This morning, I laid out a basic story spread with the Story Forge plot cards. I thought I would share it as a writing exercise.
I would really love to see all the variations people come up with, so I encourage everyone to write the story, post it online somewhere, and share a link to it in the comments. If your story is flash fiction (1,000 words or less), you can share it directly in the comments, or you can share your first page. (Yes, I’ll do up a story and share it, too!)
This is from the “Once Upon a Time” spread, which is short and fairly basic. You could get a rough outline for an entire novel from this, but it really seems best for short stories/novellas.
The Protagonist: A doctor or healer.
The Current Situation: Catastrophic physical disaster for individual, community, or humanity.
What Makes the Situation Unstable: Red tape
What Prevents the Protagonist’s Involvement: Lust
What Overcomes the Resistance: Epiphany (In an overwhelming instant, the true nature of the universe and one’s place in it is revealed.)
What Pushes the Protagonist into Action: The Officer (A career soldier with many years of training, combat experience, and a life in the military.)
Direction the Protagonist is Pushed: Courage (Emotional fortitude is found. Even in the face of impending doom, the will to go on is within reach.)
Goal: Solitude (The goal must be pursued alone. Either assistance is not available or it must be refused.)
Four of the eight cards were destiny cards which “represent the big issues in one’s live, those events that strike like lightning and leave everything completely changed forever.” So this catastrophic disaster is going to cause a major life change for our protagonist.
I debated whether or not to leave “solitude” as the goal card, because that’s not exactly a resolution, is it? But I decided that I liked it because it leaves the end more flexible. Does the hero conquer the disaster? Succumb to it? (Death is the ultimate solitude!) Or is he going to have to fight the good fight for the rest of his life? Solitude also implies that he loses his lust-mate, but it can also mean that he loses his officer mentor/partner/friend. Or it might mean that he is the sole survivor or has to shut himself off from others in order to work on a solution. (Think I Am Legend.)
There is nothing that says you have to adhere to the entire spread. For instance, “red tape” might be something that you don’t bother to represent (especially if you’re wanting a fairly short story), or it might appear towards the end of the story rather than at the beginning. The point of the cards is to give you an idea for a story, not write the entire story for you. So use them as a jumping-off point and feel free to deviate where necessary.
I will try to have a rough draft (or at least a start) by next week. So we’ll revisit this next Thursday and see what we come up with. Writers, start your computers!