One fallacy about writing is that you need to come up with an original plot. That’s basically impossible because humanity has been around for so long that nearly every type of story has been told already. Don’t waste your time trying to be creative with a plot. Spend your time trying to be creative with how you tell your story.
Think of a house. Every house consists of walls and a roof. You can’t get more basic than that. Yet every house is different by its design, color, shape, size, and exterior landscaping. The same principle works with stories as well.
Plots are basically the same, but the way you tell that plot is where the creativity comes in. Look at movies and you’ll find similar plots but different stories. “Cinderella Man” was about an underdog boxer fighting for a championship, which is no different than “Rocky.” “Battle Royale” was a Japanese movie about school children forced to kill each other to survive, which is no different than “The Hunger Games.” Every super hero movie like “The Avengers” is no different than every James Bond movie where a super villain is trying to take over the world and the good heroes have to stop him.
What makes a story memorable isn’t the plot, but how and what the writer chooses to emphasize. “The Karate Kid” was just “Rocky” in a different disguise, but both movies are memorable because they focus less on trying to entertain us with a plot and more time getting us involved with the characters. In “Rocky,” we’re cheering an underdog boxer who wants to prove to himself and the world that he’s not a loser. In “The Karate Kid,” the hero is a kid who wants to fight back against a bully who’s making his life miserable and keeping him from the girl he likes.
What makes both “Rocky” and “The Karate Kid” memorable isn’t the plot or the hero, but also the secondary characters who grow along with the hero. In “Rocky,” two secondary characters who grow with Rocky are his girlfriend and his trainer. In “The Karate Kid,” the main secondary character who changes is the hero’s karate teacher. Secondary characters make stories unique because they echo the hero’s goal. The more unique you make your secondary characters in relation to your hero, the more unique you make your story.
If you want a fast way to plot a story, just take an existing movie that you like and change the setting, characters, and secondary characters. Take “Avatar” out of the science fiction world and you have an activist protecting the environment in today’s world. Put “Babe” in a futuristic science fiction world and you have a hero trying to survive and pursue a goal against the odds of an alien society. Take “Babe” into a historical setting and you get black maids fighting for dignity in “The Help.”
There is no original plot so don’t waste time chasing after the impossible. Creativity is applying your own theme to a stale plot in an original manner and that\’s what will make your story stand out from the others.