If you’re a writer of fiction in any form and you’ve hit a creative dry-spell, are having difficulty starting a story, or already have some idea for a character, setting, theme, etc. but find yourself coming up short in actually producing a plot, check out The Plot Scenario Generator on the Archetype writing blog. “This generator provides you with the event that gets the story rolling and a secondary conflict to keep you going!” And, of course, if you don’t like the generated plot, simply refresh the page and there’s a new one. This site is a scaled-down, more general version of The Brainstormer.
As with any formula, this won’t work for every writer in every context. What this site does, however, is creates a starting point for a story in medias res; and that might be the initial charge that your story needs. If you could do with the structure of a formula, there are other tools that buttress nicely with The Plot Scenario Generator. Anne Lamott talks about the ABDCE formula in her excellent book on writing, Bird by Bird:
“Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending. You begin with action that is compelling enough to draw us in, make us want to know more. Background is where you let us see and know who these people are, how they’ve come together, what was going on before the opening of the story. Then you develop these people, so that we learn what they care most about. The plot—the drama, the actions, the tension—will grow out of that. You move them along until everything comes together in the climax, after which things are different for the main characters, different in some real way.”
The Plot Scenario Generator can start you off with some action if you’re a sufficiently modern writer thoroughly encumbered by the tendency toward interiors. However, this generator probably won’t dictate plot in a short story, but if you have already developed some characters and want to see how they tackle certain problems (i.e., plot as deepening the reader’s/writer’s understanding of character), this would be a great way to test/convey your characters in meaningful ways. You could treat these discoveries as exercises, but I would take John Gardner’s advice and treat every text you write as a potential story rather than an exercise.
And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll write something of worth that’s revered by critics and loved by the masses. Something like Firecracker (1981) in which “Femme fatale martial arts expert teaches the mafia a lesson”.
Dream big, fellow traveler.