like a funeral. Maybe one of their classmates died to a drive-by-shooting or gang crossfire or maybe he overdosed on drugs. Having a funeral will establish that this is a bleak world that is badly in need of heroes. Coincidentally, the funeral is held on the main character’s. One of his friends asks him, in a moment of black humor, if he has any birthday wishes. The hero responds that next year he wants to go to a party and not a funeral. When they’re walking home past the school, the comet hits and they come across it and the story progresses as before.

    2. It feels like these characters are chosen ones. The friends just happen to be walking together when they come across the meteor. Lucky break! One way you could make this feel a bit more genuinely random (rather than lucky) is by making the three protagonists strangers (or perhaps casual acquaintances) rather than close friends when they come across the comet… for example, they leave the funeral independently and come to check out the sound of the comet when it hits. That will also give you more flexibility as you develop their relationships after they discover that they have superpowers. It also adds a bit of dramatic uncertainty: could you trust your life fighting alongside someone you hardly know?

    3. It feels a bit contrived that the kid that wanders upon the meteorite already knows a few of the protagonists.

    4. When the archenemy finds the meteorite, what does he do with it? This feels like a good place to tie up a loose end (the meteorite): he destroys it so that no one else can use it.

    5. It may feel a bit cheesy that the heroes develop powers that are based on their personalities. That’s something you might want to give an in-story explanation for. For example, Spiderman 3 handled that pretty smoothly by explaining that the alien parasite amplifies the host’s emotions, so someone that’s already aggressive will become extremely aggressive.

  12. Flarebladeon 19 Nov 2008 at 3:21 pm

    To let you know all names will be changed to American names.

    Yukai is a young martial artist, who will eventually get wind based powers. He’s forced to help defend his world because species from around the universe have converged on Earth because they believe that’s where the Flute of Life is. Yukai is also accompanied by Shin, who is more experienced in battle than Yukai. He is known as the Cloud Warrior, because he has the ability to turn his body into clouds. Eventually they will meet up with someone who has the Blue Pearl. They will end up fighting him. During that fight, he gets samples of their blood, which he will try to use to create universal chaos.

    The owner of the Flute of Life will host a universe-wide tournament. Whichever team of two wins the tournament will win the Flute of Life. Yukai and Shin will win the tournament and go back to Earth, but on the way there they are followed by Oni. Yukai will die on Earth against Oni and his accomplice Fantagi. When Yukai used his final attack he told Shin to leave, which is why Shin wasn’t there to help him. Shin returned to the find Yukai dead, Shin had the Flute of Life, but doesn’t know how to use it, so he had to search and find out how. Upon learning how to use it, Shin brought Yukai back to life. Oni then searches for Shin and finds out that Yukai is alive, but it’s not a concern to him. He attains the Flute of Life from Shin, and unseals the Emperor of Life out of the Blue Pearl. The Blue Pearl and Flute of Life then turn to dust, thus removing the possibility of resurrection.

    After being revived, the Emperor of Life wants to rule the universe and conquers one planet after another. He will return to Earth to conquer it, but Yukai and Shin will try to stop them.

    B. Mac, I would like to ask if you’re more interested in this story or the one with the three high school students.

  13. B. Macon 19 Nov 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Your plot is generally much smoother than I remember, and I suspect it could work as a very basic outline for a novel. However, it would help if you fleshed out the characters a bit more. I don’t feel that I know very much about Yukai or Shin. You might find some of our articles on characterization helpful, particularly this one.

    Either work would have an audience available. Your pitch to readers will probably be something like “It’s like a Dragonball novel!” for this work and “It’s like a Spiderman/Static Shock novel!” for the other. I think that the Spiderman/SS pitch will go farther. Additionally, I think that you would probably find it easier to write and sell the other work because your life experiences will probably provide more inspiration in a story about students in a high school than one about martial artists in a universe-wide tournament of champions.

  14. Psycho Childon 18 Mar 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Anyone on this website could you please read this and tell me what you think about it please….I’m making a comic and I dont have to much but the storyline no title ,no character names,just the storyline….

    O.k it’s starts out with there homeless children,one around the age of eight and the othee two around the age 6.Two of the homeless kids are related(the oldest and one of the six year olds) and the other is a friend of the youngest.Well these kids have a hard time living and the usually have to steal to get anything(food,toys,etc.) and the seen these people(dressed in tux,nice shoes, very wealthy looking)and one had a suit case and it was on the ground.The oldest boy ran over with out thinking and grabbed the suit case and ran.The siblings ran after him with out hesitation.One of the men in the suits chased them down and caught them very easly.
    The man asked for the suit case very nicely and the boys refused.The man then streched his arm out completly into the air and opened his hand.He shouted out “Power skill 31: Moon beam”.Once he yeld that a beam shot from his hand into the sky(beam was a shiny blue color).The boys were trembling in fear and the oldest immediatly threw the suit case back to the man.He saw that they’ve never seen anything like that in their lives.The man said “If you want to stop living like animals come with me.Stealing to get what you need or want is not the way you go about things,but that is the way you found me isn’t it.The boys followed the man and got into a limozine with him and drove away.
    First the man took them under his arm and taught them the art of Power Binding. “Every human in this world has something in the called a Power Chain.The Power Chain allows them to use the Power Binding.A Power chain can be “Faded” or”Broken” in certain areas of the body.Fading is when the Power Chain temperally vanishes.Which ever part of the body the the Power Chain has faded from the user wont be able to Power Bind from the part.For example if the Power Chain in my arm had Faded then I wouldn’t be able to shoot that beam that I had shot before.It is only temporarally though.The way Power Chain can fade is by Power Binding frequantly.If I were to shoot 12 of those beams from earlyer my Power Chain would Fade and I wouldn’t be able to Power Bind from my arm.Now if a Power Chain is Broken that means that you wont be able to Power Bind from that area permenatly. So what I’m going to do is to teach you how to fight first of all then I will teach all three of you your own Power Binding moves”.
    Eleven years later the boys had grown to a great level of Power Binding.The man gave the boys $5,000 a piece and then gave them tickets to the “Cappa XII:School of Binding and Etching”.Etching is almost like like Power Binding but the techniques learned from Etching are that persons and that persons alone.Meaning when some can each person in the world who can Etch has their own techniques and sometimes if you are related to person who can Etch you’d have similar techniques to that person.The boys try out for the school and get in.They buy their school unitforms and dorm rooms with the money from thier trainer.When they get in the oldest boy is given the Omega rank,and the younger boys are given the Alpha rank.The youngest boys share dorms at the Alpha house while the older boy is living with the higher ranks in the Omega dorm….

    that’s all I have and it’s pretty good….

  15. Ragged Boyon 18 Mar 2009 at 6:22 pm

    “that’s all I have and it’s pretty good….”

    A little confident aren’t we. 😎

    Hello Psycho Child, welcome to Superhero Nation, I’m Ragged Boy.

    Here are my initial thoughts. MY main concern is the eleven year time skip in the story. Generally, large time skips are not very effective in a story and subtract from the immersion into the story. I think that the whole homeless boys stealing the bag from the man and him adopting them can be handled as backstory.

