Common Types Of Short Story Plots You Should Know

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Are you ready to take your short story writing to the next level? One way to do that is by understanding the common types of short story plots that have been used time and time again. Knowing these plots can help you craft a story that is both familiar and unique, as you put your own spin on a tried-and-true formula.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most common types of short story plots that you should know. From the classic ‘Man vs. Nature’ plot to the intriguing ‘Mystery and Suspense’ plot, each plot type has its own unique characteristics that will help you create a memorable story.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer looking to brush up on your skills or a beginner just starting out, read on to learn more about the different types of short story plots that you can use in your writing.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding common types of short story plots can help writers craft a unique story.
  • The Man vs. Nature plot involves a person battling against natural disasters and survival challenges, often alone and reliant on their own skills and instincts.
  • The Man vs. Society plot pits the protagonist against oppressive societal structures and norms, creating conflict and tension in the plot.
  • The Coming of Age plot follows the protagonist’s journey to maturity and personal growth, including overcoming personal obstacles, facing fears and doubts, and learning to trust their intuition.

Man vs. Nature’ Plot

If you’re into stories where a person battles against the forces of nature, then you’ll love the ‘Man vs. Nature’ plot! This type of story usually involves survival challenges and the main character’s fight against natural disasters.

These stories can be intense and harrowing, as the protagonist struggles to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges that nature throws their way. In a ‘Man vs. Nature’ story, the main character is often alone or isolated, forced to rely on their own skills and instincts to survive.

They may face extreme weather conditions, dangerous animals, or other natural phenomena that threaten their very existence. These stories can be both exciting and terrifying, as the reader wonders whether the protagonist will be able to make it out alive.

If you’re looking for a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat, then a ‘Man vs. Nature’ plot is definitely worth checking out!

Man vs. Society’ Plot

You’re about to explore the ‘Man vs. Society’ plot, where the protagonist is pitted against oppressive structures of society.

In this plot, the protagonist’s goals are often at odds with the norms and expectations of the society they inhabit.

As the protagonist struggles for freedom, they face obstacles such as discrimination, injustice, and the pressure to conform.

Get ready to dive into the complexities of this plot and see how the protagonist fights against the system.

portraying a man vs. society plot character
Portraying a man vs. society plot character

Protagonist vs. Oppressive Structures of Society

When the protagonist is pitted against oppressive structures of society, they must navigate a complex web of power dynamics and societal expectations.

The protagonist’s fight against injustice, societal norms, and expectations can make for a gripping short story plot. In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, the protagonist Offred is forced to navigate a dystopian society that oppresses women and enforces strict gender roles. She’s stripped of her identity and forced to conform to the oppressive regime, but she continues to resist and search for a way out.

In these types of short stories, the protagonist’s fight against oppressive societal structures can serve as a commentary on real-world issues such as gender inequality, racism, and classism. Through the protagonist’s struggle, readers can gain insight into the ways in which societal structures can limit individual freedom and perpetuate injustice.

These stories can be both thought-provoking and entertaining, making them a popular choice for readers who crave innovation and new perspectives.

Protagonist’s Goals in Society

The protagonist’s motivation and goals in society are crucial elements in shaping the plot of a short story. Whether it’s the desire for power, love, or acceptance, the protagonist’s inner drive can create a compelling narrative that captures the reader’s attention.

However, societal pressures can often hinder the protagonist’s progress, creating conflict and tension that drives the story forward. As the protagonist navigates through the societal structures, their motivations and goals are constantly tested by external influences. The expectations of their family, peers, and society as a whole can create obstacles that must be overcome.

It’s through these struggles that the protagonist learns about themselves and grows as a character. In short stories, the protagonist’s goals and desires are often the driving force behind the plot, making their journey engaging and relatable to the reader.

Protagonist’s Struggle for Freedom

Imagine being trapped in a world where your every move is controlled, and your only hope for a better life is to fight for your freedom. The protagonist’s struggle for freedom is a common theme in short stories, and it speaks to the universal desire for autonomy and self-determination.

