With these plotting techniques nothing will stand in the way of your book project in the new year.

The best plotting techniques.

The start of a new year is similar to finding the right structure for your book: When setting goals, one needs a plan. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry also held this opinion. ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish’, says the author of ‘The Little Prince’. Not for nothing: Before and during his illustrious career as an author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a trained pilot. Without a destination in mind an airplane will lose its fuel mid-flight or end up somewhere, where it was never meant to land.

This metaphor perfectly encapsulates, how a book project without a blueprint progresses. That’s why a well thought out plan is half the journey. Some authors don’t plot because they fear that it will limit their creativity. And that might work for novellas or short stories. However, bigger book projects are nearly impossible without the right plotting techniques. Bestsellers like ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ would not have been feasible, had their authors merely relied on jotting down their spontaneous ideas. A plot is essential, if you plan to write a complex work of fiction. Furthermore, a plot adds dimensions and heft to your story, which therefore improves its literary quality. A nice side-effect is that the meticulous structuring of a story into acts creates intermediate chapters with intermediate goals. And intermediate goals are an important stepping stone for writing ambitiously and keeping your motivation going until the very end.

As you can see, there are many arguments in favour of plotting. Therefore, we here at novum publishing are presenting you with two plotting techniques and writing prompts to kindle your organisational talent as well as help you to discover the joy of structuring.

What is a plot? An overview of plotting techniques

A plot is based upon on the so-called premise, or central message of a book. Essentially, the plot is made up of a beginning, the main part and the ending. Each of these elements contains smaller units like chapters, scenes and twists. And for each of those elements there are other parts that need to be considered such as character, perspective and setting. There are however more specific ways of structuring one’s book than following the basic three-act-structure.

The Five-Act-Model

  • Introduction: Presentation of characters, settings, atmospheres, situations, time and place, as well as the first vestiges of a conflict.
  • Rising Action: The conflict gains traction. Pace increases. The protagonists either keep or lose control of what’s happening.
  • Climax: The plot reaches its climax; the conflict opens up and reveals itself in concrete events. The protagonists deal with the hand they are dealt. An important change occurs.
  • Falling Action: The protagonist suffers a setback. Temporarily the outlook grows dim. The plot is artificially delayed. Suspense is evoked.
  • Resolution: The conflict is resolved and the main message of the book is clearly articulated. The ending shows either the triumph or failure of the protagonists.

The 7-Point-Story Structure

  • Hook: Presentation of characters, settings, atmospheres, situations, time and place as well as the first vestiges of a conflict.
  • Plot turn 1: A dramatic event leads to a turn in the plot.
  • Pinch point 1: The protagonist is forced to step out of their comfort zone and must act.
  • Midpoint: The protagonist must face their conflict.
  • Pinch point 2: Something doesn’t work out. The situation seems dire.
  • Plot point 2: A surprising event, which the readers did not anticipate, leads to a complete U-turn.
  • Resolution: The conflict is resolved and the main message of the book is clearly articulated. The ending shows either the triumph or failure of the protagonists.

To keep your plot structure easy to follow, we recommend six free writing programs in the following article.

Writing prompts: Plotting for beginners

For beginners the process of plotting might seem alienating. To take off some of the pressure, it’s easiest to start plotting out completely made-up tales. Think about a three-act or five-act-structure for the following prompts. Which resolutions, turns and surprises do you have in store?

  • Journey and return home
  • Hoping to win the big prize
  • Loss and restoration
  • The blessing turns into a curse
  • Phoenix from the ashes
  • The ugly duckling

Sketch your blue print with colourful pens and write down everything, which comes to you spontaneously. Ideally, at the end of the prompt you will have an actual idea for a book project. If you have reservations, try to map out the plot structure of books which you are currently reading, or have read in the past. Learn from those who came before you and you’ll realize that plotting does not only promise success, but is also heaps of fun!