Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Post by author Jack Lewis Baillot

I asked Miss Jack over at However Improbable to do the second guest post here at Stories in the Mind! She has done an excellent job and I can't wait to share it with you all! Enjoy!!!

Pinned Image

First off I'd like to thank Grace for asking me to guest post. THANK YOU, GRACE!
Second, I hope you don't mind I call you Grace.
Third...John says hi.
Fourth, let's get down to business..to defeat the Huns. Did they send me...oh, what? No Huns? That's sad.
Okay, serious now. Grace asked me to do a post on Developing New and Creative Ideas for Plots. I'm probably the last person in the world who should be attempting this. Why, you ask. You see, I don't come up with new plots. I plan something out and my characters change it half way through. However, I've learned a few tricks I will share with you.
Pinned Image
One. Let your characters tell the story the way they want. They will end up anyways and usually they have great ideas, but don't tell them this or they will get a big head.
Pinned Image

Two. READ. A lot. I'm not going to say read everything you can get your hands on because a lot of books out there aren't that great. But look for unusual books. Lemony Snicket is a good example. Look for things with new plots, things you've not seen before. (It is easy to find books with the simple plot of, “Girl is hiding from past. Meets boy hiding from past. Two don't like each other. They are forced to work together for some reason. They fall in love. The end.” If you want to stretch your imagination, you have to find stories without the typical plots. Movies help too, if you are a visual writer. Again, try and find something with unpredictable plots.
Three. Think outside the box. You want to write a story about a girl and a boy going on a quest. Well, that is done a lot. Even throwing in a dragon is very common now. So try something new.
I'm soddy at this without using examples. I've mentioned Lemony Snicket. He took a typical plot found in a lot of children's books. Orphans having to cope without their parents. But he put them in a world we are never really sure what it is like. Even the whole world is shrouded in mystery. Then he put in a villain who is evil and greedy and scary. Later he adds more mystery when the children realize that maybe their mum and dad weren't as perfect as they thought. And at the end, he adds a final twist with Count Olaf and Kit.
Even using a new setting helps. Another series I read which is a good example is the Larklight series, this series took another typical plot and added a new twist by setting.
The plot is basically a brother and a sister realizing the kingdom is in danger and it is up to them to save it, and along the way they met a dashing boy pirate who is running from a painful past. (Look in the book store, this plot is almost everywhere.) However, to make it new and interesting, the author took said brother and sister, moved them to space, set them in the Victorian Era, added some Aliens from Jupiter and Saturn, and put a floating house in the middle of it all – then he added new elements to the pirate which I cannot talk about without giving a lot away. Now his typical plot was new, exciting, and unlike anything else in the world.
Scot Westerfeld. He took a historical story and put a twist on it. WWI, the start of the war, the assassination of the Archduke of Austria. We know about this from school. However, he added in living airships, tank like things which moved by legs, not wheels. Even though he uses another typical plot idea, a girl disguised as a boy and a prince on the run, he added in so many new ideas that this typical plot isn't dull and boring.

Pinned Image
Basically, you can, you HAVE to use basic plot ideas. All plot ideas are pretty much the same. It is what you add into them which makes them new and creative. And for that you have to stretch your imagination.
So, think up the story you WANT to write. Don't worry if it sounds like all the new books coming out. Once you have the basic outline, think of ways you can make it different. (You've seen all the books out there. Go look online at teen books coming out. Most of them sound the same.) But, if you add in a dragon slayer who befriends a dragon – no, I'm not thinking How to Train your Dragon – and said dragon saves his life, and everyone sees, what is said dragon slayer to do? His reputation is ruined! Does he kill his new friend? Or does he swallow his pride and find a new profession? What if his pride is too big to swallow and he tells everyone he will slay the dragon for them all to see?
Or you could take a myth, or an event from history, and add your own twist to it. Look at the TV show Merlin.
What if a time traveler goes back in time and accidentally saves the life of a man who originally died?History is all messed up now, but to fix it, the man must make sure the fellow he saved dies...but they've become friends.
Pinned Image
So, I hope this gives you new ideas. But remember, if you have characters like me, don't become too attached to your ideas...because your evil characters will likely just change everything anyways.
Thank you again, Grace for the chance to guest post!

Jack Lewis Baillot is not impossible, just a bit unlikely. She is the author of Haphazardly Implausible, owns a pet hedgehog named John, and blogs over at However Improbable.
 Pinned Image


  1. Ah, great post Jack! See how inspirational Lemony Snicket is?! He pops up everywhere. I think you covered a lot of ground in this post and it's all very relevant. There are no new ideas! But you gave awesome tips for helping make those old ideas fresh and with a zing the readers won't forget.

  2. Jack. You're awesome.

    The end.

  3. Excellent writing advice! And characters do have a way of derailing everything, don't they?