    Flashbacking is more acceptable in comic books than novels, so I think you can start the story with the boys a few days before they leave for Cappa 12. This way you would have time to show the boys in actions early on and develop their personalities. Then at one point you could have them tell (briefly, musing is generally uneffective) about how they met Mr. So-and-So. After all, it’s not very important as to how they meet, it’s after that, that matters.

    I suspect that getting into the school and advancing through the ranks will be a generally long part of the story, unless they happen across some amazingly powerful hidden potential, but I adamantly recommend against that. So I recommend you pace yourself so that you don’t get overwhelmed with story progression later.

    What do you think?

  16. Ragged Boyon 18 Mar 2009 at 6:28 pm

    I do like your concept of Power Binding, as opposed to something general and generic like Magic. Although it’s essentially the chi system of internal energy, I like your tweak on it.

  17. Psycho Childon 18 Mar 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I agree with you 100%. I was kinda thinking that 11 years was too long, but I just wrote what I had made so far. Thanks for the assistance.

  18. Ragged Boyon 18 Mar 2009 at 7:45 pm

    You’re welcome! If you need any more assistance, just holler.

  19. Psycho Childon 18 Mar 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Now that you say that I could use help making a title for the story,character names I have no problem with.But it’s just the type of story that I’m making that makes it so hard for me to make a name for it.

  20. B. Macon 18 Mar 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Ok, hmm. Here are some thoughts and observations.

    –The grammar and spelling are very rough.

    –The protagonists are very young. Typically, the heroes of a story are a few years older than the readers, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Who’s your audience, and why will they want to read about an 8-year-old and 6-year-olds? (I know that the story soon moves forward in time, but I get the impression that the first page will seem like it’s about these really young characters).

    –Having the man shout “power skill 31: moon beam” sounds a bit cheesy to me.

    –The capitalization is irregular. For example, sometimes Power Chain is capitalized and sometimes it isn’t. I’d recommend uncapitalizing it because it looks better that way. (Depending on your comic book’s lettering, all the letters will probably be capitalized anyway, so this will probably only come up in the synopsis).

    –The plot sounds workable. With a bit of flavor, it could be very interesting.

    –The characters strike me as a bit bland. What are their personalities like?

  21. Psycho Childon 19 Mar 2009 at 6:34 pm

    O.k. The part were you were saying they were young It wont be all like starting the comic at the age of eight, it’ll start with the oldest at 19 and the others at 17 and then I’ll make a flash back showing how they meet the man who adopted them.

    Then with the “Power Skill 31” thing there are a lot of power skills I say like 1 to 2000 or something and it’ll be hard for people to know what it what and the name.

    The capitailzation thiing I really can work on but anything else that you think I should work on please tell me if so,and I will be posting the character Bio’s pretty soon so please look out for that…

    and thanks for the review

  22. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 12:16 pm


    My story has many different structures:

    Main Goal: Defeat Scarlet (duh)

    Personal Growth: Everyone gets a little of this

    Meg: Realizes that Connor can take care of himself, learns to think before she acts.

    Ian: Becomes much less superficial, and learns not to judge based on appearances.

    Connor: Becomes much more mature, and learns to fight for himself. (self-discovery)

    Darren: His insecurity issues begin to be resolved.

    Jazz: Learns to trust people a little more, and finds out who she really wants to be (self-discovery)

    Pierce: Finds out what there is to live for.


    – Wings

  23. Asayaon 28 Apr 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Well, I’m usually a lot better in stories that include character development, I’m a little weaker in put together all the events that are around character development.

    And self-discovery is a little harder for me. It’s a bit difficult to avoid using the whole ‘be yourself’ thing. But then again, Personal Growth and Self-Discovery are pretty much related.

  24. C. S. Marloweon 08 May 2009 at 1:34 pm

    (thoughtful) Mine is a mixture of 1, 3, and 4. My characters are trying to bring about the end of an empire while experiencing personal growth and they end up travelling to different parts of the world to do it. Yay. I threw everything in the ideas pot.

  25. B. Macon 08 May 2009 at 2:15 pm

    “And self-discovery is a little harder for me. It’s a bit difficult to avoid using the whole ‘be yourself’ thing.” If you want to do a “be yourself” story, it would probably make the story fresher if the character wants to do something that the audience is initially opposed to. For example, maybe the character is a high school senior that decides not to go to college. The story will be much more immersive if we sympathize with the people that are telling him that being himself isn’t good enough. If the character’s story can convince us that he really should be himself, it will be much more impressive.

  26. Bretton 19 May 2009 at 5:02 pm

    To Psycho Child (late):

    1. Interesting concept. Great place to start. I’d like to see some elaboration on the difference between binding/etching worked into the story though.

    2. I have personally discovered that things go smoother when characters don’t announce a move to the general public before performing it. (I don’t care what they do in Dragonball. XD) Try it. Unless there’s an instory reason he has to say “power skill #X blah blah blah. This might be in above posts, but I skipped over them.

    3. I’d like more background on these boys. Its great that they get into this by doing something and aren’t just “chosen”, but randomly stealing a briefcase is not enough. Maybe if they were more clever, thus demonstrating their worthiness. Like playing a sort of “keep away” with the briefcase until the guy has to use his powers or something.

    4. The limousine is a bit much in my opinion.

    5. Whats level Omega?

    Overall, good start. Some of what i said is probably redundant with above, but w/e.

  27. Jennyon 24 Jun 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Hey everyone. I’m having trouble thinking up a plot for my story and ideas would be appreciated. So far, this is what I have—

    Who- Iluna (girl elf) and ???? (guy elf) need name

    What- some kind of adventure plot, a reason they would need to leave home

    Where- everywhere plus a destination (ie. lord of the rings they go to a whole bunch of places on their way to mordor) (names would be nice)

    When- medieval times (lord of the rings, the hobbit…)

    Why- why would they need to go to the destination (ie. kidnapping, bad guy..)

    ** -this story is like lord of the rings
    – my elves are immortal
    – they go everywhere on horseback
    – i need a villain name and motive

    Thanks for all your help!

  28. B. Macon 24 Jun 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Hello, Jenny. Welcome to Superhero Nation.

    It seems like the plot is a bit thin so far. If I made a suggestion at this point, it would probably look more like the kind of fantasy story I’d want to write than the one you would.

    However, perhaps I can offer some basic ideas that you can develop in a way that fits your style better.

    –The main characters are getting married. (Perhaps elven custom dictates that fiancees must journey to a particular far-away destination to prove their commitment and love before they can be wed). The villain cannot allow the marriage to happen. (Why not? Maybe for political or inheritance reasons). For the main development arc, I’d recommend having the two heroes start out as not particularly close but grow together as the journey gets dangerous.

    –Iluna is an elf with a rare and mostly unimpressive ability. As a result, her kingdom chooses her to carry out a dangerous and undesirable mission. For example, if she were a really gifted artist, the kingdom might send her off as a surveyor to map out new lands. The male elf is a bodyguard or warrior that is incurably enthusiastic. (If you’re interested, a romantic side-plot would fit into this pretty nicely). Together, the two stumble upon the villain’s plot to attack the kingdom.

    –Iluna is a strikingly inept poet that comes from a family renowned for poetic talent. Instead, she is decidedly better at [something else]. Her parents are sick of her awful poetry, so they give her an ultimatum: if she can’t accomplish some particular feat of poetry by her next birthday, they’re going to disown her.

