Creating Story Events

by Naomi

Question: One of the questions I find most important is creating events. I can imagine an event but when I look at it I don't find it connected to the plot or at least making the character emotional at all. Can you please give me some tips.


Answer: When creating events, you must remember than a story event is not just something that happens. The event must be significant and it must affect a character in a way that gives him or her a new purpose.

For instance, imagine your character wins a lottery. A sudden arrival of wealth will change his life profoundly, and not just in material ways. All his relationships will be affected. People will treat him differently, and he will have to make many decisions from how to handle his wealth to how to handle his relationships. New opportunities may arise as a result, as well as pitfalls. Maybe he's happy at first, but then he may worry about how to handle his wealth. He may become fearful of losing it or having it stolen. An entire plot could be developed from this one event.

Here's another example. Imagine if someone's father dies. Suddenly, the person may be forced to confront feelings he's had about his father but suppressed for many years. He may face an inner struggle to come to terms with this event and his past. Information that the father kept hidden may be revealed and that may cause the family members to react emotionally and to take actions. Again, an event like this can cause an entire chain of related events to unfold.

So you see, a story must begin with a significant event, one that changes a person's life, that forces him or her to make a decision or action - based on the emotions associated with the event. Whatever decision or action the character takes will lead to the next event, and the next. And this chain of events will make up the plot.

So if you have an event in mind, ask yourself how it will affect the characters, and especially your main characters. If the answer is, "not at all," then find a different event. If you have an event that works, you can ask yourself what caused the event, or what resulted from it, and built your plot that way.

(I shortened your question a bit, I hope you don't mind.)

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