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8 basic rules for a best seller plot

Every writer dreams of coming up with a plot that will make their book into a bestseller. But coming up with a great plot can be a bit harder than first anticipated. There are, however, a few basic rules and guidelines that will help you to invent and shape a story and a plot that has the potential to reach thousands of readers!

Consider the plot an adventure

The plot is not simply the course of a story. It is an adventurous fragment from the life of the main character, a journey from A to B in which the person goes through life-changing situations. The plot consists of choices the protagonist makes in order to overcome to overall problem that is put in front of him, the problem he needs to solve. Make sure that everything you plot makes sense in light of the protagonist’s journey. Don’t add any ‘fluff’ or any scenes unrelated to solving the problem (or a problem further down the series, if writing multiple books) as this will burden your plot and most likely bore your readers.

2. The plot must make sense and match the character of the protagonist.

And vice versa. You cannot make a lawful good protagonist go on a killing spree just because he felt like it and it is hard to justify if you would let a super baddy stop all his badass evilness just to pet a puppy. Unless you have an excellent plot and a backstory that allows your protagonist and antagonist to do this of course. What I am trying to say here is that you need to make sure that your characters act ‘in character’. Make sure you have a clear idea of who your characters are and what they would do in certain situations. Don’t force the two to work together but let them both be influenced by each other.

3. The plot is actually nothing more than a succession of conflicts

The word “conflict” will be engraved in the memory of most writers. People read to experience something, to feel excitement and sensation, so a scene without conflict is downright boring. Therefore, make sure that every scene contains a conflict, no matter how small or large, that something changes for one of the characters. If it doesn’t, then omit the scene.

4. The main character only succeeds at the end

As mentioned above, someone reads to experience tension and conflict. In the best stories, the main character will not succeed during the adventure, sometimes not even at the end. Try to create the appearance of success with the reader, and then cancel it with an unexpected plot twist. Readers will be on the edge of their seats awaiting the real moment of success.

5. The antagonist is just as important as the main character

Without an antagonist, someone who thwarts the main character in his goal, a protagonist is nothing. The antagonist is the main source of conflict in a story. This puts the antagonist and the protagonist directly opposite each other in the storyline. This is best expressed if the antagonist believes that what he is doing is right. Not sure how this can play out or in need of an example? Think of Thanos fighting the avengers so he can wipe out 50% of all living creatures because he saw there were too many creatures to sustain a healthy universe.

6. Readers want to be surprised

In addition to the fact that the reader prefers to read something original, the reader also wants to be surprised. This may sound logical but remember that if readers are surprised by your story, plot twists or even the way your characters find a solution to their problem, they will most likely leave you a great review. And nothing is better than word of mouth (or word of keyboard in this case).

7. Leave nothing to chance

It is a well-known thing that readers do not like deus ex machina endings, nor do they like it when things seem to happen by sheer chance. Whatever happens in your story needs to be a reaction to something unless it is part of the premise of your story.

But leaving nothing to chance also relates to making sure that you plot out your story in detail. Nothing worse than half-arsing the plotting stage and ending up with massive writers block. Another side effect of not plotting your story well is that you add in too much fluff, needless details and unnecessary dialogue. These can make your book feel slow, boring and distract the reader from the main storyline.

8. Handle multiple types of conflicts

Conflict can take many forms. Think of inner conflicts, personal conflict and external conflict. Everything your characters do has consequences that sometimes lead to special situations. If you are able to weave these forms of conflict into your story in a natural way, you are well on your way to writing a stellar best seller!



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