Day 3: Pick a Plot – Write a Tiny Story

Day three, fiddle-di-dee, and today we’re gonna craft a teeny tiny story. 

If you took our ‘Write a Tiny Novel’ course last month you’ll know that it’s actually pretty quick ‘n’ easy to come up with a whole plot once you have the basic outline.

And as storytellers and story consumers, we’re pretty good at recognising all the basic narrative shapes and structures.

For example, I bet you could think of a dozen books/movies/stories with the following plots: 

QUEST!

Our protagonist goes on an adventure to seek their fortune / recover something that’s been lost / find someone special… Action, mystery, romance – this one covers the whole gamut. 

PURSUIT!

Our protagonist is being chased by something terrible OR is chasing after something. A murderer. A detective. A belief. Unrequited love. A race against time. So many options. 

RESCUE/ESCAPE

Our protagonist must rescue someone important from a dire situation. OR perhaps it’s our protagonist who is trapped/captured and must escape. Stakes are high, sacrifices must be made… 

REVENGE

Our protagonist has been wronged and must have vengeance if it’s the last thing they do. The thing about revenge, though, is that it always comes at a cost…  

RAGS TO RICHES

Our protagonist starts off down and out and climbs their way to success against all odds. It’s a difficult journey but everyone loves an underdog!

TRANSFORMATION

Our protagonist’s life is turned upside down and they must drastically change in order to survive / succeed / adapt to their new situation. (Hopefully they end up a better person but it can go either way!) 

Gif of a man dressed as a king holding a picture book saying "Who's ready for story time?" and raising his arms in the air. 

A group of small children in fancy dress jump up and down excitedly in response.

Six classic story shapes/outlines – a gazillion possibiltiies…

Because the great thing about storytelling is you can tell the same basic story over and over again in a completely different way, just by changing a few details here and there. And that’s exactly what we’re gonna do.

So. First, pick your favourite plot from the list above (or roll a die to pick one at random).

Then, pick a character from the images below:

A set of four photos depicting a variety of people. 

In the first, four young white people sit on a low concrete wall. They are dressed very colourfully: in purple platform boots and cow-print dungarees and greens and blues and yellows and oranges. Two of them are wearing sunglasses and three are wearing hats. They are all staring at the camera. 

In the second image a child of around eleven with olive skin and shoulder-length brown hair sits in a car looking pensive with their hand up to their chin. The sun is setting beyond the window and casting a glow onto the child's face. 

In the third image a young black man stands in front of a pink and blue neon sign. The letters NAS and the numbers 29 can be seen but the rest are hidden by his body. He is wearing a fur-lined hooded coat and futuristic black wraparound sunglasses. His hair is natural, shorter on the sides and about six inches high on top. 

In the fourth image a white woman with dyed red hair strides purposefully across a lawn pulling a water cooler behind her. She is carrying anothe rbag in her other hand. She is wearing a fancy light blue dress and red heels and sunglasses. Behind her is a tall brick wall.
A series of four images depicting a variety of people. 

In the first image a line of young white male soldiers stand holding guns. They are wearing matching brown uniforms and grey hats. They wear a variety of expressions from confrontational to wary. Behind them is a city with ornate buildings topped with domes and spires. 

In the second image a young black man with short hair stands at the top of a steep street holding a tiny ginger kitten in one arm. His other arm is behind his back. He wears a white shirt with a spotted pattern. The street looks as if the buildings are under construction and behind him are enormous hills. 

The third image shows two black women standing in front of a grafitti-covered wall. They are dressed for a wedding: one wears a white dress and the other wears a white suit. The first has natural loose hair, the second has locs pulled into a pony tail. They are both laughing and the woman in the suit is resting her forehead against the other woman's shoulder. 

The fourth image shows a crowd of people holding candles at night. They look sad and pensive. In the forefront is a middle aged woman in a vest top and loose, curly hair. She has an X shaped tattoo on her uper arm. Beside her is an older woman and a young man.

Now give yourself 20 minutes to come up with a scenario to fit your character into your chosen plot.

You may find it helpful to use our foolproof four-point-plan to help map out your teeny tiny outline: 

  1. Something happens and your character’s life totally changes! They have a problem to solve…
  2. They try to solve the problem…
  3. Turns out things are a bit more complicated—they fail/succeed at solving the initial problem but now there’s a BIGGER problem or more serious consequences!
  4. The situation is resolved/unresolved but your character is CHANGED in some way. 

HINT: You can always use an existing template for the classic plots above to help you. Take one of your favourite books or films that fits your chosen plot and deconstruct it using the four point plan.

For example, how about Macbeth – a classic tale of TRANSFORMATION

  1. Macbeth is a brave and respected warrior who receives a prophecy that he will one day be king of Scotland – but the current king immediately names his son as his successor. Hmm, what to do, what to do… 
  2. MacB and his wife decide the obvious way forward is to murder the heck out of the king and take his place. Job done. 
  3. Or is it? Because the prophecy also said that MacB’s best mate Banquo’s kids would inherit the throne. Better murder them as well. Along with anyone who so much as looks a bit suspicious…
  4. The consequences come back to bite him and the old king’s son brings an army to defeat Team MacB. Macbeth has transformed from a courageous warrior to a paranoid, power hungry tyrant. Lesson learned.   

Don’t overthink it. We’re not aiming for a perfectly crafted story here – we’re just noodling around with outlines and story shapes. Aim to get your four points down or a paragraph of an outline, and if you feel inspired you can always flesh it out even more later.

This exercise is really meant to be quick and silly and super fun (and also works great as a festive party game!) but it’s great practice for harnessing those random story ideas and turning them into something tangible.

So have a go and see what you come up with. Then come and share your teeny stories with us in the forum for feedback and general applause!


Useful Stuff & Things:

Blog: 
Want more advice on recycling plots and developing that four point plan? Read What’s the Plot

Course:
Want to expand your tiny story into something novel-shaped?! Learn how to turn your four point plan into a comprehensive story outline with Plotstormers: How to Plot a Novel

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