Story Prompts & Plot Generators for Struggling Writers and Newbie Wrimos

It’s a new year and we have a whole new round of NaNoWriMo sessions ready to help us write all the words! The first of which, Camp NaNoWriMo, starts in only a few weeks on April 1st.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is technically in November, but there are two slightly more casual ‘Camp NaNoWriMo’ sessions that run in April and July. Anyway, as you might be able to tell from the name, it’s a whole month dedicated to writing a novel – specifically fifty thousand words of one. That works out to about 1,667 words every day for thirty days, which is also a lot harder than it sounds.

Anyway, more than once I have found turning to writing prompts and story generators really helpful for triggering new ideas and getting myself unstuck when I’m writing a story. It can bring some much-needed randomness (and I mean that quite literally), to a story that feels predictable, or one that you’ve just grown tired with.

With that in mind, I did a little digging all over the internet to pull up what I think are some of the best plot generators for writers. Whether you jump into Camp NaNo with no story at all or you find yourself stuck in the middle of April, July or November, hopefully some of these story prompts will get you back in the groove.

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Satisfying Conclusions & the Problem of Endings

I’ve seen a lot of endings this year. The end of Game of Thrones finally aired after 8 years. The first major arc of the MCU came to a close with Avengers Endgame and 22 movies over 11 years. And I finally got around to playing Kingdom Hearts 3, which wrapped up a series of 7 core games spanning 17 years. In less than a week the final entry in the Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker, will hit theatres. As we wrap up a decade, many franchises I’ve been super invested in are wrapping up as well.

And that leads me to today’s discussion. Maybe because I’ve seen so many this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about endings, the weight we put on them and the culture we’ve built around them. We live in a content-rich society, and I think that has both its benefits and its drawbacks.

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5 Tropes I Can’t Stand

A couple of weeks ago I shared some of my favourite tropes – the sort of things that make me want to watch a movie or read a book. This week I decided to do the reverse – the tropes that pull me out of a story or make me likely to put it down and never pick it back up. The sorts of tropes that can really ruin an experience.

For obvious reasons, I’m not going to call out any books or movies that are guilty of this. Many of these are common enough, that I’ve no doubt you can think of a few that have one or several of the tropes I’m about to mention. I’m not here to spill any tea.

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What is the Difference Between Fantasy and Science Fiction?

In theory, it should seem pretty obvious. Science Fiction is spaceships and aliens, and fantasy is all about magic and wizards and medieval kingdoms. This very limited view has a very recognizable visual.

But then you have something like Star Wars. With futuristic weaponry, space battles and all sorts of unusual species. At first glance, it would appear very science fiction. But is it? You also have the weird woo-woo that is the Force, and an order of powered people protecting the balance between good and evil. And a dark empire to boot. Add to that, there is nothing intrinsically scientific or speculative about any of the movies. They never explore how the Death Star functions. They don’t explore the concept of war in space, at least not on a very deep level. The stormtroopers, while their visual is iconic, fail on a practical level. It has the look of science fiction while borrowing tropes and concepts from fantasy.

And when you get right down to it, the genres have a lot in common. They frequently involve unusual, sometimes impossible elements, whether that be magic or technology. All stories have an implicit ‘what if’ to them, but it’s even more present in fantasy and science fiction, which usually have some hook to their ‘what if’, like what if dragons were real? What if we could download our consciousness onto the internet? This is where the term speculative fiction came from – a way of categorizing those stories that use elements that don’t exist in the real world as part of their set up. The author is speculating about what sort of a world might exist, whether it’s Earth or some fictional world.

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5 Tropes that Never Get Old

We consume a lot of media. Some would say too much. But with such an abundance of movies, games and books, there are bound to be a few tropes that you get tired of.

ALAS! This post is not about that. It’s about my FAVOURITE tropes. The ones that, no matter how many times I’m exposed to them (which as a gamer and SFF geek can be pretty often), I never get sick of them. These are tropes that encourage me to read that book or play a game, rather than turn me away. And by nature of my interests they also happen to feature fairly prominently in the SFF genres.

But they’re still fun and I will always adore them. Here we go!

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