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Testing a character’s limits to generate narrative interest.

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Characters can function plausibly while still allowing for dramatic possibility.

Characters are people under pressure. Your story needs to open up your characters to dramatic possibility while not breaching plausibility.

Lesson 15

Audio From Kim Wilkins – Plausibility And Possibility


Listen as Kim talks about how to generate more narrative interest in your story by putting characters under pressure.

Don’t forget to download the audio notes below too (available in PDF format) before you listen to this week’s lesson so you can take notes.



PDF (right click and ‘Save As’): Audio Notes – Lesson 15 – Plausibility And Possibility

Use this document to help organise your notes while listening to the ‘Plausibility and Possibility’ audio.


Below are some questions you can ask to help you generated scene ideas so you can explore the plausible and the possible.


Generating scene ideas:

– Would she could she?

– What would they do? (plausible)

– What could they do? (possible)

– What might they do?


In each scene of your novel, ask yourself:

  1. Are your characters under enough pressure?
  2. Do they have enough possibilities?
  3. Are your characters behaving plausibly?


Look at your scene lists and identify characters that aren’t working as hard as they could be and expand the scene and the character using the above questions.

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red avatar 5EXERCISE: Expanding Story Ideas

Read the story ideas below. Choose one and in the Expanding Story Ideas Forum list some ideas for what could happen next. Make sure the ideas generate dramatic possibility without challenging plausibility.

  • Horatio is a hard-hearted thief, intent on collecting enough gold pieces to buy his freedom from the Galactic Colony. While raiding the dead body of a prostitute out in Quadrant Four, he discovers a helpless newborn child. What does he do?
    • He wouldn’t instantly adopt the baby and change his ways to become the perfect dad (not plausible); he couldn’t abandon it (no dramatic possibility). So what does he do?
  • Annie is a childless sixty-year old kindy teacher who enjoys the quiet life. One day, a man she’ never seen before arrive at pick-up time and bundles one of the children quickly out of the gate. The child is crying, the man looks like a thug. What does she do?
    • She wouldn’t crash tackle him (not plausible); she couldn’t just phone the police and wait (no dramatic possibility). So what does she do?
  • Rachel is an uptight religious woman, secretly still in love with her ex-husband. One night when he comes for diner with the children, he brings a new girlfriend whom Rachel hates immediately. What does she do?
    • She wouldn’t poison the girlfriend (not plausible); she couldn’t suffer silently through the whole dinner (no dramatic possibility). So what does she do?
  • Godfrey is a hen-pecked husband who has never made a decision without his wife’s interference. Now she’s mortally sick, comatose, and in need of a heart transplant or she will die. She’s next on the donor list, but no hearts are available. What does he do?
    • He wouldn’t go straight out and murder a donor (not plausible); he couldn’t wait and hope passively (no dramatic possibility). So what does he do?

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red avatar 5EXERCISE: Expanding Your Story

Let’s liven the middle of your story. Do you need to flesh it out more? Can you generate new scene ideas?



1. Think about the middle of your own story.

· Do you need to flesh it out some more?

· Can you use the interplay between plausibility and possibility to generate new scene ideas?

2. Discuss your thoughts on the Expanding Your Story Forum. Provide some support and ideas for at least two other class members.


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