    Please be careful with the LOTR angle. Publishers see a lot of LOTR-esque stories, so please work very hard to make your story feel fresh.

  29. Jennyon 03 Jul 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks B. Mac I think I’ve got a good idea on how my plot will work.

  30. StarEon 08 Sep 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Hello! Does this sound like an okay story premise? I wrote it quite awhile ago, but I would like to rewrite it someday if I could get it to run smoother… 🙂 The first version was really messy, and I’ve been trying really hard to fix everything.

    The main character, Rem, is a tough, misguided tomboyish girl from a small country town. When she and her cousin Corey get into serious trouble for breaking and entering, they get arrested and shipped off to serve in the country’s aggressive militia. This is an otherworldly military where, instead of sitting around in a jail cell for five years, you go and fight wars for the madman ruling the area.

    Though Rem and Corey were troublemakers, they’d never killed anyone before, so Rem freaks out about her first “victory” and tries to escape from the forced-militia with her cousin. But guard-soldiers run them off the road, and Rem rolls the Jeep she was driving straight off a cliff into the ocean. As the Jeep fills with water, Rem panics because Corey was knocked unconscious in the crash and they’re sinking. She can’t get them out, and some disembodied voice asks if she wants to save her cousin’s life, and her own. Since she has no choice, she agrees to it, and the voice says that she must swear fealty to a whole new militia…

    Okay, in the original version of the story, this is where Rem and Corey lose their memories and start living a “Second Life”, which was the working-title for this story… But after spending some time with Rem and Corey, do you think it’s bad to erase all that? Maybe I could make the story work without anybody losing memories. What do you guys think…?

    Anyways, Rem and Corey wake up in an Artificial Intelligence controlled army called “Five Star Defense”. Everyone in the training barracks (the “Combs”) seems to have lost their memories, and instead, they now have element-based superpowers. Rem can summon water and Corey can summon fire. (I think maybe I should change to new powers… The elemental types might not be very interesting for this sort of sci-fi/fantasy story)

    Before Rem, Corey, and the other amnesia-stricken strangers can go through proper orientation from the ServiceBots (who work with the soldiers on behalf of an Artificial Intelligence system called the COMs), they’re attacked by an enemy platoon of mindless robots and our protagonists are nearly killed.

    They’re narrowly rescued by a serious, wind-controlling man named Naveed. He’s also a member of “Five Star Defense”, and he brings them back to the main base, which is a massive building perched on a humungous metal plate in the sky… Rem and Corey realize that this is a bleak, destroyed world with very little life left in it, and no more humans aside from those who have been drafted into “Five Star Defense”. There are huge, abandonned cities perched on metal plates, and Five Star is constantly brawling with the enemy robots to “reclaim the Plate Cities”… Except that it’s been a thousand years by now, and the battle is never-ending. The scientists who designed the “Five Star Defense A.I. System” were long killed in the wars, and the A.I./COMs now collect new human soldiers from other dimensions, using warp-tunnels that are locked by impossibly long strands of code…

    The storyline involves Naveed trying to train Rem and Corey because they didn’t recieve any formal power-training during their ruined orientation. They have to learn FAST, because they keep getting thrown into battle. Certain members of “Five Star Defense” are glitched, meaning they’ve gotten some kind of psychic powers along with their elemental powers. Naveed has these extra powers, which enable him to store data in his mind like a computer processor, but he has to “encode” it and memorize it slowly. Rem has the extra glitch too, which causes her to learn things quickly. Two other characters with these glitches are Vanessa (Naveed’s emotionally fragile fighting partner/pilot/old flame) and Kain (Naveed’s unstable but strangely charming ex-best friend/rival), but Corey doesn’t have these powers and Rem has to keep it a secret from him in spite of the strong trust between the two. She can’t tell him because people who don’t have the psychic glitch are fully-controlled by the A.I./COMs during battle. Their minds are accessible to the COMs, so if Corey knew about the powers (and Rem/Naveed/Vanessa/Kain’s conversations with them), it would be a serious liability.

    So the story is filled with humans vs. sentient/non-sentient robots in a destroyed futuristic world. The plot is filled out with Rem and Corey learning about their powers as well as exploring the abandonned plate cities with Naveed and Vanessa. Although Naveed is very serious and a little dark, he has a strong fondness of the destroyed “artifacts”, especially the old tattered books that tell of worlds beyond this hell. There’s a glimmer of hope in Naveed’s psychic skill because he’s slowly memorizing the long codes that will let the group pass through the wormholes into another world, but between violent chaos, Kain’s interventions, and the very painful way that Naveed has to collect the data strands, it’s going to be a very hard road for everyone in their struggle to survive and escape to some paradise beyond this world.

    That’s the basic idea behind the whole thing… The story I wrote was actually pretty messy, so this is the best I’ve got so far. If you managed to read or skim this message, I really appreciate it. Thank you!

  31. Jennyon 24 Oct 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Hey everyone. I have most of my plot down but I’m just missing a chunk about my villain. My story is set in the old-times (ie. hunting for food, swords, bow and arrows, swords, royal family etc…) My villain is going to try and take over the kingdom but I need a motive for him. Any ideas are greatly appreciated!

  32. Jennyon 30 Oct 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I don’t mean to be a nuisance, but it would be really great if I could get some help with my story. Thanks 🙂

  33. B. Macon 31 Oct 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Okay, umm, maybe the kingdom owns something he wants, or the kingdom is standing in the way of something he wants, or the kingdom contains something he wants, etc. Or revenge. Or because he has a political disagreement with the current leaders.

    Owns something he wants
    –A magical artifact?
    –A particular treasure?
    –A scroll?
    –Vast wealth? (Careful– this will probably be banal).

    Standing in the way of something he wants
    –The current rulers are preventing him from accomplishing a particular nefarious political goal. (Establishing a particular religion, eliminating a particular group of people, returning his clan or tribe to power, fomenting a war between two countries, etc).

    Contains something he wants
    –A particular site of magical importance (such as an altar, temple or mountain where a ritual MUST be performed… to accomplish what?)
    –A critical material, such as an ore or magical gem (needed to accomplish what?)
    –A site of unusual strategic or magical or political significance, either to himself or a third party. (What’s he trying to do and why? If there’s a third party, why is he interested in helping them?)

  34. JMelloulon 08 Aug 2011 at 4:26 am

    I was looking back over this article and I really like it. Just wanted to say.

  35. JTheGreaton 12 Dec 2011 at 8:15 pm

    What’s your guys’ opinion on the “epic hero” story structure (call to adventure, belly of the whale, resurrection)? It’s a very rounded plot, but it’s been done on virtually every other story ever. I have a general concept down and all my characters… characterized (XD), but my grasp on my plot is very loose right now. I’ve been using the epic hero structure as a guide, but I’m wondering if I should just throw that out and go with the flow. If it helps any, my concept is about an English exchange student in America who finds out that he’s really a famous superhero who lost his memory, and the company who genetically manufactured him is now corrupt, and start noticing his little acts of vigilantism, so they devise a “superhero showdown” (the company runs off of merchandise and publicity) to smoke him out.

