While your story needs to be original, there are certain fundamentals for plot development that need to be followed. Once you know the rules, then you can break them, but this must be done carefully and with a purpose. There are some basic no-no’s that drive readers to not only scream and tear their hair out, but more than likely delete you and any future works from their list.

Need a story idea? Fill in the blanks using the classic “What if?” premise. What if a ____ and a ____ went to _____ and ______. For practice, fill in the blanks based on your favorite sit-com or movie.

Don’t shock your readers with something that hasn’t been alluded to in some way. It actually builds more suspense to hint at it, making them wonder what’s going to happen.

Avoiding Deus ex machina endings should go without saying. If you write sci-fi or fantasy, set up the possibility for a dramatic ending so you don’t spring it on the reader out of the blue. Miracles are fine, as long as you develop the possibility beforehand.

All fiction needs to be convincing and seem real. Create any possibility you want, just make sure the reader will be convinced.

Be original! If you’re going to rehash an over-used plot vehicle, give it a new twist. If your story is too predictable, you’ll lose readers.

Be familiar with the archetypal “Hero’s Journey”. It resonates with humanity and has been a literary vehicle for millennia.

When writing a series, it’s helpful to go back and reread the previous stories before starting the next one. You’ll be surprised how many little details you’ll find which you can tie in or use to create new plot twists. Fans love it when they encounter and recognize such connections.

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