Quick Plotting Exercise #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Quick Plotting Exercise

Here’s a quick plotting exercise that shouldn’t take long and will give you a bare bones idea of what you want your book to be. Think of it as a map an early explorer made of a new territory. Vast areas of the unknown are left off, all the peaks and valleys aren’t named, but you can identify major places.

plotting exercise

Take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle. Label one side protagonist and the other antagonist, or hero and heroine. List the following questions and fill in brief answers. Turn off your internal editor, and don’t worry about punctuation, spelling or the “right” answer.

  • What is he in the process of doing (his ordinary world)?
  • What is his greatest strength?
  • What is his character flaw?
  • What event happens to upset his world? (call to action)
  • What goal is created by this new complication?
  • Is the external goal tied to an internal goal?
  • List two to three obstacles that prevent him from obtaining his goal. One of these should be an internal obstacle tied to his flaw.
  • What lessons will the character learn that will lead to the growth necessary to obtain his goal?
  • How will the book end?
  • Try to distill the theme of the book into one word. Love? Betrayal? Loyalty? Control?

This is by no means a detailed, page after page outline, but it is a beginning. Writing quickly, with your internal editor turned off frees the creative half of your brain and allows ideas to bubble up.

Once you have answers to these questions, expand on each until you’re comfortable with the progress you’ve made and you’re ready to start the book.

For another quick plotting exercise, try my 19-1/2 step plotting worksheet.

Learn more about plotting your novel:

This article is one of many from The Plot Thickens:21 Ways to Plot Your Novel. If you’ve always wanted to write a book and didn’t know where to start, this book is for you!

Available for purchase on Amazon.

The Plot Thickens



This post is part of #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, a monthly event on the topic of resources and learning for authors. Feel free to hop around to the various blogs and see what you learn! Go here for the websites of all participants or use #AuthorToolboxBlogHop on Twitter.

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2 Responses to Quick Plotting Exercise #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  1. Charity Rau says:

    Great exercise! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. This is brilliant. I’m bookmarking it. So simple but at the same time accomplishes so much! Thanks, Cheryl.

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