Plotting Triple-O Method Writing Exercise

Use the Triple-O method to create a plot “skeleton” for some of your story ideas.  Good places to start would be the clipping/idea file you’ve been building all throughout this workshop and the Character Profile Sheets.  For each story idea, start with a clean sheet of paper (or new computer document) and try to describe each of the three “O’s”: Objective, Obstacles and Outcome.  This also would be a good time to try to come up with some possible titles for these story ideas. (Jot down as many appropriate titles for each idea as you think of, even if you don’t think they’re exactly right. Coming up with good titles is often a process of trial and error.)

If you’re having trouble applying the Triple-O method to your story ideas, it just may be that you need a little more practice. As Nanovic suggests later in his Writer’s Yearbook article, a good way to do that is to work the process in reverse–start with a published story and see if you can identify the three O’s. After you’ve reduced a number of completed stories to their essence in this way, you should be comfortable applying the method to your own undeveloped ideas.

Of course, if you feel you have a good understanding of the Triple-O method, but are still unable to apply it to a particular idea, it probably means that idea needs a little more thought—perhaps you haven’t given the character a real problem to solve or put a strong enough obstacle in his path to make the story interesting. That’s why the Triple-O method is so useful: It allows you to test your ideas before you spend a lot of time writing a story that isn’t “there” yet. If you find ideas in your file that don’t contain all of the O’s, don’t discard them; make whatever notes you can at this point and then re-file them. Sometimes an idea just needs a little time to ferment before it’s ready to become a story.


This creative exercise came from the course Getting Started in Writing

Do you have an aptitude for writing that you’ve never had a chance to develop? Perhaps you write memos and reports for work, but yearn to try something more creative. In this workshop, you will explore your writing interests and discover your personal aptitudes for writing. You will be introduced to a wide variety of categories of writing, and learn basic techniques to improve your narrative skills.

You will learn:

  • The fundamentals of grammar and mechanics
  • Using description and sensory detail to enhance your writing
  • How the principles of creative writing apply to both fiction and nonfiction
  • The types of short nonfiction, including fillers, research articles, personal experience articles, how-to articles, books, and memoirs
  • The different categories (genres) of fiction, and the various fiction forms, including short stories, short-short stories, novellas, and novels
  • The importance of revising and rewriting

Learn More About Getting Started in Writing Today!