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  • Writer's pictureAvalon Roselin

Creative Writing Basics: Plot

When broken down to its barest essentials, the plot of a story consists of the initial conflict, the steps the characters take to resolve the conflict, and the result of their attempts.

A simple plot may have only one conflict, one step taken to resolve the conflict, and then a straightforward solution. For example, many books for early readers and picture books feature simple cause-and-effect conflicts and resolutions, such as a child being bored on a rainy day trying many activities to overcome said boredom and ending by finding that they enjoy rainy days because they allow for so many different activities the child may not have thought of otherwise. Another example would be that a new student is nervous about their first day at school, is able to make friends at their new school, and ends the story feeling more confident about going back to school for their second day.

When writing for older audiences--such as middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult--it is common for the steps the characters take to resolve the initial conflict to lead to more conflicts, or reveal nuances to the original conflict. For example, the initial conflict may be a struggle over resources in a given region. When the characters take steps to resolve this conflict by invading the opposing side, they discover that their enemies aren't evil, but people trying to survive just like them. Now the characters are faced with an internal conflict that is not so easily resolved and it will take more steps for them to come to a resolution. This can lead to subplots (which I'll talk about a little later).

For now ,let's go back to that term i just mentioned: internal conflict. There are several types of conflict that can occur in a story. These are grouped into two broad categories: external conflict and internal conflict.

External and internal describe the source of the conflict an external conflict comes from outside the character, while an internal conflict comes from a character's own emotions, mental state, or morals.

For a further breakdown of types of conflict, the monomyth, and the Seven Basic Plots, check out the video below!

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