• Jessica Sherry

Lightning Strikes: Plot Development

Tubing down the Cape Fear River on a beautiful Saturday promises a fun, relaxing time with family. But real life often breaks promises. Halfway through the slow-paced trek toward the end, clouds form overhead. Rain pelts the water. Thunder echoes and lightning strikes. Closer and closer still. Finally, lightning hits so close to the frightened tubers, the noise rattles their ears and electric shocks ripple through their bodies.


A fun, relaxing float down the river becomes a desperate climb up a muddy, steep riverbank to escape the next bolt and a race through the woods to get to safety again--not exactly the Saturday intended.


Not for us--yes, this really happened--or for the inebriated twenty-somethings whose party was so rudely interrupted. One guy called 9-1-1 when he thought he'd been hit by lightning.


Everything can change in a moment. If your story is floating along in a predictable way, it's time for some lightning bolts. Electrify your plot by giving your characters a hardship to survive. While Mother Nature offers many opportunities, your bolts can come from anywhere. A death in the family. A promotion. A break-in. A murder. A traffic jam. A hurricane (we're about to have one of those in the next twenty-four hours). A betrayal. A pandemic. Anything.


Think lightning bolts. What sudden strikes can you hit your MC with to invigorate your story? What can they survive that will provide depth and meaning to your overall plot? How does your MC react to life's lightning bolts? Does their reaction show strength or weakness?

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