5 Methods of Plotting

Plotting is a mystery to many writers. There are many ways you can go about it, and more than discussed in this post, but here are 5 methods of plotting you can use.

1. Save the Cat

This method comes from the book “Save the Cat! Writes a Novel” by Jessica Brody. It’s great resource to learn about plotting.

The structure follows a series of plot points, divided into 3 acts.

The first act is meant as an introduction to the main character’s world and the theme of the novel, as well as the catalyst, or what drives the story to go to act 2. The second act is the middle—it’s why readers picked up the book in the first place. It ends with a false victory or loss, which propels it into the third act. In act 3, readers are taken into the story’s final events: the final. The characters triumph (or fail) and the structure ends with a final image.

This plot structure is very detailed and in-depth, but it can get predictable. You don’t have to include all of the plot points for it to still be a good story and it’s a flexible option.

To learn more about the structure, read Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody.

2. The Snowflake Method

This method is more simple than the Save the Cat method.

It starts with writing a short sentence on the main premise of your novel. Then, add more details and expand it into a paragraph, adding characters too. After that you can add even more detail, even lines of dialogue, to write a multi-page synopsis.

This method is good if you’re less of a visual learner and can understand the basics of your story through paragraphs. You can format it in different ways, so it’s easy to customize.

3. 7-point

The 7-point story structure is incredibly similar to the Save the Cat method, just less detailed.

As stated by its name, it has seven plot points: the hook, the inciting incident, a moment of pressure/stress, the midpoint, a defeat, a narrow victory, and a conclusion.

Source: “A Definitive Guide to the Seven-Point Story Structure” on ArtofNarrative.com

It’s a good mix between complex and simple, and is easy to write a lot or write a little when plotting.

4. Plot Pyramid

This is probably the most simple plot structure you can have.

It begins with an exposition, where the characters and background information is introduced. An inciting incident leads the upward angle of the plot: the rising action. It comes to a climax at the point of the pyramid, a turning point for the story. The pyramid goes back down with the falling action, where the major conflict is slowly unraveled, and ends with a resolution and finally an ending that ties up the loose ends.

This plot structure is perfect if you’re not a huge fan of plotting and just want to get it over with but still have some sense of where your story is going.

5. The Hero’s Journey

Finally, this plotting method is most common in fantasy or adventure stories. One of the most popular examples is The Hobbit.

It begins with a call to adventure, which gets the story going. The main character, at the beginning, refuses to go, but when they meet a mentor they sulkily agree. From there, they reach a point of no return.

The second act is filled with adventure, tests, and enemies. The protagonist will fail but learn from their mistakes, often with the help of a new character. After their constant losses, they’ve gained a new set of abilities they hadn’t had before. They have a fantastic revelation and realize that they’re fighting for a good cause, and change from who they were at the beginning. There is often a large battle or showdown at this point, where the hero triumphs and receives some sort of trophy. Finally, they return back home with a new set of ideas and appreciation for what they’ve learned.

Source: “Hero’s journey” on Wikipedia.com

This is a great structure if you’re writing a fantasy adventure story, as it includes all of the key elements.

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