Skip to main content

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Compelled Duty

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, compel a character to perform a task.

Plot twist story prompts aren't meant for the beginning or the end of stories. Rather, they're for forcing big and small turns in the anticipated trajectory of a story. This is to make it more interesting for the readers and writers alike.

Each week, I'll provide a new prompt to help twist your story. Find last week's prompt, Resolution Made, here.

plot_twist_story_prompts_compelled_duty_robert_lee_brewer

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Compelled Duty

For today's prompt, compel a character to perform a task. And by task, I don't mean washing the dishes or taking out the trash. Like the title of this prompt, I mean the task to be more of a duty. Like leaving their loved ones to go to war or to take care of a distant relative in need. Or it could be going into a profession or marriage that's decided for them by their family.

(Sariah Wilson: Escapes and Happily-Ever-Afters.)

There are a few ways that compelled duty can impact a plot. In a romance, compelled duty is a very common way to split up two people who feel they belong together. If they do, they'll be together in the end. If not, then they both probably found someone else while they were apart. But compelled duty can help drive other stories as well.

In Dracula, Bram Stoker sends Jonathan Harker from London to Transylvania to conduct business dealings with an eccentric count and in the process puts his beloved Mina in harm's way. In many dystopian novels, compelled duty is a way of life for most of the characters involved, and it's their resistance against that force that ultimately drives the story. 

So give your character a duty to perform and see where it leads your character and story.

*****

Build Your Novel Scene by Scene

If you want to learn how to write a story, but aren’t quite ready yet to hunker down and write 10,000 words or so a week, this is the course for you. Build Your Novel Scene by Scene will offer you the impetus, the guidance, the support, and the deadline you need to finally stop talking, start writing, and, ultimately, complete that novel you always said you wanted to write.

Click to continue.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Author Sharon Maas discusses the 20-year process of writing and publishing her new historical fiction novel, The Girl from Jonestown.

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

While the writing process may be an independent venture, the literary community at large is full of writers who need and want your support as much as you need and want theirs. Here, author Aileen Weintraub shares 6 steps in becoming a good literary citizen.

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Journalist and author Daniel Paisner discusses the process of writing his new literary fiction novel, Balloon Dog.