I have an English high school exam in five days in which I will be given 2-3 prompts e.g. A story which includes the sentence, "I could not not believe when my neighbour walked right past me" or a story in which an interview plays an important part or something like that for a short story writing (350-500 words) and I have to choose one. I get around 50-55 minutes to plan, write and proofread the short story. How can I develop a plot in 5 minutes?
You're being given a prompt, so that will do half the work for you.
I think it was J. Michael Straczynski, writer of Bablyon 5, who wrote that one could sum up "conflict" in three questions:
- What does the character want?
- What will the character do to get it?
- What will someone do to stop the character?
So you take your prompt (John needs to find a flat in an expensive area of London. Describe your favorite childhood memory. There's a hungry cat on your porch.) and apply the three questions to it.
- John needs a flat. [Want] He'll look online and through newspaper ads. [Do] But his current flatmate doesn't want him to move out, so he'll delete voicemails from prospective landlords and otherwise sabotage his efforts.[Thwart]
- My favorite childhood memory was getting ice cream at the fair. [Want] I had to share it with my sister, [Do] and she wanted to hog the whole thing, [Thwart] but my mom stopped her.
- The cat sat on my porch, meowing occasionally and looking hopeful. My mom said "No more cats!" [Thwart] but really, was I going to let a cat starve to death on my porch? [Want: to feed the cat] Of course not. [Do: feed the cat]