Today’s Writers’ Tips

Plot Number 8: The Rivalry Fiction Plot

Rivalry? Now that’s an interesting concept, especially when considering fiction plots. Rivalry…in other words COMPETITION between two characters.

I suppose the most classic example of this kind of plot would be found in the greatest book ever written: the Bible, with the conflict between God and Satan. So, let’s have a look at the characteristics that make a really good rivalry fiction story:



Two Royal Navy men boxing for charity. The modern sport was codified in England.

(Photo compliments of Wikipedia)

The Bible (God vs. Satan)

Paradise Lost

Moby Dick

Ben Hur

  1. The source of the conflict in the story should come as a result of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
  2. The nature of the rivalry should be the struggle for power between the protagonist and the antagonist.
  3. The adversaries can be equally matched.
  4. Although their strengths needn’t match exactly, one rival should have compensating strengths to match (or almost match) the other.
  5. The story should begin at the point of initial conflict, introducing the status quo before the conflict begins.
  6. Start the action, (the catalyst scene), by having the antagonist instigate against the will of the protagonist.
  7. The struggle between the rivals should be a struggle on the characters’ power curves. One is usually inversely proportional to the other: As the antagonist rises on the power curve, the protagonist falls.
  8. The antagonist should gain superiority over the protagonist in the first dramatic phase. The protagonist usually suffers the actions of the antagonist and so is usually at a disadvantage.
  9. The sides are usually clarified by the moral issues involved.
  10. The second dramatic phase reverses the protagonist’s descent on the power curve through a reversal of fortune.
  11. The antagonist is often aware of the protagonist’s empowerment.
  12. The protagonist often reaches a point of parity on the power curve before a challenge is possible.
  13. The third dramatic phase deals with the final confrontation between the rivals.
  14. At the resolution, the protagonist restores order for himself and his world.

Wow! If you ask me, this is a basket full of important characteristics you need to incorporate into your rivalry plot. But if you read some classics and see how the authors of those works handled this subgenre, I’m sure you’ll be able to crank out your own rivalry fiction plot that could become a best seller!

Next time, we’ll look at plot # 9: The Underdog

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!”)

Happy writing!



Visit the Amish of Snyder County

Louellen Finds True Love

(Volume 1 in The Loves of Snyder County Trilogy)



Amish wife Louellen Friesen questions her husband’s loyalty,

her Amish beliefs, and her own passions.

Read Full Post »

Today’s Writers’ Tip


Fiction Plots

Continuing our study of fiction plots, we’ll look at plot number 5 today: ESCAPE. We’ve all chewed our fingernails while we read books or watched movies in which the main characters were trying to escape from a prison (POW camp), an evil stepmother, or a lonely island. To us the escape seemed so obvious, we wanted to scream at the hero or heroine and tell them to just try a little harder or look a little deeper at his/her surroundings to find the way out. But the nerve-wracking suspense is what makes the writing of such books and movies so attractive to us adventure seekers.  Let’s take a look at the defining characteristics of an Escape Fiction Plot and see what makes a good one:



The Great Escape

Stalag 17



The Characteristics:

  1. The main character is confined against his/her will (often unjustly) and wants to escape.
  2. The moral argument of the plot is black and white: good versus evil.
  3. The main character, or hero, is the victim. (Remember, in the RESCUE plot, the hero saves the victim.)
  4. The first dramatic phase of the story deals with the hero’s imprisonment and any initial attempts at escape, which fail.
  5. The second dramatic phase deals with the hero’s plans for escape. These plans are almost always thwarted.
  6. The third dramatic phase deals with the actual escape.
  7. The antagonist—and it can be just the island— has control of the hero during the first two dramatic phases; the hero gains control in the last dramatic phase.

So there you have it. Consider some of the escape plots you’ve seen or read. The really good ones followed this formula to a T. If you’re planning to write an escape plot, you’ve now got the tools to make your story a nail biter too.

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!”)

I hope as you outline your fiction plots, you can better define which plot you’re developing and better understand how to incorporate many of these characteristics to improve your writing 100%.

Next time, we’ll have a look at PLOT #6: REVENGE

Happy writing!






Read Full Post »

March 12, 2018

Today’s Writers’ Tip

Fiction Plots


Truck Fire Engines Firefighters During A Fire Drill Training Royalty Free Stock Photos - 73410618

(Photo compliments of http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

Continuing our study of fiction plots, we’ll look at plot number 4 today: RESCUE.

Who hasn’t been on the edge of his seat as a child when reading books or watching movies on TV like “Snow White,” “The Secret Garden,” or “The Lone Ranger” (He was always “rescuing good guys from the bad guys!) But now as a writer, we need to analyze the clever writing technique used to create a work that keeps the viewer wanting more as the hero or heroine search and rescue some poor lost wandering soul (or sometimes an animal).

Let’s take a look at the defining characteristics of a Rescue Fiction Plot:



Snow White

The Magnificent Seven

  1. The rescue plot relies more on action than on the development of any one character.
  2. The “character triangle” should consist of a hero, a villain, and a victim.
  3. The moral argument of the rescue plot is usually black and white.
  4. The focus should be on the main character’s (hero’s) pursuit of the villain.
  5. The hero usually must contend with the villain on the villain’s turf.
  6. If there’s a heroine, she should be defined by her relationship to the villain.
  7. The villain should deprive the hero of what each believes is rightfully his/hers.
  8. The villain continually interferes with the hero’s progress.
  9. The victim is generally the weakest of the three characters and serves mainly to force the hero to confront the villain.
  10. There are three dramatic phases: separation, pursuit, and confrontation and reunion.

