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Every writer’s journey descends the same treacherous path: Plotting.

Even those who write by the seat of their pants must ensure their plot flows from beginning to end. They just fix it after the first draft.

Plotting is a delicate dance of piecing together fragments of imagination, a process as exciting as it is painstaking.

Because hiding in the shadows of this creative endeavor are pitfalls, ready to ambush your story and leave your readers questioning the escape from reality you promised.

Today, we’re navigating the seven deadliest sins of plotting and with each sin, we’ll unlock how to confront and avoid these narrative traps. You’ll get seven ChatGPT fiction writing prompts to both analyze your favorite stories and to improve your own.

Now let’s get into it.

Sin 1: Ineffective Beginnings and Endings

Your story’s first hello and last goodbye carry more weight than you’d imagine.

They either draw your readers in or shove them away, even when the core story is mesmerizing. So how do you avoid this sin?

Create an opening that sparks curiosity.

The key is to stimulate curiosity and create a “knowledge gap” that your reader will crave to fill.

As for endings, consider them your story’s final echo. They must resolve the main conflict, yet reverberate with lingering questions, emotions, or contemplations.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“As an expert literary critic, dissect the beginning and ending of my favorite narrative, [Insert your favorite story, film, or novel]. Identify the techniques the author or screenwriter employed to attract and sustain reader interest. Elaborate on how these methods could be repurposed to amplify the effectiveness of the beginnings and endings in my own stories.”

Sin 2: Poor Plot Structure

A weak plot structure reduces your story to a sequence of events lacking rhythm or purpose.

So how can you nail this?


Like an architect drafts a blueprint before construction, sketch your narrative. It doesn’t mean detailing every scene, you can just mark the milestones.

But beware, don’t let the plan crush your creativity.

Think of it as a guiding path, not a fenced corridor. Feel free to take scenic detours and mix plotting with writing by the seat of your pants.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Step into the role of a seasoned plot analyst. Dissect the three-act structure of my favorite narrative, [Insert your favorite story, film, or novel]. Identify the pivotal plot points, key milestone events, turning points, that give momentum to the narrative. How are they distributed throughout the story? How do they contribute to a sense of progression or escalation? Considering this analysis, provide insights on how I can better place and develop key plot milestones in my own stories to enhance narrative momentum and reader engagement.”

Sin 3: Unmotivated Characters

A story thrives on the heartbeat of its characters. If their motivations aren’t clear or compelling, the narrative loses momentum.

So how do you avoid this transgression?

A plot shouldn’t happen to characters; characters should happen to the plot. It’s their decisions and actions, driven by strong motivations, that should propel your story forward.

Creating characters with potent desires not only makes them more relatable, but it also pushes them to make choices that create a dynamic, character-driven narrative.

Whether it’s for love, ambition, revenge, or fear, ensure each character’s central motivation is clear and strong enough to drive them to take tangible actions, and by extension, drive your plot.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Step into the shoes of a character psychologist. Evaluate the main characters of my favorite narrative, [Insert your favorite story, film, or novel]. Identify not only their primary desires and motivations but also their hidden fears and secret aspirations. Discuss how these elements intertwine and drive their decisions, thereby pushing the plot forward. How do their motivations clash, creating conflict and tension? Reflecting on these complexities, provide a detailed strategy on how I can weave richly-motivated protagonists and antagonists into my own stories, thereby creating a compelling, character-driven plot.”

Sin 4: Insufficient Conflict or Low Stakes

What drives a story forward?


What keeps readers on the edge?


However, conflicts and stakes shouldn’t be random; they need to be tied to your characters’ motivations. Your readers must believe that the characters have something valuable at risk and understand the profound implications if their desires aren’t met.

Avoid this sin by defining your conflicts and stakes around the struggles your characters face in pursuit of their goals. But these elements are not merely about external occurrences.

Consider a detective’s mission that centers on unravelling a complex crime. Here, the conflict extends beyond the crime itself. It encompasses the web of deceit obstructing the detective’s path towards justice, and the potential for more devastating crimes if the suspect remains at large.

In another scenario, the objective might be to save a town from a corrupt mayor. This quest is more than a simple civic duty; it’s a deeply personal battle to protect the protagonist’s family and to preserve the peace and integrity of their hometown.

