Ways to Plot a Novel

There are plenty of ways to plot a novel and the way each author plots is completely up to them. Every author is different with different thoughts and ways of organizing them.

The way I plot could be, and probably is completely different from the way others plot their novels.

Plotting your novel is unique and special process each author must discover for themselves. This is where one process doesn’t fit all. When deciding how to plot your novel, there are many processes to choose from.

Plot Structures:

Character – Driven

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  • Your characters are the main reason the story moves along. Their motivation and drive to complete their mission, journey or quest is what keeps the story going until the very end.
  • Your characters through decisions, actions, and the journey itself, face their deepest fears and change as a result.

Snowflake Method

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  • This one is a bit more dynamic. You begin with a statement, just one statement
  • Then split that statement into two
  • Then into four statements and so on
    • It’s best to begin with a deep theme/premise
    • Then expand it to 2-3 sentences
    • Then expand that to 4-6 sentences and so on until you get a full plan of action for your book.

The Hero’s Journey

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  • The hero’s journey is a complex set of points along which the hero travels to complete his/her journey
    • They are (but not limited to) as follows
      • The Call to Action (They begin in their know world and receive call for adventure)
      • The Denial of the Quest (They ignore the request for some reason or another)
      • Acceptance After Debate (After inner turmoil and possible debate with mentor, they agree to journey)
      • Enemies and Allies, Who’s who (Journey leads them to many types of trouble as well as friends along the way)
      • Journey to the Beast
      • Facing Demons (hero defeats bad guy but not without consequences that change the character on a deeper level)
      • Reward/Success
      • The Return Journey (They strive to atone for past mistakes)
      • Conclusion
      • Life Continues/Next Journey (Return to live out days/Continue to the next journey of life)

 

The Fichtean Curve

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  • This type of story begins immediately with rising action
  • Framework for the story is scatter throughout the first half of the story with multiple crisis following.
  • Each crisis is followed swiftly by its own mini falling and rising action.
  • At last, the story reaches its climax conflict around two-thirds of the way.
  • Leaving the remaining pages for falling action, loose ends are tied up, and a new normality is established for characters.

In Media Res (thrillers, mysteries, horror)

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  • This type of novel begins in the middle of the story, usually at the 2nd-3rd crisis, though sometimes in-between the action
  • The plot still contains an upward trajectory with storyline sprinkled throughout (The beginning of the story is often told through flashbacks or in character conversations)
  • Several more crises occur to move the story along
  • The protagonist faces the climax
  • Followed by falling action
  • Resolution.

Combinations

You can combine any or all of the above to create your own plot structure that suits your needs. It’s really up to you, how your mind works, and what would be best for you as a person and author.

Snowflake with 3 Arc Structure

  • Snowflake with structure that points to important events while connecting those events to create an amazing story

Emphasis on Inner Plot

  • This contain a list of events containing a variation of the hero’s journey
  • Emphasis is held within the inner and outer plot, relating most outer story points to acts 1&3 leaving 2 as inner plot points

Major Midpoint Change

  • This is a form of the Hero’s Journey where there is a major change at the midpoint of the story. The character faces a shift in viewpoints or active goal.

Writing in Scenes

  • Plan your novel in Scenes, but be sure to include all the major plot points necessary to create a great story with emotion, action, adventure, and more.

Visual Mapping

  • Visual graphing/outlining of plot points, events, characters, emotion, and more. A picture of your character/story’s journey throughout the tale may be exactly what you need.

Things to Keep in Mind

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  • Does the beginning set up the end? Do all parts match up?
  • Think deeper, create a story that if the reader were involved it would feel real no matter the setting or events.
  • Write your ideas down, create an outline even if you don’t follow it completely. This will help you flesh out your plot points, events, crises and more.
  • Keep the reader in mind. Catch them on an emotional level – make them laugh, make them cry, make them feel hurt when a certain event happens. Make them FEEL.

Final Words…

The way you plot your novel is completely up to you as an author. One of these ways may work for you and then again none of them may work. You must travel your own journey to discover what works best for you. 

Me, I’m still on that journey. I’ve combined some of these to suit my creative mind, but there are still tweaks that need to be made. This is my plotting journey. What’s yours?

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