Question: I know you may have found yourself answering the same question over and over, but how can I figure out a plot? Many times I have attempted to write a novel, but I always drag that dreaded Microsoft document into the recycle bin because I think it's a pointless idea. Any advice on how to lure some action and unique characters in the mix to make my novel more interesting?
The best ideas often take you by surprise. They come according to their own schedule, not when you want them.
However, if you don't want to spend too much time waiting for an idea, you can also do a lot to draw them in.
One thing that can help is to do a lot of brainstorming. You can start with a brief description (one or two sentences) of a sterotypical story in a genre you like. Change one or two major things about it, to make it different. Then run it through the following process..
1. Make a list of questions someone might ask about this idea. Try to avoid yes/no questions. Instead look for questions that could have a many possible answers.
2. When you have a good list, go back and list possible answers for each question. Don't reject any possibilities at this stage.
3. Now go back, choose the answers you like the best, and re-write the story idea to include them.
You can repeat this process several times if you like. Make sure in step 3 you pick the answers, the ideas, that you feel excited about. Make your revised story idea something you would really love to write.
Don't worry if it doesn't all make sense after the first round. Just create a question in the next round to address any logical flaw, so you can brainstorm ways to make the story make sense.
Once you have an idea that's somewhat fleshed out and that excites you, use this article to make sure you have addressed the essential dramatic requirements...
After that, you may find other articles on this site to help with plot structure.