Posted by: nancycurteman | July 7, 2010

8 Important Steps That Will Guarantee a Great Plot

Simply put, plot is all the events in a story. It is a sequence of structured events that move the story forward to final resolution. A good understanding of plotting can make the difference between a ho-hum story and a fabulous novel. Here are 8 basic steps to good plotting:
  1. Before you begin plotting your novel, you need to know what happened to your characters during their lives before the beginning of your story. This is important because as your characters move through the story, you will keep dropping bits of information about their past and how that past motivates their behaviors.
  2. Reveal your plot through setting, character actions and reactions, well-written dialog and realistic settings.
  3. Your story should begin with an event that seriously impacts the main character’s inner or outer world. Often this event will be life changing.
  4. The event must drive your character to set a goal. The goal may be to find the vicious killer or get the money back the gigolo stole from his mother or to master Mount Kilimanjaro even though one leg was amputated. You must define the goal.
  5. Now throw up all kinds of obstacles that interfere with your character achieving the goal. This is conflict.
  6. Next build tension. As soon as your protagonist surmounts one obstacle, another one looms. The obstacles you insert should become increasingly more difficult, building toward one major climactic scene.
  7. The climax needs to be as powerful as possible, but it also needs to be a believable ending to your story. Provide a sequence of events that motivates or precipitates actions or occurrences that lead to the climax. Drop reasonable hints and clues that will come back to the reader at the climax of the story.
  8. Just before the story ends it is usually necessary to tie up any loose strings of plot and sub-plots.  A sentence about life after the story is often appropriate in the denouement.
    So simply put, plot is all the events in a story.  The plotting itself is a bit more complex.
    photo: shinyshiny


  1. Thaks for all the good ideas. 🙂


  2. Good stuff, Nancy!


  3. Great post, Nancy!

    I’m going to send you an e-mail with a couple additional comments.


  4. Never seen it better put. Thanks.


  5. Thanks for all the positive comments.


  6. Thanks for this Nancy, it’s good to have these guidelines.


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