The stakes must have a direct impact on the characters’ motivations, and every conflict should test their determination to reach their goals. Ensure the potential consequences of not achieving their desires are deeply personal and significant, raising the tension with every setback and win.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Adopt the role of a seasoned conflict architect. Dissect my favorite narrative, [Insert your favorite story, film, or novel]. Identify the fundamental conflicts that thwart the characters’ goals and the high stakes associated with these objectives. How do these elements intricately connect to the characters’ motivations, thereby enhancing reader engagement? Reflecting on these complexities, provide a detailed strategy on how I can craft a captivating narrative with intense conflicts and stakes rooted deeply in my characters’ motivations.”

Sin 5: Overuse of Clichés and Tropes

Every story dips into the well of clichés and tropes—it’s nearly impossible not to.

These familiar elements can be helpful tools in shaping your narrative. But apply carefully, because over-reliance on these worn-out elements can render your plot akin to a reheated dinner—uninspiring and monotonous.

Avoid falling into this common trap by challenging the stereotypes and plot devices we’ve all seen before.

Instead of rehashing them, put an innovative spin on them, or better yet, carve out your own unique narrative elements. Or take tropes from one genre and apply them to your different genre.

Instead of the ‘Chosen One’ trope, where a prophecy outlines the hero’s destiny, flip it around. Your protagonist could be ‘The Chosen One’ because of a misinterpretation, or it’s a title they have to continually fight for, not just receive once and for all.

Take the ‘Damsel in Distress’ cliché. What if the ‘damsel’ isn’t really in distress, but is actually the mastermind villain, and her ‘distress’ is part of a larger, cunning plan?

The thrill of the new and unexpected is what keeps readers coming back for more.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Step into the shoes of a story genre innovator. Evaluate the common clichés and tropes found in my favorite genre [Insert your favorite genre here]. How do these tropes typically influence the narrative? Can you envision a refreshing or unexpected take on these familiar elements that could enhance their intrigue and impact? Use these insights to create a list of innovative spins on classic clichés and tropes inside this genre. Then, construct a brief outline for a new story within my favorite genre, using one or more of these revamped tropes. Make it a narrative that pushes the boundaries of convention and surprises readers with its originality.”

Sin 6: Unbalanced Narrative Elements

A captivating plot strikes the perfect balance between action, dialogue, and description.

Over-reliance on one aspect distorts the narrative rhythm, leading to disengaged readers.

To sidestep this pitfall, treat your story like a musical composition. Each element has its unique note—action propels the plot forward, dialogue builds character dynamics, and description immerses readers into your story’s world.

Striking a balance is essential because nonstop action can exhaust, too much dialogue can stagnate, and overbearing descriptions can overwhelm.

Monitor the ebb and flow of your story. Spread tension-filled action with reflective dialogue, driven home by vivid descriptions that bring your world to life. This creates dynamic pacing, ensuring your narrative remains captivating throughout.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Step into the role of a narrative maestro. Analyze my favorite narrative, [Insert your favorite story, film, or novel], for its harmony between action, dialogue, and description. Identify areas where one element overshadows the others and observe the author’s techniques for maintaining balance. Drawing from these insights, devise strategies to orchestrate a balanced narrative that I can apply to my own story.”

Sin 7: Neglecting Continuity and Overlooking Plot Holes

Nothing disrupts a reader’s enjoyment quite like stumbling into a plot hole or a continuity error.

They’re like unexpected potholes on a smooth road, jarring and disruptive.

To prevent this, consider your story as a finely-tuned machine—every gear, every cog must interlock seamlessly. From character histories to event timelines, every detail should consistently serve your plot, characters, and themes.

Avoid introducing new subplots or story elements after the second act, and ensure all main threads are neatly tied up by the story’s end.

It’s also crucial to maintain internal logic. If your narrative defies the rules established in your world, readers will notice and their suspension of disbelief could collapse.

ChatGPT Fiction Writing Prompt:

“Wear the hat of a narrative detective. Scrutinize my current story in development as detailed here, [Insert your story summary or any core story details you have so far], for any inconsistencies or plot holes. Be extremely critical in your assessment. How do these impact the overall story? What strategies could I use to maintain continuity? Based on these observations, propose methods to meticulously maintain continuity and prevent plot holes in my story.”


Dodging these seven deadly sins of plotting can dramatically elevate your storytelling.

But crafting a plot is a delicate balancing act of excitement, intrigue, and continuity.

So remember it takes time for you to grow as a writer, but your relentless pursuit to master the creation of compelling narratives will engage your readers from start to finish.

Write on.

That’s it for this Saturday.

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See ya next week!

— Dave