  36. B. McKenzieon 12 Dec 2011 at 8:33 pm

    If the structure is executed in an original way, I don’t think readers will notice that other plots are structured in a similar way.

    That said, one convention of superhero stories that comes to mind is that the superhero almost always gets more powerful/competent/skilled as the story goes on. What if the superhero’s clock is running out and he’s trying to save the day before time expires? (For example, the accident that gave him his powers might have only been temporary, or he’s dying of an unavoidable affliction/disease/poisoning, etc). Of those, the one that would be easiest to work into your story would probably be the temporary powers one–he’s already a famous superhero, so he’s had powers for a while. Maybe those powers are beginning to recede in ominous ways and he knows he only has so much time.

    The company might have deliberately rigged the experiment so that he’d only have powers for so long, maybe to cover themselves if he got in the way and/or because the original scientist was a nice guy and wanted to make sure that the superhuman abilities would not end up consuming the body.

    Plot question: if a company has the ability to manufacture superpowers, why does it need to stage publicity stunts and/or criminal acts to get money? (Is there some reason they’ve passed on the more direct approach, selling superpowers for money?)

  37. JTheGreaton 12 Dec 2011 at 8:58 pm

    They can’t exactly “sell superpowers” since the subjects have to be altered very early in life, and it’s very invasive and risky. I think the “race against the clock” concept will work, because of the danger of the artificial powers (the more they are used, the more deteriorating they are on the body, which is why they need constant “reboots”). Thanks :D!

  38. Yuuki12on 24 Dec 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Greetings, everyone, I have an idea for a story, I wish to write upon the completion of the story I am currently working on. However, I will admit I am very much lost in regards to style and the overall themes. Though for the latter part, I do have an idea, but I don’t know if it is good enough.

    “It is the year 2013 when earth is paid a visit by a group of individuals. Hailing from another dimension, the group claimed to be explorers, whom wanted nothing more to make peace. Of course this is an outright lie, as the group’s true goal is to conquer earth and subjugate humans.

    It is during the midst of this invasion that a young college student is caught in the fray. Having inherited a mysterious power, he’s greeted by a small group of travelers whom are also from the same dimension as the invaders. But the goal of this group is to defeat the invaders, while they are on earth. Thus, he joins them.”

    I understand this is a long, winded synopsis, but allow me to elaborate. The group of invaders, rather than being a group of aliens, are in fact a group of elves. These individuals possess technology which is fueled by magic.

    I am well aware this is a weird premise, but I am fascinated by the idea of the world of fantasy(with technology) mixing with the real world. Now, I know by all accounts this isn’t exactly original, as they are plenty of books which detail the scenario.

    However, I hopefully have some themes which might add a different spin.For one thing, the reason why these elves wanted to invade was due to the fact they were after something.

    Of course I will not spoil what is it they are after, but in many ways the item can be likened to something that humans, if given the chance, would also go after. And that’s why I wish to emphasize. That these elves in many way are like humans, in that when given the opportunity they shall exploit something for personal gain, they will do so.

    That’s one theme I have, and I am looking for any other suggestions or tips.

    In regards to plot arcs, this of course lends itself to the idea of an Epic Journey. While one could say it is original in the sense it is a mixed fantasy,technology set in modern day, I understand that even so, the typical aspects of this plot style can be exploited.

    However, while of course drawing from the typical aspects, I do have one original idea: the notion of chaos. This journey is taking place when there is a planetary invasion. I emphasize this, because I wish this to be the protagonists’ biggest conflict.

    With all the fear and uncertainty going around, maybe humans will not embrace these travelers. What if they try to kill them? Work against them? I also want this to affect the main character, as well.

    Not in the sense that’s he’s shock or stunned. Rather, what if these reactions made him doubt whether humans do deserve to be saved, or whether they will change.

    Again, these are ideas I have come up with. I understand this story is very rudimentary at the moment, and such I could use some tips and suggestions to get the narrative more coherent.

  39. Karmaon 25 Dec 2012 at 7:43 am

    A very good example of blending fantasy with sci-fi is Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl!

    Even i like the same idea!
    I have done something similar in my story too…^_^

  40. Thalamuson 27 Jul 2013 at 8:58 am

    I am unsure which category the plot I am working on falls under. It has a fairly straightforward goal at the start – essentially, stop these guys from killing those guys – but one which becomes less straightforward for the protagonists as the story goes on – stop this guy from saving all those other guys (I do have names for these characters, but those are the fundamentals). In that sense, the story falls under Single Goal, but I also want the novel to focus on the development of the characters – is it okay to try to put in both? Should I focus on one of the two aspects over the others? If so, which one?

  41. B. McKenzieon 27 Jul 2013 at 9:41 pm

    “In that sense, the story falls under Single Goal, but I also want the novel to focus on the development of the characters – is it okay to put in both?” I don’t see a contradiction here. While characters are going about contributing to or undermining the main goal (e.g. stopping Voldemort), you can and should develop the characters. I’d sort of recommend focusing on developing characters with scenes which are at least vaguely related to the main goal (rather than with, say, highly tangential flashbacks or irrelevant side-arcs), but that’s a matter of execution rather than THIS CANNOT WORK.

  42. Neilon 08 Jan 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I am having trouble organizing my story in terms of plot structure. Here is the synopsis:

    “After being adopted and is taken to a beach town in California, life should be good for Kyle. Upon a boating accident, Kyle finds himself on an isolated island; where upon going through a half underwater temple, gains mystical aquatic abilities. It is here he discovers a conspiracy to which the whole world is in danger”

    I apologize if the summary is disjointed, but that is what I have. I see this as a personal growth story, given the character was raised at an orphanage for most of his life, and adjusting to normal life, but at the same time would self-discovery be more appropriate.

    The reason why I ask is because the story is an aquatic -based one, where the character has many facets, being a teen, serving the oceans, and the civilizations that live under. And that might lead to something good.

    Finally, the aspect I wish to discuss is the possible theme. I kind of want to incorporate a save the environment theme. I understand most people are sick of this theme, as it most of them are poorly executed.

    One of the reasons is because the characterization of the humans, who are usually one-dimensional. What sorts of things can I do to make this theme at least viable. On a side note, one of the reasons why I liked Princess Monoke was that the human characters were complex enough that one understood their motivations for what they did.

    I do not believe I can match the talent of Miyazaki, but I am inspired to try to put a spin on this time old theme.

  43. Kevin Holsingeron 09 Jan 2014 at 6:50 am

    Good morning, Neil.

    “One of the reasons is because the characterization of the humans, who are usually one-dimensional. What sorts of things can I do to make this theme at least viable.”

    First idea that comes to mind: one reason we humans act so unhealthily towards the environment is that nobody’s powerful enough to stop us. This isn’t “The Happening”, where the trees are going to try and kill us with spores. Nor is is “Princess Mononoke”, where we have a Great Forest Spirit ready and willing to slaughter us all if we cut off its head.

    So what happens to a species like humanity when we don’t have a parent to discipline us? Absolute freedom ends up corrupting just as much as absolute power would.

    Tying this into your story:

    1. the anti-environmentalists could be corrupted by a freedom they lack the strength to resist (One Ring of Power from “Lord of the Rings”), making them more sympathetic
    2. the pro-environmentalists are uncorrupted not because of how wonderful they are, but because they’ve never been tempted by absolute freedom, making them less sympathetic

    Hope that helps. If not, perhaps we’ll try later.

