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Start writing fiction: characters and stories
Start writing fiction: characters and stories

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4.2.1 Developing your plot line

Figure 6

Developing the detail of your character will help you arrive at your story. And discovering causality – what causes your character to do things or to be the way they are – will give you plot. But how do you develop that plot?

Returning to the example:

‘A woman on the bus today carried her Pekinese dog inside her handbag. It had a red bow on its head that matched her sweater.’

Now consider:

  • Why was she on the bus?
  • Why did she have the dog and where was she taking it?
  • Why did she look the way she did?
  • Why did the dog have a red bow?

These are not scientific questions: if you wanted to know the correct answer to them, you would have asked her. They are matters for your imagination. Answering them will give you a plot.

For example:

  • Perhaps she is taking the dog to be put down at the vet’s, and is so upset about having to do so that she decides not to drive, and is taking the bus for the first time in ten years.
  • Perhaps she’s travelling through a dangerous neighbourhood and is now afraid to get off, so stays on the bus until it takes her back to where she lives, which also means that her beloved dog has a reprieve, and when she gets it home she feeds it the prime cut of rib-eye steak she’d intended for herself … and so on.