Every writer has their own method for coming up with storylines. Character and plot are intertwined and interdependent and when the story is written, it should all blend seamlessly so the characters fit perfectly into the storyline.
To me, the conflict between characters drives my stories. They each want something different and are thrown together so that by the end they want the same thing. The most likely source of conflict is related to people's jobs, so I often choose a job type or industry as my starting point. I'll come up with a variety of problems that might arise and what sort of people would cause those problems, and that's who the other main character will be.
Let's say my first character is the curator of a museum. Plenty of interesting possibilities here. It can be set in any city and allows for some travel. What sort of issues does someone in this job face?
--trying to acquire a particular artwork or artifact
--staging a special exhibit
--trying to get funding to keep the museum open
Now I'll come up with some characters that would make achieving these goals difficult:
--a rival museum curator bidding against him
--a reluctant art owner who changes his mind about selling the item
--an expert who declares the item a forgery
--an art thief who targets an item in the exhibit
--a rival museum curator who wants to host the exhibit
--the head of a foundation who decides not to fund this museum
--a rival museum curator (this character can fit into almost any scenario)
Now I've got eight possible storylines and characters to throw at my museum curator. All I need is to come up with some secondary conflict, such as the rival museum curator is an old lover/friend/etc., of our main character, or the object in question has particular personal meaning for one of the characters that drives their passion about it. Now, the two have a history, a conflict and somehow they are going to fall in love before the conflict gets resolved.
Once I've got this far, I'll do a bit of character development and once I've fleshed my two main characters out, the story pretty much writes itself!
I like these so much, I'm off now to write one!
What methods do you use for story development?
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