So, you’ve got a great plotline. What’s next?

Maybe you have a story and want to get it published. Or maybe you have heard everyone has a story in them and want to start writing yours. Either way, you've probably heard some of the following myths about authorship:

  • It's said J.R.R. Tolkien was not sure what was going to happen next as he wrote The Lord of the Rings.
  • E.L. James supposedly wrote Fifty Shades of Grey as a fan-fiction of her favourite fantasy novel, Twilight.
  • Legend has it Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in a drug-filled three week fit of passion.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's short horror stories apparently came to him in nightmares.

These myths are a lot of fun and add to the mystique of the authors involved. However, they are also dangerous. They lead to the belief that all that is needed to publish a book or short story is some inspiration. One of the worst offenders is a famous poem by Charles Bukowski:

unless it comes unmasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut

don't do it…


The trouble is that truly good stories are about far more than just a good plotline. Successful writing includes character development, a build up of dramatic suspense, and celver description and exposition. Most important, fiction needs to explore big issues. The Lord of the Rings shows us why ordinary people can do extraordinary things. On the Road explores rebellion against tedious day-to-day existence. The best stories come when an author provides a resonant theme, and then explores that theme through a tense and memorable plot. Ann Leckie explains this well in an interview at the back of the sci-fi novel Ancillary Justice:

Often new writers are advised to make sure every scene is doing at least two things, but I've found that when I write short, two is too few. Every scene has to be doing as much work as it possibly can, and each sentence has to have a justification. If I can cut it, and the story remains comprehensible, then it pretty much has to go. Even if it's doing two or three things.


There are cases were natural storytellers have accidently hit on the recipe for a good story without even thinking about anything except the plot. If the legends are true, there are some examples at the top of this article. However, these cases are rare. In most cases, authors who are obsessed with their plot to the exclusion of the stories they are actually telling will not be successful.

If you are interested in developing your plots into successful stories, we offer courses and modules in Creative Writing (and eBook) at the Academy for Distance Learning.  




ADL Success Stories – Dairy Cattle Farming with Annabella Baker

Education opens doors to success windows of opportunity and in at least one case, gates to new possibilities. Such is the case with ADL success story Annabella Baker.  Originally from Italy, but now living in the UK, Annabella faced a tragedy all too familiar to many when she lost her airline job during the Covid

Read More »

Horticulture – Learn the Basics: Three Problems for New Gardeners

Gardens are hard work.  Behind every immaculate lawn and carefully tended flowerbed is a never-ending struggle between nature and gardener. Of course simply leaving the garden to its own devices isn’t really an option; Untended, plants will grow freely for the whole of spring and summer and even into autumn. Worse yet, an uncared for

Read More »

Henry Hoover’s Broken Plug

Some stories of educational achievement soar into the heavens.  Of individuals who through hard work and toil overcame the challenges in their life to achieve. Certainly, at ADL we’ve seen and helped many individuals achieve their dreams through completing a course which helped them get a place at university or begin a new career. This,

Read More »

King Charles and the Grey Goo

If you’ve been in the UK over the past weekend you might have noticed you had a day off on Monday (or looked on enviously as other people had a day off).  The coronation of a new monarch in Charles the Third means a new era. One that the Monarch is especially keen does not

Read More »

Could You Be a Personal Trainer?

If you’re looking for a side business or career that combines a love for fitness and a mentoring role. personal training might be for you Personal training is at it’s heart all about being able to help people live healthier, happier lives.  By combining physical exercise with essential lifestyle changes like diet they help their

Read More »


Scroll to Top


To speak to one of our course advisors, please enter your name and phone number below and click the "Please Call Me" button. We will call you back as soon as possible!

By submitting this form, I provide my consent to ADL to contact me via email or telephone, regarding the course I selected. All information provided is protected in conformity with our Privacy Policy.


required fields are marked with *

By submitting this form, I provide my consent to ADL to contact me via email or telephone, regarding the course I selected. All information provided is protected in conformity with our Privacy Policy.