ARM and LEGS of a Story

Do you have an ARM or the LEGS of a story?

This weekend I’m supposed to be plotting the outline of my novel for class, but of course, I got distracted. I saw my cousin on Friday and we started talking about books (WHAT ELSE WOULD WE TALK ABOUT?!)

She’s only twelve years old. She reads mostly YA novels, but she’s also stuck in that in between age where she’s too old for the kiddie books, but too young for the novels with drugs and sex (or at least, we’re trying to keep her from those for as long as possible).

Me: Ok, I want you to make a list of what you like to read or what you WANT to read. Can you have it for me by next week?

Her: Oh, well, the kids at school. Well, not the boys, but the girls, they like to read about …romance.

Me: Yeah! Cuz of the whole Vampire-Werewolf-Twilight craze! But, a romance can be a small part of the story. What else do you guys like to read about?

This conversation, coupled with a thought that popped into my head while reading Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones last week, produced a (further) thought out YA Paranormal. As I was thinking and plotting and screaming and tearing my hair out, I was making a list of what (I think) should be included in the plot that would interest not only girls, but also boys.

Accidently, while making my list, I wrote my components in a way that ended up being the acronym ARM. What is ARM, you ask?


Yeah, that’s an ARM.

Then, I decided to be silly and thought: What if I don’t want an ARM? What if I want sturdy (or spindly, whatever’s your preference) LEGS to stands on?


Now, you have LEGS!

What is Adventure/Excitement?

Plot points that move the story along. Something in your novel that pulls the reader in and keeps them reading. Maybe it’s a sparkly vampire trying not to eat the girl he’s in love with, maybe it’s weird fish-like alien people tracking down kids and sequentially killing the, or even a regular kid pulled into a magical world where an super-powerful snake-talking guy is trying to kill him!

What’s Romance/Love?

This one is easy, yet complicated. Easy because everyone has a general idea about what they like or what boy/girl they like. But, it’s complicated because there isn’t a concrete definition to love. I dare you to go outside and ask three different people what they consider “romance” or “love” to be, and I guarantee you’ll get three completely different answers.

The best advice I can give for this one is: consider your own preferences, ask others about theirs, and read novels with romance in them or Romance novels.

What is Mystery/Grand Scheme?

This is connected to your adventure. There’s something that the character doesn’t know that either puts them in danger or causes them to seek an answer. Maybe it’s the mystery of one’s future, the mystery of where the next meal is coming from, or the grand scheme of teenagers coming together and fighting each other to the death.

An adventure has a mystery that can lead to a romance. Or not. Depends how you write your novel.

All the stories I ADORE have ARM or if you prefer LEGS and I’m going to try to include them in my story(ies). Added bonus: Handy-Dandy acronym to remember!

Now, I’m a little excited about this plot. I spent the whole night and half of the morning plotting, outlining, and coming up with rules for my “world”. Five pages of notes so far and I’ve only detailed one of the creatures!! I’m off to write some more…or possibly do some homework!!


Things I used as examples (in order of appearance):  Twilight, I AM NUMBER FOUR, Harry Potter, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Tyrell, and The Hunger Games.

Don’t forget to visit LTWF! They have a list of places to donate to help the people in Japan! :

2 thoughts on “ARM and LEGS of a Story

  1. I couldn’t NOT read this post , based on that title. Those are awesome acronyms! Very clever. You should write a book. 😉 I especially needed this tonight, as I sit and try to write my paranormal. Thank you!!

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