The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel

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The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel

by Cheryl Sterling



There are thirty—two ways to tell a story but only one plot – things are not what they seem.

  • Jim Thompson

THE PLOT THICKENS offers you, the writer, myriad methods of plotting. Whether you are a published veteran or a writing novice, we present alternate methods of finding the best path to express and deliver the stuff pinging around in your head, driving you crazy and alienating friends and family. Okay, maybe your case isn’t so severe, but the great idea that made you sit up one day and say, “I’m going to write a book!” can’t make itself a reality without a little guided, focused help.

Do you write by the seat of your pants or outline like a crazed English teacher? We’ll examine each.

To plot or not to plot – that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the minds to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous pantsing

Or to take arms against the GMC of troubles

And, by opposing, outline them.

                        — Billy “Rough Draft” Shakespeare

Do you write around a situation or let the characters lead? We’ll look at both.

Plot and character are intertwined. Take clues from your characters, they’ll drive the story.”

—Cheryl Sterling

Is the three or four act structure your preferred method? How about centric plotting or using index cards?

If you have no idea of how to take the first step, if you can’t decide if writing is a dream come true or a nightmare (hint: sometimes it’s both), the following chapters can help you decide which method works for you.

Repeat: Which method works for you. There is no right, correct or perfect way to plot. Nor is there a wrong way, just what isn’t aligned with your best way of thinking. Sometimes, what works for one story won’t for another.

Pick what works. Ignore the rest. Explore, and most of all, enjoy.

Share. Evolve. Inspire. Write.

—Cheryl “Let’s make up stuff” Sterling

—Jack “I have an idea” Monroe



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