    Enjoy your day.

  44. Neilon 11 Jan 2014 at 10:29 am

    @ Kevin Holsinger

    Thank you for the advice. One idea that was sparked from your input is as follows. Suppose, there is a group of pro-environmentalists. However, they are moderate, and not radical. However, they are being manipulated.

    The reason being the main villian is a Piscian( a race of half-human half fish, to which the main character is affiliated with. This villain is attempting to destroy Atlantis, along with the surface world.

    Given there is a major oil corporation involved, she reveals herself to the environmentalists, claiming the Oil corporation is doing immense damage to her world,and that they need to wipe out their systems. Unaware, that the group is in fact helping her construct a device that will take out not only Atlantis, but the surface world.

    How is that for a villain? I want them to being sympathetic, but at the same time misled, and willing to do whatever it took.

  45. Kevin Holsingeron 12 Jan 2014 at 6:06 am

    Morning again, Neil.

    On the one hand, the pro-environmentalists being manipulated is a good way to make them less than idealized (and one I hadn’t thought of). On the other hand, while I have no problems with the apocalyptic Piscian, have you figured out a way of not making her black-and-white evil, given the scale of threat she represents? Or is more the environmentalists and the oil corporation whose morality you want to blur a little?

    Enjoy your day.

  46. --ImaDreamer--on 11 Feb 2014 at 6:32 pm

    No names for the characters yet.
    Please make a review on my plot.

    The Main Hero is a shy nerd nobody really notices him in class except for his best friend.
    One day coming back home from the library at night, he sees is best friend getting pushed into an alley by the school bully and his group.
    The Main Hero was thinking about helping his best friend but he looked at his arms but don’t feel any strength in him.
    After thinking about it The Main Hero just runs off Home the bullies heard the hero running they ran after the main hero
    but dint bother to keep on the chase and went back home.
    The Main Hero dint stop running until he got home he ran up to his room and closed the door,
    he thought about what he did to his best friend leaving him to get beat up by the bullies and he says to himself
    he’s a coward and while he was saying that he saw his superheroes wallpapers all over his room and thought that he could
    of been a Superhero but he dint have any Superpower’s and then he saw a wallpaper of Batman a Superhero without
    Superpowers and his thought of being a Superhero came back and he thought he could of help and protect his best friend
    from the bully and his group without powers.

    Main Hero and Main Villain Meet:
    The Main Villain meets The Main Hero while
    on a job. The Villain copies The Hero costume and attributes to help
    him out and gain respect , but The Main Hero dint need help so right after dealing with the job and daving The Main Villain multiple times, The Hero tells The Villain that
    he dint need a sidekick,The Main Villain gets mad and targets The Hero as an enemy.
    but both Of them dont know that they tre best friends behind the mask.

  47. breadon 13 Feb 2014 at 7:55 am

    hello 🙂 could yall please make a review on my plot? it s just a brief overview cos i dont wanna bore you guys too much, i have more stuff worked out but this is just the basic picture.

    Flawed lives. Ordinary people. Extraordinary abilities. Eight youths living mundane, yet unfulfilling lives are recruited by a secret military organisation for a one-off assignment which could save the world. With only a month to prepare, this diverse group of individuals are forced to be the best of themselves like never before. However, they soon discover that this assignment itself is not entirely what it seems. – lol, still needs some work but yup this is it.

    i plan to write this in a combination of third person omniscient and first person, the former being only in the first few introductory chapters. Each chapter following will be told from different people’s perspectives. I’ve been told it s pretty messy this way, but to me it s meant to be a real character-focused piece so the first person would be more engaging perhaps ? do give me some feedback please! thanks for all the help again 🙂

  48. B. McKenzieon 13 Feb 2014 at 11:44 pm

    “Eight youths living mundane, yet unfulfilling lives are recruited by a secret military organisation for a one-off assignment which could save the world. With only a month to prepare…” I’m sort of liking the premise here, although I think cutting the team down from 8 would probably help you buy space for character development. In general, a smaller cast of more-developed characters tends to be more memorable than a larger cast of less-developed characters.

    “I plan to write this in a combination of third person omniscient and first person, the former being only in the first few introductory chapters. Each chapter following will be told from different people’s perspectives. I’ve been told it s pretty messy this way, but to me it s meant to be a real character-focused piece so the first person would be more engaging perhaps? Do give me some feedback please!” First, I think a switch from 3rd person to 1st person would likely be pretty disorienting. If the 3rd person narration is not a major part of the book, would it be possible to tell those chapters in the 1st person? Second, I’d be really careful about taking on 3+ POV characters. If readers actually grow to like one character, they may not respond well when the POV shifts to another character. In general, I think 3 POVs is the point at which readers are really going to feel distracted from the character(s) they find most interesting. E.g. “JESUS CHRIST NOT ANOTHER CHAPTER WITH [INSERT POV #4]”

    “they soon discover that this assignment itself is not entirely what it seems.” Yeah… if a secret military organization randomly recruits 8 youths with only a month of training, it probably wasn’t a routine mission. Also, in this context, I’m guessing the organization is more concerned about success than about the protagonists’ survival. (“One-off” brings “disposable” to mind).

  49. Proxie#0on 14 Feb 2014 at 1:41 am

    In terms of having multiple character POV’s, I would lean towards advising you take a look at the series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It’s been turned into a fairly successful television show, and the book series had upwards of five or six pov characters per book…and those changed between books as well.

    Now, on this same note, as B Mac says, you need to really think of which characters you want to have be there, and then figure out if every character needs to be a POV character. Sometimes one is enough, and though you may want the audience to know everything that happens for everyone, it is better to give a little.

    For example, in ASIF, there are several characters that are important, central to the plot even, but you do not see them as a POV character, and are described by their actions to the POV characters, as well as others.

    One other thing to look out for when having more than two or three pov’s. Try to avoid making one pov characters story more or less interesting than the others. Yes, events will transpire that may seem more or less interesting, but if you present them in a boring way or have them shown to readers by a character that they don’t necessarily not like, but are more bored with or annoyed by, then they may decide it is not worth reading. I know, so far as the people I’ve spoken to, that for the most part (in ASIF), it was a drag to read through certain characters stories. I remember Catelyn Tully/Stark was usually mentioned, though I personally enjoyed her.

    At any rate, make sure that your characters POV’s are necessary, interesting, and present something more than what the other characters already know or are experiencing.

  50. B. McKenzieon 14 Feb 2014 at 7:14 am

    “In terms of having multiple character POV’s, I would lean towards advising you take a look at the series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” It’s been turned into a fairly successful television show, and the book series had upwards of five or six pov characters per book…and those changed between books as well.” Ah, that’s fair, though I believe having many POVs would be a lot harder to pull off effectively for an unpublished author than it would be for someone with decades of experience (e.g. George R. R. Martin). I’d also recommend checking out Wild Cards (a superhero series with 10+ POV characters edited by George Martin).

  51. Anonymouson 14 Feb 2014 at 7:53 am

    @B. McKenzie/Proxie #0

    Sorry, do you mind if i reply both of you at once because the feedback is mostly about the same stuff? Thanks for the great advice!

