To plot or not to plot?

Plot or wing it?

Now, usually you’ll hear me spout some nonsense “Write it how it needs to be written” or “what works for me won’t work for you”. However, in this one instance, I believe that one side produces better written work. (No, this is not aimed at anyone, I’m not calling anyone out.)

Without plot, stories fall flat. Most people don’t have the vision to hold an entire plot map in their heads. I mean, that is a lot of information, especially when you have subplots.

Now, how you plot, that is the real question.

I’m a fan of the eight point plot arc. It really helps me. Will it help you? Who knows? Try it.

I can hear you now. “Don’t tell me what to do– that eight point plot arc looks cool!”

I’m not telling you what to do, or that your way is wrong, just that, as writers we need to learn and grow all the time. Try new things, branch out, surprise yourself.

By failing to plan, you’re planning to fail. 

Even if your plan is a fistful of notes in crayon on a bar napkin, you’re still ahead of the guy who says “Ima write a novel now.”


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6 Responses to To plot or not to plot?

  1. Excellent article. The eight point plot arc got my WIP from “almost ready” to “ready”. 😀

  2. Angela says:

    I’m yet to find a “method” that works for me when it comes to plotting. The best I’ve been able to find is writing out a couple of pages with the major plot points tacked together with a few lines that pass for sentences.

    I have recently discovered how useful OneNote is for planning and keeping track of a plot, characters, etc.

    I have to agree, however, that not having any plot planned out is a recipe for disaster for me.

  3. Justine Hedman says:

    I have to agree here. Plotting is essential for me. I don’t think I could write a novel without a nice, detailed, outline for my story. I’ve never gone through with the eight-point plotting system, but I might try it sometime. It’s all about knowing where your story needs to go, how to get there, and the major twists and turns your characters need to take.

    I not only tend to write outlines, but I have so much back story for my fantasy, it’s hard to decide what’s important enough to put in, and what can be left out. I get to the point where I want to use it all, but know there’s just not enough room. It’s good to know the back-story of a world, but not necessarily a good idea to make your readers feel like they’re sitting through a history lesson. (I have those moments, and I’m working hard to strike them from the novel)

    Sometimes it’s nice to let the characters run, so to speak, but when I do, I have to watch them carefully. I’ll end up with a whole conversation that won’t move the story forward. I find that when I hit these patches, it can be a good idea for me to put an outline to the chapter too. Plotting where the story needs to go, what information needs to be put into the chapter, and where I want them to be by the end. Sometimes, the story seems to simply write itself. It’s all about the tools and how we make use of them.

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