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Your MC Drives the Story

The best way to keep readers on the edge of their seats is to make them worry. How? Create a main character (MC) they care about, then make them believe your MC’s happiness depends on how the story ends.

There are two guaranteed ways to make the story affect your MC’s future happiness:

  • Give your MC a goal. Create a situation that would allow your MC to achieve it. (Of course, lots of things will get in the way, but that’s for the next section.)
  • Give your MC a shortcoming or a problem. Create a situation that makes it impossible for your MC to ignore the shortcoming or problem any longer.

Make sure your MC earns a happy ending. The story should force the MC to change or learn something before achieving the goal or overcoming the flaw or problem.

Plenty of Trouble

Your MC can struggle with or against anything – nature, a situation, another character. It will be more fun to write if you choose something that would trouble you – a lot.

The trouble can start small or you can smack your MC with a heap of it right away. Just make sure things get worse before they get better.

Moment by Moment

Picture the events in your story like scenes in a movie. Write what you see, feel and hear. Include dialogue (people talking), action, description and your MC’s thoughts and feelings. In a short story, three or four moments, or scenes, are often enough to show the problem, make things worse and show your MC fixing things. To learn more about writing scenes, go to Show the Action, Share the Response.

Plot Structure

Every story has the same basic structure: a beginning, a middle and an ending. Okay, okay, don’t throw things. I know you already know that. I had to bring it up because each section has a specific job. To find out more, start at the Beginning.

To practice the tips and techniques on this page, go to the activities page For Plots.


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