I have no idea where to start. Please help!

by Natasha
(Beacon, New York)

Question: I have this story I'm writing, called Brotherhood, and I can't seem to plot it out right. I always end up confused and stuck. My problem, in my opinion, is that I don't know what my main character wants or the story goal is supposed to be. I have tried to come up with external and internal conflicts but its hard for me. You see, my plot revolves around my main character, a wolf actually, who has OCD. I myself have OCD so I know about the experience. Anyway, my theme is "You can't live a positive life with a negative mind", and I'm wondering how I can show that throughout the story. Thanks in advance.

Answer: That premise sounds like you're writing a tragedy in which the main character's "negative mind" makes it impossible for him/her to live a positive life. Hence, the consequence--a negative life--would be the outcome.

Bear in mind that, in a tragedy, the story goal does not occur, rather the consequence does. The opposite is true for a happy ending. So the goal would be the "positive life," whatever that means to the character.

What I would suggest is that you try to imagine what the world would look like if the story were to have a happy ending. If it were a film, what would the last shot be? For instance, in a classic romantic comedy, it might be the wedding photo. In a story about killing a monster, it might be the celebration of the victory. In a war story it might be the hero returning home and hugging his children.

Do the same for the consequence. What would a "negative life" look like? Dying alone? Ending up in poverty? Being burned at the stake by an angry mob? Being put in a zoo? Try to think of an image that would capture it.

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