Category Archives: Be Inspired

Plot Twist Story Prompts: New Person

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let’s see how introducing a new person impacts the plot.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Blocked Passage, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: New Person

For today’s prompt, insert a new person in the story. The new person may be a force for good or vessel for evil, a seemingly random bystander or someone with an agenda. But he, she, or it can play a major role in sending your story in a new direction.

One consequence of inserting a new person in the story is that you have a new character and personality to define, including what their motivations may be in relation to the direction of the story. But a new person also gives established characters a chance to reveal more about themselves too.

(11 Secrets to Writing an Effective Character Description.)

One character may see the new person as a great addition. Another character may see the new person as a threat. Other characters may completely disregard the new person, underestimating the new person’s capacity for heroism or villainy.

As such, a new person offers so many new opportunities to your story, whether that’s increasing tension, humor, fear, or other emotions. In many ways, a new person is a new mystery—for the reader, the other characters, and even the writer.

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If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blocked Passage

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, present your characters with a blocked passage.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, Tell a Tale, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Blocked Passage

For today’s prompt, block a passage for your characters. This could be a physical passage (like a locked door, dead end in an alley, or avalanche in a mountain pass). But your blocked passage could also be mental, emotional, or circumstantial.

For example, two people meet and fall in love and everything is amazing until…blocked passage! In this case, maybe one person’s mother falls ill and needs care while the other person has a job they can’t (or don’t want to) leave. That would be a circumstantial blocked passage.

(50 reasons for your characters to be stuck together.)

Of course, that could be followed up by a physical blocked passage. Using the same example, person A leaves person B, who then decides to quit that job after all. Problem is that now the border is shut down between here and there because war broke out (or there was a pandemic or some other catastrophe). Now there’s a physical blocked passage.

And don’t forget the emotional blocked passage. Because the separation may make one person’s feelings grow stronger, while the other person starts to question their feelings, especially if they meet someone new who is physically present and engaged in their life.

So yes, if you wanted to, you could totally stack blocked passages on top of each other to drive up the stakes. In fact, many great stories do exactly this.

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If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

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Literary World Records for Books and Authors

In this post, Don Vaughan reveals literary world records. Ever wonder which author sold the most books? Or which book has been translated the most times? How about which author has signed the most copies of their book on a single day?

World records tend to celebrate extremes: The largest, smallest, oldest, youngest, rarest. Such records can apply to just about anything—including books. In fact, Guinness World Records devotes an entire section to extraordinary book- and author-related achievements. 

Let’s explore a few of them.

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Book World Records

Size is always an impressive world record, whether we’re talking about the world’s tallest man (currently Sultan Kosan of Turkey, 8-feet, 2.8 inches) or the world’s largest book. The latter record is held by a tome titled This the Prophet Mohamed, which measures a massive 16.40 feet by 26.44 feet and weighs 3,306 pounds. It was produced by Mshahed International Group of Dubai, EAU, and debuted in February 2012.

On the other end of the spectrum, the smallest reproduction of a printed book is Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin. Researchers at Canada’s Simon Fraser University used an ion beam to etch the book on a pure crystalline silicon page measuring just 70 micrometers by 30 micrometers—a size so small you’ll need a scanning electron microscope to read it. Fun fact: Teeny Ted from Turnip Town even has its own ISBN.

A rather unusual book-related world record was set in October 2015 when staff from Sinners Domino Entertainment in Germany successfully toppled 10,200 copies of Guinness World Records 2016 domino style during the Frankfurt Book Fair. No word on who had to pick them up afterward.

If you thought your book collection was big, consider the personal library owned by John Q. Benham of Acova, Indiana. According to Guinness World Records, Benham’s personal collection is the largest in the world with more than 1.5 million volumes. It fills a six-car garage and two-story building, with additional books stored outdoors under tarpaulins.

(The 30-book challenge.)

Not all books end up in collections, of course; many are discarded after reading. A 2010 survey of more than 450 Travelodges in Britain found that the book most commonly left behind by guests was Simon Cowell: The Unauthorized Biography, by Chas Newkey-Burden.

Author World Records

Authors have also set a good number of interesting world records over the years. For example, the youngest commercially published female author is Dorothy Straight of Washington, D.C., who penned How the World Began in 1962 at age 4. The book was published two years later by Pantheon Books. The current holder of the world record for youngest published male author is Thanuwana Serasinghe of Sri Lanka, who was 4 years, 356 days old when his book Junk Food was published in January 2017. The book took Serasinghe three days to write.

It likely will come as no surprise that the best-selling author for fiction is the legendary Agatha Christie, whose 78 novels have sold a combined total of more than two billion copies in 44 languages. However, the record for most books sold in a 24-hour period belongs to J.K. Rowling. Demand for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was so strong that an estimated 8.3 million copies flew off store shelves upon its release at 12:01 a.m. on July 21, 2007. Rowling also is the world’s first billion-dollar author.

(12 magical quotes from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.)

Though Rowling’s works are astonishingly popular, she falls far behind Antoine de Saint-Exupéry as the most translated author of a single book. Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s tale The Little Prince has been translated into 383 different languages and dialects since its first publication in April 1943.

Of course, writing and selling a book is never easy. To promote their latest works, authors often host signing events. The current king of signings is Indian author Vickrant Mahahan, who signed a staggering 6,904 copies of his book Yes Thank You Universe in Jammu, India, on January 30, 2016.

