Saturday, September 21, 2019

Developing Plot Lines

This month's topic is about plots and how they are developed: from personal experience, imagination, or research? For me, as I believe it is for most authors, it is a combination of all three with maybe more stress on one than the others during particular scenes.

In my case, the plot for a story develops from imagination, but this is often based on research supporting different aspects of the setting—especially with science fiction and fantasy features of most of my stories. I do use
personal experiences, although a lot of them come from interactions with others and I use my knowledge of their tribulations or achievements to add drama to a story.

Most often I hope my plot is tightly bonded to the setting, as setting often influences the story's progression. I base my science fiction on imaginative settings developed from some knowledge of science combined with some fanciful ideas about where known science and society might take humans. For one of my science fiction novels, I had to research the possibility of bio-forming a planet, how it could possibly be done and how long it might take. Because of scientific speculation, many have the idea that humanity will eventually move to distant off-world places. This was also the case with developing super soldiers for two stories. It turned out these soldiers were too dangerous to keep but too valuable to destroy, so they ended in cryogenic containers as property rather than people.

On the other hand, the often dual part of the scifi/fantasy genre, fantasy, is often based on a historical settings, which also takes research.

I’ve written contemporary stories, and some might think them easier to write, but contemporary society is fast-moving and under constant change. Remember how Jane Austin wrote a contemporary romance that evolved into historical romance? While the purpose behind the plot may be easier to develop, realism comes from investigating locations, weather, travel, housing, and fashion. Plus police departments operate differently from location to location. In the United States, every county of every state has its own local laws. These cannot contravene state or national laws, but they can affect a plot.

The important part of the plot is the story's purpose, the difficulties in reaching it, and the ultimate outcome. Reactions between characters produce the drama and
impulsion contained within the plot, which is where personal experiences often become important.

A plot with a strong purpose, an accurate or at least believable setting, and realistic characters all work together to create a good story and are all dependent on my willingness to research, and then use my imagination and experience.

Please visit the following authors to read their take on the subject:
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Skye Taylor
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Diane Bator
Connie Vines
Anne Stenhouse 


  1. You make a very good point about police procedures differing between states/countries. I enjoyed this topic very much.

  2. Excellent point on how purpose/theme/lesson are also a strong influence on the plot, beyond the imagination, research and experience.

  3. "Contemporary society is fast moving and under constant change." This certainly speaks to me. Any story in current time is likely to end up as an alternative reality. For example, a little over a year ago, No one knew about Greta Thunberg. Now, she is changing the world!

  4. All good points, Rhobin. i may avoid writing about America as there's so much I don't know. Local laws were new to me, for example. anne stenhouse

  5. I enjoyed your post and your description of how you do your scientific research.And I really like and agree with "The important part of plot is the story's purpose, the difficulties in reaching it, and the ultimate outcome." Beverley