All information compliments of:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction in any subgenre!)

I hope as you outline your fiction plots, you can better define which plot you’re developing and better understand how to incorporate many of these characteristics to improve your writing 100%.

Next time, we’ll have a look at PLOT #5: ESCAPE

Happy writing!


Want to learn the truth about what the Amish believe?




Read Full Post »

August 14, 2017

Writers’ Tips for the Fiction Genre

TWENTY MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias http://www.amazon.com/20-Master-Plots-Build-Them/dp/1599635372/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373314000&sr=1-1  is one of the best books I’ve ever read to help understand the fiction genre and to improve my own writing. This book by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction, who desires to improve his skills for writing an appealing, can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript. All the tips in the next series of blog posts come from this book.

Today we’re going to start by reviewing the definition of plot, a plot-driven book, and a character-driven book. So if you’re been wanting to write good fiction, regardless of the age of your readership, take special note of the helpful tips in my next 20 or so blog posts.


  1. A plot is organic, the skeleton that holds the story together, the scaffold, the superstructure, the chassis, the frame, a force, a process.
  2. Every plot is different, but each has its roots in a pattern of unified behavior and action.
  3. It’s a blueprint of human behavior.
  4. It’s more than a chronicle of events. It answers WHY! (It has to be more than “Johnny hit his sister Susie.” WHY did he hit her?)
  5. TENSION fuels the plot.
  6. PLOT asks the question; the CLIMAX answers it.

DEFINITION OF A PLOT-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story that is more important than the characters. The characters are there to make the plot happen.

DEFINITION OF A CHARACTER-DRIVEN BOOK: the mechanism of the story is less important than the characters.

  1. Don’t have a STATIC character. He/she must be different at the end than he/she was in the beginning.
  2. Put your character in a SITUATION.
  3. Use TRIANGLES: the relationship between character and plot. They make the strongest character combinations and are most common. Events happen in threes. (Example: the hero tries three times to overcome an obstacle.)
  4. MOTIVATION: explaining why the major characters to what they do: ACTION VS. REACTION

So…there are some introductory tips from Ronald Tobias’s excellent book for you to ponder as you plan your work of fiction. Next time, we’ll share with you some pointers to help you write a plot that focuses on a quest or a goal the protagonist is aiming to achieve.

Happy writing!



Interested in Amish/Mennonite fiction?

Eli and Louellen Friesen’s marriage is on the rocks, and at the same time, both question their ordnung’s teachings of the way of salvation.




Read Full Post »

Meet Author/Illustrator Brenda K. Hendricks

(In her own eloquent words …)

All the world’s a football stadium. Beneath that dome, there exists four positions—spectators, cheerleaders, coaches, and players.

Brenda K. Hendricks? She sits in the grandstand filing her nails or doodling on the program. At least until a player’s shoulders slump in bewilderment. Then Brenda bounds onto the sideline. With a keyboard in one hand and a paintbrush in the other like whirling pom-poms, she “shouts” encouragement through words and paintings.

Over a hundred of her devotions have been printed in numerous periodicals and compilations. Her paintings and prints have been bought as visual reminders of God’s love.

While cheering the players to victory, Brenda notices the need for instruction and marches to the players’ bench. Keyboard clicking, brush swirling, she writes and illustrates children’s picture books. Two are currently in print. What’s the Buzz, Bumbly Bee? helps children to become all God has created them to be, despite the impossibilities. What’s Better than That, Seren Dippity? teaches children that sharing makes friends, and nothing is better than that.

Brenda continues to “blow the coach’s whistle” with an online Bible study that can be read at Two Small Fish and through words of encouragement on her blog My Quotes of Encouragement.

Currently, she is illustrating an early reader’s chapter book about the first settlers in Wisconsin, which is scheduled for publication in December. She also is writing a devotional designed for creative people entitled, A Portrait of Christ, an Artist’s Perspective and an allegory titled Tabitha Tuesday.

Although all this cheering and instructing consumes a lot of time, the ball occasionally bounces at Brenda’s feet. She sets her keyboard and brush aside, picks up her helmet, and … hops on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. Together, they sail over paved seas. While enjoying the landscape, Brenda plots her next novel, relates scripture to her adventure, and deciphers how to duplicate the cloud formation on canvas as she settles back into the position of spectator.


Wow, Brenda. A boring life is NOT what you have. You go, girl!

Be sure to visit creative Brenda at her blog sites and order her books for your young grandchildren. They’ll love them.

Happy Writing!

P.S. – I want to welcome any Amish/Mennonite fiction lovers to this site who are interested in my new series, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY. Volume 1, BACHELOR’S CHOICE, was released by Trestle Press as an e-book on July 2, and is already doing quite well. TEACHER’S PET and LOVE SONG FOR LOUELLEN are slated to be released over the next few months.

In a short time, I’ll have a page on this blog dedicated to just those who love reading the red hot Amish/Mennonite genre! I’ll discuss all things Amish and Mennonite, including their lifestyles,  PA Dutch recipes, and other trivia that will interest any reader of this genre.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: