Fiction Writing Masterclass

Lesson 5: How to Plot a Short Story

This week we’ll cover the essential elements of plot, story arc, and structure, as well as how to write beginnings, middles, and ends.

Elizabeth Dawber
16 min readMar 7, 2022

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Image created by the author in Canva

This is the fifth lesson in an 8-part series on writing fiction. It has been designed to take you through the process of writing a short story from start to finish. For more information, including the content covered in each lesson, check out my introductory post here.

In previous lessons, we’ve covered ideation, character building, point of view, and setting. However, to ensure you create a fully-formed story you need to know how to plot the individual events within it. You may think that plot and structure should come first in the planning process but don’t forget, it’s the character’s wants and needs that drive the story. If you start with plot you’ll often end up with a series of events that are devoid of life. And it’s this life that needs to run like a thread from beginning to end to make your story feel real, and, thus, hook the reader. Hopefully, at this stage, if you’ve been following the previous lessons’ writing exercises, you should have some well-fleshed out characters and a strong setting that now just need some structure, plotting, and a narrative arc.

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Elizabeth Dawber

English literature & creative writing grad | MWC semi-finalist | Former editor @ The Startup | I write about this thing called life | Human | Pen for hire |🇬🇧