    “cutting the team down from 8 would probably help you buy space for character development” i think that s a great idea haha. i’ve cut it down to 6 for now..?
    “First, I think a switch from 3rd person to 1st person would likely be pretty disorienting. If the 3rd person narration is not a major part of the book, would it be possible to tell those chapters in the 1st person?” i get what you re saying here, how about if i do a prologue in 3rd person to just explain how they’re recruited, and then follow up 1st person from there ? is that workable? 🙂
    “Second, I’d be really careful about taking on 3+ POV characters. If readers actually grow to like one character, they may not respond well when the POV shifts to another character”. ahah yeahh i get how that can happen, i guess i ll try to be as fair as i can? and yup definitely will go check out ‘Wild Cards’ and ASIF. they sound really cool haha. and i m not really THAT serious ? just writing it for fun cos i like having something to daydream about LOL.

    “Yeah… if a secret military organization randomly recruits 8 youths with only a month of training, it probably wasn’t a routine mission. Also, in this context, I’m guessing the organization is more concerned about success than about the protagonists’ survival. (“One-off” brings “disposable” to mind)” my bad, it wa pretty bad synopsis. what actually happens is that these guys r recruited *because* they have abilities (which they dont know about yet, most of them anyway) as they stand the most chance of stopping the previous batch of superhumans who rebelled against the organisation. does that kind of make more sense ? oh and as for the assignment not being what it seems i have this plotline where they find out that the escaped superhumans previously arent actually the ‘bad guys’, they re trying to stop the organisation from continuing the program because their powers aren’t natural but injected into them by a formula which will kills 9 out of 10 people affected.

  52. breadon 14 Feb 2014 at 8:54 am

    lol. the above comment s mine btw. sorry. oh yea one more addition, it turns out that those kids were chosen not cos’ of their secret genetic potential but cos’ they’re people that dont matter/are unimportant to society as a whole. also could i get your opinions of my characters n their abilities? thanks for all the help, really appreciate it!

    1) Charlie- a shy, quiet boy who s always overlooked by people and has an overall passive outlook on life. He is constantly searching for the approval and acknowledgment from others. He agrees to be recruited as it is his chance to be somebody useful. He gains the ability of Empathy and learns he is able to copy others’ abilities when he feels emotionally connected to them.

    2) Sarah- the disturbed daughter of a womanizing English tycoon who is antisocial and suicidal. she chooses to drown her sorrow in drink so that she can maintain the facade of a good daughter so that she can take over the business and not disappoint her late mother. She agrees readily because she is tired of forcing herself to meet the expectations of the world. She gains the ability of TBC. not reallyyyy sure yet.

    3) Jake-a frail and bullied boy who is very frustrated because of his fear of fighting back, and deeply desires to become strong to take revenge on the people who take advantage of him. He is enticed to join the organisation because he sees it as a chance to enhance himself and become better than others. He gains the ability of Reactive Adaptation when he feels weak and threatened but dares to fight back.

    4) Michael-an arrogant, glib talking individual who initially terrorizes the recruits (there s an idea for this but havent rly fleshed it out yet) but it is revealed that he only did so in order to prove his worth so he could join the team. he was encouraged to ‘audition’ by the Head of the organisation. his background is pretty mysterious and he has the ability of Hypnotic Suggestion and carries a pendulum around to help him out.

    5)Chris- a confident and charming boy, he is very likable and a natural leader. Although he can be quite offensive and immature at times, he is shown to be a very good guy at heart who strives to make the world a better place in whatever way he can. He is the estranged son of a top military General, and it is revealed that it was so because he had previously lost a leg due to a freak accident and his father refused to see him. His ability is Regenerative Healing Factor. He already possesses the ability at the beginning of the book and it s more or less passive so I dont plan to elaborate on how he forces it out of himself.

    6)Victoria (i think)- havent fleshed out her character completely yet, but she has the ability of Precognition cos it will be her who ‘saves’ the team from Michael as she saw it in a vision.

    Thanks for everything guys 😉

  53. Neilon 14 Feb 2014 at 6:30 pm

    @ Kevin Holsinger

    First off, I wish to apologize for the delay. I have been busy with school. In terms of my villain, she is a Nereid, a sea nymph, who hates humanity. Specifically, because humans had killed her lover. But more importantly, the reason why is because she wishes to save Atlantis.

    As a Nereid, she has precognitive abilities. She foresaw a future in which Atlantis and the surface world would clash. In spite of Atlantis dominating against the surface world, humans would create Leviathan: a genetically constructed monster to combat. This monster would force Atlantis to create Oceanus, another genetically constructed monster to combat. Unfortunately, both sides would loose control of their behemoths, which would destroy both sides and the rest of the planet.

    She wishes to stop this. As such, she believes the only way is for the surface world to be annihilated. She does this by appearing before the group, claiming that the surface world’s actions are destroying her home, and that she has a solution to generate alternative energy.

    The group believes her, unquestionably, but this is a farce, as they attack the Oil company, stealing parts to build a massive machine to which will cause ocean levels to rise to catastrophic levels, flooding the entire world.

    All in all, how is that?

  54. B. McKenzieon 15 Feb 2014 at 6:09 pm

    “In terms of my villain, she is a Nereid, a sea nymph, who hates humanity. Specifically, because humans had killed her lover. But more importantly, the reason why is because she wishes to save Atlantis.
    As a Nereid, she has precognitive abilities. She foresaw a future in which Atlantis and the surface world would clash. In spite of Atlantis dominating against the surface world, humans would create Leviathan: a genetically constructed monster to combat. This monster would force Atlantis to create Oceanus, another genetically constructed monster to combat. Unfortunately, both sides would loose control of their behemoths, which would destroy both sides and the rest of the planet.” Is the death of her loved one necessary? I think the precognition is sufficient.

  55. Kevin Holsingeron 17 Feb 2014 at 4:09 am

    Good morning, Neil.

    As long as the Piscian makes sure that her method of wiping out the surface world doesn’t wipe out Atlantis as well…sounds pretty cool, actually.

    Enjoy your day.

  56. CDon 21 Feb 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Hey guys, I was wondering if you could help me on my story.
    It’s mostly Sci-Fi but also part super hero genre also.

    Doc Ratho is a young boy living on the planet Medicox. He loves combat training at the academy and longs to join the planet’s Space Core to travel the stars. His best friend, Revo Ro, is a smart wannabe scientist and also wants to see the stars.
    This oppurtunity comes in the form of a crashed human satellite.
    Their government decides to create a program of young people to return the satellite as ambassadors and explorers of the planet.

    (This is merely a ruse as part of a their plan. There is a lost energy source imbedded in the centre of the planet and the aliens want it.)

    After rigorous training, Doc and Revo get into the team with a girl called Soriya Joa. They are genetically altered to have greater senses, strength, speed, healing, durability and slight invulnerability.
    After being sent to Earth, their ship crashed and Medicox Government tell their people that they were ‘shot’ down in hostile intent.
    Revo dies in the crash and Doc and Soryia escape.

    (Their supposed deaths was just a cover up so they could destroy the planet in a war and dig up the power source.)

