Before we begin talking about plot outlines, character development and setting, let’s discuss a little concept called genre. The word is pronounced john-ra or zhon-ra, and it simply means kind or variety. In our case, it refers to the kinds of stories we read and write.
When I present a talk on novel writing, I often ask the audience for their input on the basic elements of fiction, and they come up with several immediately: plot, setting and character. Let’s begin with these.
Plot, according to James Scott Bell in his excellent how-to book Plot & Structure, is: “1) a small piece of ground, generally used for burying dead people, including writers and 2) a plan, as for designing a building or novel.”
Plot is what happens in our stories: the beginning, the middle and the end; with a story arc that takes the reader from one part to the next with compelling situations.