How Stephen King solved my plot problem.


I’m in the throes of writing my fourth book.  It’s fiction but based on a trip I took to the Philippines way back in 1989 when I was a junior officer in the US Air Force.

I have a bunch of stories I want to share but here’s the rub … how do I connect them?  How do I take a bunch of – what I consider – interesting stories and connect them into a larger story; a story that flows; a story that’s captivating, a story that has a beginning, middle and end?

Well, that’s where plot comes in.  Just reach into my handy bag of plots and pull one out … voila!  – I got a story.

Only one problem, I don’t have a bag of plots.  But, I could easily get one.  I could go on a grand hunt for canned plots and then pick out a nice juicy one.  But I don’t want to do that.

Here’s why.

I just re-read Stephen King’s book On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft and he gives masterful advise on plot.  It’s the best news I’ve heard since they announced the “New Kids on the Block” were going on a reunion tour.  It’s pure genius.  Maybe that’s why Mr. King is the master story teller.

Disclaimer:  I’ve never read a Stephen King novel all the way through.  But, I’ve read enough to know he knows how to paint awesome mind pictures.  And, I’ve seen the movie Shawshank Redemption – what a compelling and creative story! So, when Stephen King talks about writing, I listen.    

Anyway, Stephen’s advice on plot is so simple, even I can understand it – even I can do it.  Here’s how he solved my plot problem.  When it comes to plot, Stephen King says …


Now those aren’t quotes but it’s what he says.  Don’t believe me?  Get his book “On Writing” and open up to Chapter 5 and start reading.  If you come up with anything different from what I’ve written above, then I’ll eat a unicorn … I mean – my hat.

Stephen goes on to say, ” … stories … pretty much make themselves.”  He argues that if you rely too much on plot your story is “apt to feel artificial and labored.”

I can follow this advice.  Plot?  What plot?

Now, my challenge is to come up with a compelling story.  But of course Stephen has a solution for that as well, ” … stories … pretty much make themselves.”  All I have to do is write and – according to Stephen – the story will appear.  No canned plot, just a nice story that’s buried deep in the ground and all I have to do – as the writer – is expose it.  He likens a writer to an archaeologist – just keep digging and the story will appear.

So, I’m off to grab my “shovel” and start looking for buried treasure – uncover a story that’s waiting to be discovered, waiting to come out and be shared with the world.  My job is not to create a canned plot, but to simply dig for the buried story that’s already there.

Want to read bits of my book as I write it?   As I go looking and digging for my story, I’ll be sharing some of my writing.  I suppose it’s a look into the creation of a book.  So, if you’d like to be updated from time to time with some of my writing snippets, I’ll add you to my mailing list.  Click here to add your email. 

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  1. Full of good advice.

    1. I appreciate your feedback Mike.

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