    A Government branch collect the ships remains, including a recall device which they need.
    The pair of aliens decide to become ‘heroes’ and trick the humans into handing it over.
    After a few saves; the Government branch capture and torture them; they know about the incoming invasion.
    After talking to their race over radio; Doc and Soryia decide to defend the humans.

    In the war, Soryia creates inventions to save the humans while Doc leads the fight. Doc goes to sacrifice himself but Soryia creates a teleport system to switch places with him.
    She dies, just as Doc admits his love for her, and Doc is alone. He finds out the leader of the alien army is still alive.
    Enraged at the loss of his friends, Doc kills the leader and vows to protect the planet. He then disappears; saying he’ll return.

    So yeah…that’s it. What do you think?

  57. Kevin Holsingeron 22 Feb 2014 at 7:58 am

    Good morning, CD.

    What you’ve got sounds fine to me. I would only ask if you’ve laid out what happens after…

    “A Government branch collect the ships remains, including a recall device which they need.”

    …because the setup to that point seemed more fleshed out than what happened after. But maybe you were just trying to avoid making a really long post.

    Other than that, best of luck on your story, and enjoy your day.

  58. My Multiple Creative Personalitieson 26 May 2014 at 7:33 pm

    […] http://www.superheronation.com/2008/04/24/sample-plot-structures/ […]

  59. Yuuki991on 14 Jul 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Greetings everyone. For anyone who doesn’t know, I have completed my first draft of my story White Noise. I am happy, considering it took me three years to finish (on and off of it, plus school). I am working on the next installment. Before I explain the new story, allow me to explain the previous one:

    “After Derek Masters is chosen to become one of the Adjudicators of the Infinite Realms(an inter-dimensional organization), life is never the same for him. This is especially the case when a dark organization threatens to destroy earth.”

    Long story short, Derek figures out the main villianess, Miranda, for wanting to destroy earth. This is due to altruistic purposes. She wishes to prevent the rise of a series of cybernetic beings, called the Hellions(created by the US government), from destroying the planet and all of reality.

    Alas, with that context, allow me to delve into the next installment:

    “When Derek Master figures out he’s heading to Washington DC to visit family, he’s excited. But when a strange signature is detected within the capitol, Derek is put on alert. The situation is made worse when the CIA discovers his identity, and are after him. ”

    I won’t lie; my inspiration for this premise is rooted in political action thrillers, like the Fugitive. That said, I am uncertain.

    Being that this tale takes place a few months after the first, I want it to reference it. Specifically, I want to convey Derek being conflicted. On one hand, he promised Miranda he would fight against the Hellions, but at the same time he’s fearful of what’s to come.

    At the same time, I wish to showcase Derek in a corner at his lowest. I always appreciate stories where character are in the tightest of spots, and in turn will have to make choices, some that go against their nature to survive.

    Finally, I wish to convey the impact Derek’s persona has had on the world. The world itself was realistic in that prior to, no super-powered entities existed. And while Derek’s actions are noble, given the events of the last story-Miranda nearly destroying the world, there are those who are fearful of him and what’s out there.

    Hence, the villain,Scott Redford. That said, how is this story? I understand it would be easy to just tell the story of where Derek needs to fight the Hellions, but I want to try something different. I look forward to the feedback.

  60. Jess Son 29 Nov 2016 at 10:33 am

    I need a little help with my story in terms of plotting. Namely, on trying to get a plot.

    My story, if all goes as planned, should be generally about the inanimate and their relationship with humans if they were to come alive, as well as a critique on society. Much of my problems come of the fact that in my world, inanimate objects were previously thought to be simply inanimate, so I have no idea what could have changed, what problems happen within otherwise perfectly service-minded beings, to have some step out of line.
    Another problem comes from my insistence on trying to remain as realistic as possible. Only anything with basic wiring can come alive, so knives, mountains, etc. are out of the question. iPods to airplanes to skyscrapers, however, are. There hasn’t been any instance at all of the latter being used in serious novels, so I have no ideas for their society and personality even though they have a powerful presence in my worldbuilding.

    I have only a few ideas, but none of them are satisfactory. One is that the central character gets sympathy for whatever reason (needs work) and is given the ability to communicate/have an animate inanimate object provided they don’t say anything to anyone. While this would work well in concept, a lot of plot holes glare at me every time I write an outline, some unfixable without changing the core concept or worldbuilding.
    Another idea is to go down a darker route via a Rage Against the Heavens-type of plot, but Tom Pollock’s Skyscraper Throne series already covers this, and I don’t want to be accused of stealing the idea.

    Thank you and sorry in advance. I appreciate any ideas and criticism I can get.

  61. James Dakotaon 01 Dec 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Hmm, that’s a hard one. Maybe have the iPod (or whatever your main gets) communicate through Siri or other psuedo-AI’s? I mean, Siri already has her own voice, so if the iPod (let’s call it/him/her Ip) wants to tell (M/C) that someone else tried to get into her device, Ip could say it in Siri’s voice while (M/C) doesn’t have it muted. Or Ip could send (M/C) a text. You could have them react to their owners that way.

  62. Jess Son 02 Dec 2016 at 10:53 am

    Thank you for the idea! I haven’t considered staying true to the device’s original form and was considering 100% (well, more like 90%) personification, though this might be a better alternative and a more creative one.
    However, what would cause iP to start communicating? This might warrant a change in the worldbuilding- skyscrapers have oligarchical control over everything, but they don’t want to cause a threat to humans.
    So far, the only excuse I have is that there’s a slight difference of opinion up at the top of the pyramid. I don’t have anything pertaining to iP yet that would make them hold a grudge.

    In general questions:
    Would it be okay to have a story that’s fairly lighthearted? And is 90% personification for some characters (namely those that wouldn’t do much in their steel prisons) a good idea? The story itself is more thematic than story-driven and meant to get a message out.

  63. Andrewon 02 Dec 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I got the basis of what I plan, which character gets the limelight, villain, villain’s plan etc. The real problem I have is making it long enough to last. Anyone got any suggestions of how I can make my stories longer?

  64. B. McKenzieon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:31 pm

    “Would it be okay to have a story that’s fairly lighthearted?” Assuming my understanding of “fairly lighthearted” is somewhat similar to yours, it doesn’t sound very hard to execute or sell.

    “The story itself is more thematic than story-driven and meant to get a message out.” From a marketing or editorial perspective, that sounds sort of terrifying. If you have a message worth getting out, I’d strongly recommend taking the time to work it into an interesting story — e.g. see Watchmen, Dr. Strangelove, 12 Angry Men, Shawshank Redemption, Up, Westworld, etc. This would be an insta-rejection issue for me.

  65. B. McKenzieon 02 Dec 2016 at 5:48 pm

    “Any suggestions on how I can make my stories longer?” Thirteen!

  66. Ally Dakotaon 05 Dec 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Hewo, superheronation. You’ve probably heard a lot from my brother, James. He and I both love writing stories, although his are more sci-fi and mine more fantasy.

    Anyway, I was thinking about revamping fairytales (preferably Brothers Grimm ones), and combining two to make a new one, and make a series like that.
    My first idea was for “Sleeping Handsome and the Twins in the Tower,” a combination of Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, but probably not in a way you’d expect.