This theme can take many forms, from a character fighting against a totalitarian government to one struggling against societal expectations and norms. The protagonist’s journey towards freedom is often fraught with obstacles, which they must overcome to achieve their goal.

These obstacles can be external, such as physical barriers or oppressive systems, or internal, such as self-doubt or fear. Overcoming these obstacles, however, is what makes the protagonist’s struggle for freedom so compelling. It highlights the strength and resilience of the human spirit and reminds us that no matter how insurmountable the challenge, we have the power to overcome it.

Coming of Age’ Plot

Hey, you! Are you ready for a journey of self-discovery? The ‘Coming of Age’ plot is all about the protagonist’s journey to maturity, as they navigate the challenges of growing up and coming into their own.

Along the way, they experience personal growth and learn valuable lessons that shape who they become.

Get ready to join the protagonist on their transformative path to adulthood!

Protagonist’s Journey to Maturity

As a protagonist embarks on their journey to maturity, they undergo a transformation that feels larger than life, like a rollercoaster ride with twists and turns that leave you breathless. This journey isn’t just about growing up but also about discovering oneself. The protagonist must overcome personal obstacles, face their fears and doubts, and learn to trust their intuition.

portraying a journey to maturity plot
Portraying a journey to maturity plot

Here are four key elements of the protagonist’s journey to maturity:

  1. The Call to Adventure: The protagonist’s presented with a challenge or opportunity that’ll change their life forever. This can come in many forms, such as a mentor figure, a personal crisis, or a new environment.
  2. The Road of Trials: The protagonist faces a series of obstacles that test their strength, courage, and resolve. These trials can be physical, emotional, or spiritual and may push the protagonist to their limits.
  3. The Moment of Truth: The protagonist must confront their deepest fears and make a difficult choice that’ll determine their fate. This moment can be a turning point in the story and often involves a sacrifice or a risk.
  4. The Return Home: The protagonist returns to their ordinary life, but they’re forever changed by their journey. They’ve gained wisdom, maturity, and a new perspective on life. The protagonist may also inspire others to embark on their own self-discovery journey.

Protagonist’s Personal Growth

Congratulations! You’ve learned about the protagonist’s journey to maturity, but there’s more to explore. You’re about to discover how the protagonist’s personal growth shapes the narrative of the story.

In this type of short story plot, the protagonist’s internal conflicts take center stage. You’ll witness how the character development paves the way for the narrative’s progression.

This type of story often explores how the protagonist’s struggles and personal growth affect their relationships with others. As the character develops, their perceptions, values, and beliefs may change, leading to new conflicts and challenges.

This type of story can be emotional and thought-provoking, as you watch the protagonist navigate through their personal struggles and emerge as a changed person. So, are you ready to dive deeper into the protagonist’s personal growth?

Lessons Learned Along the Way

You can’t help but feel a sense of empathy as you witness the protagonist’s struggles and the valuable lessons they learn along the way.

As the story unfolds, the protagonist faces numerous obstacles that seem insurmountable at first. However, they gradually find their inner strength and determination to push through and overcome these challenges.

Through their journey, the protagonist learns important life lessons that not only shape their character but also strike a chord with readers. They learn the power of perseverance, the importance of self-belief, and the value of hard work.

These lessons resonate with readers and inspire them to take on their own challenges with renewed vigor and hope. Ultimately, the protagonist’s struggles and triumphs leave a lasting impact on readers, reminding them of the power of the human spirit to overcome even the toughest of obstacles.

Love and Romance’ Plot

Hey there! Let’s dive into the world of love and romance plot. As the protagonist embarks on their romantic journey, they’ll face many obstacles and challenges that’ll put their love to the test.

But fear not, for through these trials, they’ll learn valuable lessons about love and themselves that’ll shape their future relationships.

Get ready for a rollercoaster of emotions as we explore this classic plotline!

portraying a scene in a romance plot
Portraying a scene in a romance plot

Protagonist’s Romantic Journey

Ah, nothing quite captures the heart like a good ol’ protagonist’s romantic journey.