(Why do authors cross out their name when signing a book?)

If you see that as a challenge, you’re not alone—world records are made to be broken. So keep writing. Perhaps someday you’ll be recognized by Guinness World Records for a remarkable literary achievement of your own.

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Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, we tell a tale within a tale.

Plot twist story prompts aren’t meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they’re for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I’ll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week’s prompt, True Feelings, here.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Tell a Tale

For today’s prompt, have a character tell a story within the story. This is a popular storytelling technique that’s been used through the ages to explain things that happened in the past or off camera. But it’s also a great way to set the mood or foreshadow future events.

This is how stories are used in Watership Down, by Richard Adams. At times, they help set up the worldview of the rabbits and even contrast one warren from another. But the stories also set up the cleverness of El-ahrairah (sort of a Robin Hood character for the rabbits) with the cleverness of the rabbits themselves, especially Hazel.

(25 Ways to Start a Story.)

But you don’t have to have a series of tales like in Watership Down. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon includes a popular tale called the “Flitcraft Parable” about a man named Flitcraft who suddenly decided to leave his family, job, and golf habit in Tacoma to roam the world. After a few years, he settles back into a new family, job, and golf habit in Spokane (about a four-hour drive from Tacoma). It’s an interesting enough story on its own, but the story also gives readers something to discuss within the context of the novel (just Google “Flitcraft story” to see how many do).

Of course, William Shakespeare frequently liked to include a play within a play. It’s a great way to mirror the actual story, but it can also be used to contrast with events. And it can definitely move things into a new direction, especially if the story told reveals something about other characters or events. 

Remember: There are many ways to tell a story. It can be revealed in dialogue, sure, but also in a letter, diary, newspaper clipping, or filtered through a secondary source.

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If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

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10 Plot Twist Ideas and Prompts for Writers

Is your story stuck? Shake things up with these 10 plot twist ideas and prompts for writers to help make getting from the beginning to the end more of an adventure for the reader and the writer.

Writing is a tricky craft. Sometimes getting a story started is the hardest part. Other times, it’s figuring out the grand finale. And then, there are all the twists and turns between the beginning and the end. That’s where this post aims to help.

(25 ways to start a story.)

After all, that’s where a majority of the writing and the reading is done. But most fun stories don’t follow a simple Point A to Point B path even if the plot is as simple as a fellowship of characters delivering a ring from one place to another. In fact, most stories worth reading take more than a few side paths and alleyways on their way to the end.

So I’ve collected 10 plot twist ideas and prompts to help writers spark new directions in their stories when they’re feeling stuck. Each idea is stated concisely below. But if you click on each link, you’ll find a more detailed description of the prompt with some ideas of how you can twist things up in your own stories.

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If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

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10 Plot Twist Ideas and Prompts for Writers

  1. The Old Acquaintance. Have an old acquaintance emerge from a character’s past.
  2. The Unknown Fear. Character reveals a previously unknown fear or phobia.
  3. Antagonist Gain. The story’s antagonist receives a new benefit.
  4. Unexpected Action. Character does something completely unexpected.
  5. Weather Breaks. The weather plays a role in the plot of the story.
  6. Personal Artifact. Character finds an object from their past.
  7. Animal Cameo. An animal makes an appearance in the story.
  8. Missing Item. An item (or a person) goes missing.
  9. Uncharacteristic Character. Character starts acting out of character.
  10. True Feelings. Someone admits their true feelings about something or someone.

If you find these helpful, check back every Thursday for more plot twist story prompts here.

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15 Lasting Quotes From The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Here are 15 lasting quotes from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. In this post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son and their fight for survival, there are plenty of quotable moments.

Published on September 26, 2006, The Road is a post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy, the author of No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses, and Blood Meridian. It is a survival story about a father and son who travel south, because the winters have grown too cold.

(Best Dystopian Novels for Writers.)

They live in a world that is nearly devoid of life (no birds, fish, or other living animals) and has broken down all social norms for the few people still living. However, the father and son protagonists in this novel fight to stay good and alive at the same time as they make their way to the coast.

Here are 15 quotes from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road that cover survival, dreams, promises, and more.

15 lasting quotes from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

“He tried to think of something to say but he could not. He’d had this feeling before, beyond the numbness and dull despair.”

“I dont want anybody talking about me. To say where I was or what I said when I was there.”

“If you break little promises you’ll break big ones.”

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If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

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“Maybe he understood for the first time that to the boy he was himself an alien. A being from a planet that no longer existed.”

(15 quotes from Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.)

“Maybe you should always be on the lookout. If trouble comes when you least expect it then maybe the thing to do is to always expect it.”

“My job is to take care of you.”

“People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didnt believe in that. Tomorrow wasnt getting ready for them. It didnt even know they were there.”

“Some part of him always wished it to be over.”

“The man could hear him playing. A formless music for the age to come. Or perhaps the last music on earth called up from out of the ashes of its ruin.”

“The right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of languor and of death.”

“There was a good chance they would die in the mountains and that would be that.”

(3 tips for writing cosmic horror that goes beyond.)

“This is what the good guys do. They keep trying.”

“We’re not survivors. We’re the walking dead in a horror film.”

“When we’re all gone at last there’ll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He’ll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to.”

(12 thought-provoking quotes from 1984, by George Orwell.)

“Where you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”

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