    So the story’s main antagonist is an evil witch named Malevolent (yes, based of SB’s maleficent), who is the mother of all other evil witches after her (which is why this will be the first book).
    Alavara is the narrator of the piece. She is a daughter of Malevolent, and actually turns out to be one of the few of Malevolent’s brood that turns out good.
    Belle and Babette are twin princesses that Malevolent had kidnapped and bewitched so that the were of the same mindset as her.
    Cole is a poor servant boy/slave that Malevolent had stolen and was forced to work around the castle
    Daniel is a prince that somehow found the castle and is there to save his cousins, Belle and Babette. Babette puts him into a deathlike sleep like in SB.

    I might also be throwing a Cinderella angle in here with Alavara’s two adopted sisters.

    Anyway, the story starts with Alavara talking about her mother. Then it gets on to the plot, which starts with Belle and Babette’s arrival. (Malevolent kidnapped them because their beauty rivaled her own, throwing a Snow White element in there). Belle and Babette are initially scared of their kidnapper, but Alavara (who is roughly between eight and ten) calms them down and shows them around. She doesn’t introduce them to Cole, for some reason. Anyway, they end up growing up to around 15 when the main plot happens. Daniel shows up one day while Malevolent is out running errands or something, and Alavara helps him get in to the castle (Oh, forgot–Alavara has a pair of wings so she flies a bit.) where he tries to convince B&B to come back with him. They don’t want to, and Babette curses him like I mentioned before. Alavara takes him to her quarters before the girls can do anything and of course Babette didn’t say the “true love’s first kiss” cure, there’s not much she can do. She tells Cole about the prince, because those two are BFFs, and she hears Malevolent come home later. However, Babette doesn’t tell M about Daniel (later Ally finds out that Belle was fighting M’s bewitchment and had wiped her sister’s memory). So during the day, Alavara is a servant girl to B&B and at night tries to find a fix for Daniel’s sleep. Malevolent doesn’t have much to do with Ally anyway, so she never really finds out. It gets kinda slow at this point, until Alavara finds something in an ancient scroll that suggests going to (magical place, not sure where) and leaves the castle for the first time. [I must break in here because I know you will poke holes at this point. Alavara never left the castle because she was too young to fly when B&B got there, and afterwords they would know she was gone and tell on her]. She meets several creatures along the way, including an ogre, a troll, a talking cat named Cal, and some walking trees, and she gets to where the cure is supposed to be found and collects some. Cal, who had gone with her since their first encounter, leaves her at this point and she heads home alone until she runs into a strange elf-like woman with white hair and skin and silver eyes like hers (this is noteworthy because most elves have dark chocolate skin, green eyes and red hair). There is also a very faint violet star upon the woman’s forehead, similar to one Alavara has. [yes, it’s her mother. kinda obvious]. The woman explains that she is the descendant of a great king of unicorns who was caught by Malevolent and turned into a human. He then had children with humans, and they had children. Alavara is this woman’s child, and was stolen by Malevolent when she was born with wings, in a strange anomaly. The woman’s name is Meridith. Alavara promises to come back to the forest and stay with Meridith, but she really has to get back to the tower. Upon her return she finds that Belle has broken free from Malevolent’s spell but has been cursed mute by Babette, and Babette had told Malevolent, in which event Cole hid Belle while M’s wrath boiled over. Ally returns just as M leaves to search the grounds for Belle. Once inside Cole explains everything to Ally as she awakens Daniel. Once he wakes up Babette storms in and finds them and is about to curse them before Alavara knocks her out with a whack from her wing. The dispose of Babette’s limp form in the ashes in the fireplace, getting her lovely coral dress absolutely filthy, and storm out of the castle. Horrible timing because M has just got back and sees them just as they enter the fringe of the forest. Eventually Ally turns herself into an alicorn/pegasus, all of the other three hop on board, and Ally flies off into the forest, which is when the book closes. Like aforementioned, this is the first in a series.

  67. Ally Dakotaon 05 Dec 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Oh, reason I posted this was bc wondering which arcs to emphasize on.

  68. Jess Son 07 Dec 2016 at 10:09 am


    I would love to see Alvara’s character arc. Why is she the only good witch? Why does she help Daniel? She doesn’t appear to change much before and after the journey despite being a powerful influence on the novel and it’s narrator.
    Showing B+B’s arc and them resisting the curse (when did they realize they were cursed? how are they fighting it?) would work well for the plot. Why did Belle break free but not Babette, who was shown to have been fighting the curse earlier.

  69. Ally Dakotaon 07 Dec 2016 at 2:26 pm

    @Jess S
    “Why is she the only good witch?” Because she is descended from unicorns. And technically, she isn’t a witch because she doesn’t do any spells or magic except the transformation at the end and that was only because unicorns in the series are shapeshifters.

    “Why does she help Daniel?” Probably because she wants to get rid of B&B, she was impressed that he found the castle, and she’s just kindhearted that way.

    “She doesn’t appear to change much before and after the journey despite being a powerful influence on the novel and it’s narrator.” I know. She’s a bit like Cinderella that way, always being the servant girl. She probably will change a ton when it comes to leaving the tower, and when she finds out her ancestry. Later she becomes a queen of the unicorn/humans which are called Fae after Meridith dies.

    “when did they realize they were cursed?” Babette never actually realized it, and was always kinda jealous and mean hearted to begin with. Belle, on the other hand, was nice and sweet. My inspiration for these two came from the stepsisters in Ever After (movie) and Belle and Bice from Another Faust (book.) Alavara guesses that Belle might’ve inherited some unicorn blood while her sister didn’t. Belle wasn’t very horrid at all to Ally and even helped her sometimes, so she’d been resisting the curse since it was placed on her and I guess only realized they were enchanted when Daniel arrived (because she felt like she should’ve wanted to go with him, but actually didn’t, even though she didn’t much like the castle).

    “how are they fighting it?” The curse is kinda like a form of mind control, except B&B aren’t mindless drones but they see things in a different light. Belle is a very sweet natured person and doesn’t like cruelty. It also works better if someone already has a seed of jealousy inside them, like Babette did. These characters are heavily inspired by Belle and Bice from Another Faust, though my Belle is Bice and Babette is Belle (in the book Belle sees the error of her ways and changes, but Babette really doesn’t).

    “Why did Belle break free but not Babette, who was shown to have been fighting the curse earlier.” No, Babette did not fight the curse earlier. Belle only broke free because she found a countercurse in an old tome in M’s library, which will be explained by Cole upon Ally’s return.

    Thanks for replying, btw!

  70. Manny807on 03 Mar 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Is absolute zero inducement op because it instantly kills and lowers the durability of the target.

  71. Revenge of the small macon 23 Oct 2019 at 9:31 am

    My main character has been forced to hide her powers from the world, due to their destructive nature. She is also an unwilling sidekick to someone who is (in her opinion) the most insufferable person she’s ever met. As she travels with him, she becomes more and more guilty about her secret. At the end of the book, the primary antagonist reveals her secret to the world.

    On the other hand, the villain has an altruistic motive that the the main character can personally identify with. He is (strictly speaking) right, but is using the wrong means.

    For the majority of the story, it seems to be a Single goal story. I am hesitant to classify it using one of these arcs.


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