It really isn't too hard to come up with a plot for a story. There are ideas everywhere you look. As Michael Banks explains ideas are "free...and easy." He says, "Just about anything we see, hear, read, or experience can spark an idea."
The main events that make up short stories and novels are called the plot. It would be difficult to have an interesting story about characters that are just standing around. There has to be something to motivate them, some problem for them to solve or some obstacle for them to overcome. Many authors argue that great stories and novels are character driven. Alex Keegan has an interesting perspective on this in his plotting article. He uses an analogy where he is the general and his character Jack is the platoon leader.
If you have some great characters that you are fond of but you are having trouble thinking of an adventure or situation to put them than a plot generator might help. Plot generators will randomly generate many plot ideas for you. You can use them by modifying them to make them unique so the plot can work with your characters. A plot generator may also help you to start thinking creatively again.
Here are some useful plot generators:
- Plot-Generator.org.uk - This plot generator features plots for short stories, plot twists, fairytales and more. Use the Story Ideas option if you want a quick random story idea. Some of the other options have more involved forms. You can fill the form with random ideas to speed it up.
- Big Huge Thesaurus Plot Generator - Big Huge Thesaurus says its plot generator will generator over 5.1 million possible plot ideas. They range from plausible to zany fantasy/sf plot. A couple we generated include "A corrupt politician must return money stolen from the mob" and "Brothers struggle to survive against zombies at the circus."
- RanGen Plot Generator - RanGen has a plot generator that includes toggles for genre (action, fantasy and romance). RanGen generates a plot for you after you select the genre and hit the generate button.
- Springhole Plot Generators - You will a couple dozen plot generators on this site including generators for horror plots, romance plots, mysterious findings for mystery plots and more.
- Seventh Sanctum - Seventh Sanctum has several fun and interesting generators that can be used for plot and story ideas. They include generators called Quick Story Ideas, Punk Genre Generator, Romance Stories generator, Plot Twists, Symbolitron and more. Each one generators multiple ideas at a time.
- Chaotic Shiny - Chaotic Shiny offers a number of writing and gaming generators. For writers there is a Story Arc generator, Prophecy generator, Situation generator, the Mashup Masher and several other tools.
- WritingExercises Plot Generator - This plot generator creates some quick plot ideas for you. If you click just the Situation button you will get interesting basic situations like "someone is wrongly accused of a crime" and "something precious has been lost."
- TV Tropes Story Generator - The TV Tropes generator will give you a setting, plot, narrative device, hero, villain and other story components.
- Rory's Story Cubes - This is not an online generator. It is a physical story generator that uses a set of nine six-sided dice. Collectively the dice contain a total of 54 different images. It is a game but it can also be used for individual creative inspiration.
- The Amazing Story Generator - This is a spiral-bound flipbook that can be used to create thousand of plot ideas. The book is made so you randomly select three different parts of the story. It is like a book version of a plot generator program.
- Writing Prompts - Plot generators are good for story writing inspiration. You can also use writing prompts to help you brainstorm a good plot idea. You may be surprised at how many ideas you can come up with just by using a prompt.