Plot Development

The Story Swamp

Sometimes writers think up a character and jump straight into writing, without fully fleshing out the concept at a foundational level. This then means they falter and end up writing a very confused draft. I call this ‘The Story Swamp.’

Avoid The Story Swamp by writing a ‘logline’ or ‘pitch’ of approximately 25-60 words. This logline should cover what B2W calls The 3 Cs:

Character: Who is your protagonist? What does s/he need or want?
Conflict: Who is the antagonist? Why does s/he want to stop or counter your protagonist? What other obstacles are in your protagonist’s way?
Clarity: Do we know what genre or type of story this is? Are you using familiar or clichéd language? Are your word choices too vague?

Discuss this exercise

Feel inspired? Share your story below.

Similar Exercises

Get your creative juices flowing with these similar creative writing exercises.

Plot Development

In Case of Fire

Moments of crises force characters to act without thinking, revealing things that might not have been previously obvious. Now imagine that there has been a blazing fire in your protagonist’s house. What are the three …

Plot Development

Mad Libs

Close your eyes and write down four adjectives at random. Now write down three nouns. Now write down two verbs. Now write down one adverb. Now open your eyes. Your challenge is to write a …

Plot Development

It's All About Your Point of View

Write a pivotal scene in your novel from a different character’s POV. For instance: at a funeral, you may have written the grieving widow’s thoughts and feelings. Write about that funeral from the deceased husband’s …

Plot Development

The Gatsby Method

Establishing how your character is perceived by others is a great way to give them greater context. It can provide the author with expectations to subvert for the reader and add an interesting mystique to …

Plot Development


Describe your favorite item of clothing. Is it a favorite because of how it feels, how it looks, or because of an event you wore it to? What do you think the item of clothing …

Plot Development

Break Through The Block

Think of writer's block as a symptom, not a condition that can’t be remedied. When we’re stuck and can’t get to our creative work, there’s usually a reason — and therefore a way to move …