how to plot a novel

The five whys. Why.

The Secret of the Five Whys

The secret of the five whys is known to a few writers, but it’s such an awesome way to know your characters and thus make plotting easier, that we had to share. Feel free to pass it on.

The five whys

A long time ago, when I started writing, a friend (hey, Lisa!) would grill me on my character’s motivation. One answer was never enough for her, she had to ask and ask and ask until the character was stripped bare. Only then would she relent and let me continue telling the rest of the story.

I named her method “The Five Whys” because that was the average number of times she asked me “Why?” about the character.

Let me give you an example.

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THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

Today’s #ThrowbackThursday revisits the Three Act Structure

(Today’s post on the Three Act Structure is an excerpt from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel.)

THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies.www.cherylsterlingbooks.comTHE THREE ACT STRUCTURE is one of the most popular ways to plot a novel or screenplay. It’s the backbone of countless novels, TV shows and movies. It keeps the story moving, the reader turning pages and box offices busy. In its simplest form it consists of three parts:

  1. Beginning
  2. Middle
  3. End

Of course, much more is involved. Your daily trip to work has a beginning, middle and end. Hopefully, it’s uneventful, but boring isn’t what you want for your novel. Let’s re-label the three parts into:

  1. Setup
  2. Conflict
  3. Climax

Much more riveting, isn’t it?

Let’s look at each of these in depth.
Continue reading Three Act Structure #ThrowbackThursday

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plotting backward

PLOTTING BACKWARD

plotting backwardPlotting backward might seem counter intuitive when you’re plotting a book. After all, isn’t the object to go from front to back?

Plotting backward is a great tool for jumpstarting writer’s block. If you’re stuck and can’t push through the wall holding you back, jump to the next scene you know you can write. Work backward from that spot. What’s the next thing that has to happen before that scene? Start a list and write it down. Now, what has to happen before that scene? Add it to the list. Continue working backward until you reach the spot where you were stuck. Reorder the list. You now have a mini outline on how to write forward.

Continue reading Plotting Backward #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

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