By now, I’d guess most writers find out pretty quickly that there are really no “new” plots. There are new characters, new settings, new ways of acting or reacting to stimuli…but the base plots have all been done before. In romance: boy meets girl, chaos occurs, they fall in love and live happily ever after. There are variations, of course, but that’s the basic gist. The challenge then becomes how to twist the plot into something just different enough to hook people, but not so different it becomes a different genre altogether.
I’ve been trying something recently that I hope helps give my writing a little more originality. I call it “twisting the plot”, and no doubt others do it all the time, but it really excited me the first time I did it, and now I try to do the same with every new idea I come up with.
I start with the basic plot. For example:
Daisy Mae walks into a bar one night, having just lost her job. Howard the bartender is totally hot, and such a good listener that when he hits on her, she goes home with him. He helps her tell her family what happened and defend her position when they attack her, he rebuilds her self-esteem, she falls in love with him, and they live happily ever after.
Then I start thinking of ways I could have the exact opposite happen, to twist things around:
– Daisy Mae could say no to Howard, but go home with Frank instead. Howard could be jealous, or a love triangle could start.
– She might wish he’d ask her out, but he offers her a job instead. She takes it.
– She could get hit on by a totally hot guy, but Howard the average looking bartender is less of a threat so she goes home with him.
– Maybe she hits on Howard. And he says no.
I keep coming up with ideas until one stands out…and that’s the one I plan out to write. This weekend I came up with a “vanilla” small town romance plot, and managed to twist it into something with the potential to be quite a bit kinkier by the time I was done. It’s one of the best parts of planning, in my opinion.
Do you twist your plots? How to you try to inject twists into your story, to spice up a basic story in your genre (s)?