Monday, July 13, 2009

How I Plot a Book by Susan May Warren

Please welcome guest writer and writing teacher, Susan May Warren to discuss plotting.

I am often asked: When you plot your stories do you plot the spiritual journey, then overlay the general plot?

Here’s a quick overview of how I plot (and how I teach others to plot in From the Inside…Out: discover, create and publish the novelist in you).

My plotting is more organic than structured. I think it’s easier to start with the inside, and work outward when developing a character.

So, I start with an identity of a character, and then I ask him/myself why he calls himself this…and I keep asking why until I get down to a couple foundational thoughts:

1. What lies has he believed have brought him to the place he is today?
2. What are his values?
3. What does he most want in life, and why?

Answering those questions usually brings me to some spiritual vacancy my h/hn has in his life. From there, I try and determine what verse/scripture will set him free from that lie. (sometimes that comes as I’m writing the book – I often write a tandem Bible study for personal use as I’m writing the book, and this helps me discover the truth pertinent to my character).

I then overlay the emotional and physical plot to see how they will trigger or deepen his spiritual issues. Generally, plotting for me is like weaving together the three threads, and I work with all three at the same time.

Want to know more? Join us at Blog-a-Book discussion and write a book online with the My Book Therapy Voices! See how a book comes together, and add your voice!

God bless you on your writing journey!
Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.


  1. this interview was great and I would love to win one of her books.


  2. Thanks for reading, Edna. Unfortunately, we aren't running a contest with this post. But Susie may be running one on her Scribbles blog for some of her books. It's worth a look. Check out her website and link to her blog from there. :)

    All the best,


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