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How to Plot a Novel

There are several way to plot a novel but this is one method that should help authors, whatever fiction genre you write and whatever their level of experience.


Often when an author is planning a novel they already have an idea or thread of ideas in mind. However, the whole story is rarely fully fleshed out so it may be useful to work out some additional ideas. Authors have different way of doing this and it is important to find which method of sparking ideas works best for you.


You may want to use an ideas generator on line or brainstorm alone or at a writing group. Being part of a writing group is always a useful way of honing your writing skills and keeping them sharp. If there is not a writing group in your area, your could start one or join one on line. It is definitely worth having a safe space to share your work.



Of course a novel is a long and complicated piece of writing and so it is important that the original ideas or thread of ideas is interesting enough and complex enough to sustain the novel all the way to the end.


There are various ways of ensuring the novel remains interesting to the end. One of these methods is known as the snowflake method, by which the author starts with an idea and then adds to this little by little developing the plot and the characters that carry that to a satisfactory conclusion.


Every novel, whatever the genre, requires a plausible conflict at its heart. An interesting conflict always anchors your story and it will also allow the author to focus on the progression of the storyline.



As the author, you also need to consider which structure to use for your novel. The structure most commonly used is the Three Act Structure. This method allows you to produce a story with a pleasing shape and satisfying arc for the reader.


The three-act structure is a model used in narrative fiction that divides a story into three parts (acts), often called the Exposition, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. The Exposition allows for the setup of the conflict and the introduction of characters and setting. The Confrontation houses the climax of the book which is when the protagonist faces their biggest challenge, and the stakes are raised. And the Resolution The resolution ends of the story. This could be a victory for the protagonist or even a defeat.


Interesting novels are not linear in construction. Good sub-plots fill out a story and make your novel more interesting and a more fulfilling read for your readers. Often sub-plots are character specific, in order to create plausible sub-plots make sure all your characters are well-rounded because their back stories could be important to the sub-plots you write. Your should weave the subplots through your main story, they can also help advance the action in your book.



It makes sense to create a detailed out line of your story. This will make it easier to ensure the main thread of your book and the sub-plots weave together seamlessly. In your outline you are able to catalogue the main story as well as all the individual plot points if you make it comprehensive enough that someone who has no knowledge of your story could look at the outline and piece together the events. They should be able to identify your acts of your three act structure.


When you think about good books, you will notice that they include a logical series of events that progress from one to the other. To ensure that your book grips the reader, make sure that your scenes are anchored in the story by something that preceded them.

The plot should progress forward because of tangible story elements like a character’s motivation or actions that propel your story. If you look at your story arc as a sequence of events, there should be a logical progression where one scene triggers the next and pushes the action forward.


To that extent, make sure you have created viable character arcs and back stories for your main characters and important secondary characters. You should know their motivations before your start writing and make them clear to your readers.



Part of building good characters is creating a strong point of view which is credible for your reader. Your characters should be strong, realistic, and nuanced.


Last but not least, when you have written a detailed outline, make sure you tie up any loose ends and fill any plot holes that have arisen. Even if you are writing a series, give your reader the satisfaction of a completed story in each book.


Above all, enjoy your writing and the stories you create and share with the world.





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