Enrich a Story Plot

Last week I was wondering if I could combine two plots into one. One idea was for an Event and one for Characters. While I still think they could have meshed, the character story took off on it’s own into a short story.

Now the question is what to do with the Event idea, how to enrich it into a full blown novel idea. Here are some ways to enrich an idea that I’m going to try.
Setting. For me, The setting make a huge difference to a story. This is both a when and a place. When does the story/specific scene occur? What historical time period, what time of year, what time of day?

Medieval England is far different from 3030 Mars. Winter is far different from spring. A lake is different from downtown New York City. Think hard about what the setting means in terms of characters: who would be there? What are cultural norms in such a place? What could happen here and what could never happen here?

Also, what conflict is inherent in the setting? An ice-covered lake becomes dangerous during an early thaw – and you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it. A board room implies conflict in a power play.

Family. Another way to enrich all plot/story is to look to family situations. This could be anything from a blended family to a strong matriarchal family to adopted kids. Included in this could be any of a wide range of betrayals, misunderstandings, etc. I try to put this together with my original idea. Given A, what is the worst thing that could be happening in the family relationships? Depending on the audience, can you include this in the story, or some variation of it?

Backstory. I like the idea of building in connections between characters in the back story. Characters met at a previous job, went to the same school, had the same kind of dog – anything.

This will also build in possible conflicts: the dog likes A better than B, resulting in jealousy. Or A passed a test by copying off B’s paper.

By looking at the setting, the family and the back story — something every story already has — and making the most of these, my plot will grow. Of course, I’ll have to throw in some twists and unexpected things, but it’s a start. Here’s hoping the plot develops this week.

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