It’s a classic tale of boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, and boy faces romantic conflicts to win the heart of his love interest. The protagonist’s journey is not always an easy one, especially when love triangles come into play.

The audience is often left at the edge of their seat, wondering who the protagonist will choose in the end.

The journey is not just about finding love, but also about self-discovery. The protagonist learns about their own desires, flaws, and strengths through their romantic journey. They may face challenges that force them to confront their own insecurities and grow as a person.

In the end, the protagonist emerges stronger and more self-aware, ready to face whatever challenges life throws their way.

So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride as the protagonist navigates their way through the ups and downs of love.

Obstacles and Challenges in Romance

You’ve followed the protagonist’s romantic journey closely, rooting for them every step of the way. But a great love story isn’t complete without some obstacles and challenges, right? After all, it’s the trials and tribulations that make the happy ending all the sweeter.

So, let’s talk about navigating boundaries and cultural differences in romance. When two people from different backgrounds come together, it’s inevitable that they’ll encounter some obstacles. Maybe they have different beliefs, traditions, or even languages. But instead of letting those differences tear them apart, the couple must learn to navigate them. This can mean compromising, finding common ground, and respecting each other’s cultures. It might not always be easy, but it’s worth it for love.

Here are some examples of obstacles and challenges that couples might face in a romance:

  • Language barriers: One person might be more fluent in the other’s language, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
  • Family disapproval: If the couple comes from different cultures, their families might not approve of the relationship.
  • Different expectations: Each person might have different ideas about what a romantic relationship should look like. For example, one person might prioritize independence while the other values togetherness.

Lessons Learned About Love

Love’s Lessons Learned Lie in Life’s Labyrinth. Finding true love is not easy, and sometimes it takes a few heartbreaks and missteps to finally get it right.

But along the way, you learn valuable lessons about what love really means. One of the most important lessons is that love is not about finding someone who completes you, but about finding someone who accepts you for who you are.

True love is not about changing yourself to fit someone else’s expectations, but about embracing your flaws and imperfections and finding someone who loves you just the same. Another lesson is that love is not always easy, and that relationships take work.

It’s not just about the good times, but about how you handle the tough times together. And perhaps the most important lesson of all is that love is worth the risk.

It may not always work out, but the journey to finding true love is one that will teach you more about yourself and the world around you than anything else.

Mystery and Suspense’ Plot

The Mystery and Suspense plot leaves readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. This type of storyline involves a complex web of clues, hidden motives, and unexpected twists that keep readers guessing until the very end.

Portraying a mystery scene in a short story
Portraying a mystery scene in a short story

To create an effective Mystery and Suspense plot, writers must use a variety of techniques to build tension and keep their readers engaged. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Foreshadowing: By dropping subtle hints and clues throughout the story, writers can create a sense of unease and anticipation in their readers. Foreshadowing can be used to hint at the identity of the culprit, the outcome of a particular event, or even the fate of a character.
  • Red herrings: These are false clues or misleading information that can throw readers off the trail of the real culprit. By incorporating red herrings into their plot, writers can make their readers doubt their own conclusions and keep them guessing until the very end.
  • Cliffhangers: These are moments of high tension or suspense that leave readers hanging, wondering what will happen next. By ending a chapter or scene on a cliffhanger, writers can keep their readers engaged and eager to find out what happens next.
  • Unreliable narrators: These are characters whose version of events may not be entirely truthful or accurate. By using an unreliable narrator, writers can create a sense of uncertainty and doubt in their readers, making them question everything they think they know about the story.

By using these techniques and more, writers can create a gripping Mystery and Suspense plot that will keep their readers engaged and on the edge of their seats until the very end.


So there you have it, the five most common types of short story plots that you should know. Each one offers its own unique elements and challenges, but they all have the potential to captivate and entertain your readers.

Whether you choose to write about man vs. nature, man vs. society, coming of age, love and romance, or mystery and suspense, remember to keep your readers engaged by creating dynamic characters, unique settings, and unexpected plot twists.

With these tools at your disposal, you’re sure to create a short story that’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience.

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Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories. She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.