When writing a short story I often figure out how I want the plot to start, I set up the scenario and chug along through the beginning; developing my characters and figuring out which point of view to use (1st person, 2nd person, 3rd person) and adding other elements to make my story come to life. The problem I often run into is when my plot needs to change, whether it be because I have discovered I can’t successfully get from point A to point B or sometimes m characters develop in a different way and my original ideas just don’t make sense anymore. One solution I have started to practice is brainstorming. Now I know this is an activity many of us have probably ben doing since kindergarten, but it’s a process I don’t always think to do once I’ve started writing. Sometimes the idea of pausing mid-story and taking time to brainstorm can feel frustrating because discovering the many different routes a story can take can be overwhelming, but this fact should be celebrated and not feared. If you’re struggling to come up with what decision your character should make or how to move along the plot, simply pose a question to yourself and compile the answers in a brainstorm to really consider the possibilities.
For example: Suppose your protagonist just witnessed a murder from a far. What would your protagonist do?
- Call the police and run away
- Pretend they didn’t see anything and deal with the burden of walking away.
- Call police and enter the witness protection plan, new identity and everything
- Try to be a hero and stop the murderer from getting away
- Have the murderer spot your protagonist and a chase could occur
- The protagonist could know the murderer or the person who was murdered
These are just a few ideas I came up with in less than a minute; I already have extended plot ideas just by making this list and using it to figure out what fits best for my protagonist.