Thursday, July 28, 2011

And the Plot Thickens ...

Developing a good plot is the basis of writing a good book and there are so many methods out there that will help. Some people are plotters – they have to know exactly where they are going as they write their books. Others are pantsers – they fly by the seat-of-their-pants, writing the story as they go. Most folks are a combination thereof – developing a basic outline and filling in as they go. Because most agents, editors, contests, etc. require a synopsis, it's always a good idea to have some sort of plot in mind. 

Here are some links that have helped me:
  1. Snowflake Method - by Randy Ingermanson. a little time-consuming, but perfect if you are a plotter.
  2. Plot Skeleton - bare-bones (pun intended) method based on a workshop given by Dr. Angela Hunt at the Blue Ridge Novelist's Retreat.
  3. The Hero's Journey - first introduced by Joseph Campbell, it's the basis for many books, movies, etc. 
  4. Three Act Structure - by none other than the late Stephen J. Cannell. The article relates specifically to screen-writing, but it can be adapted to a novel.
  5. Five Act Structure - a variation of the above, also called Dramatic Structure. Here's another article.
  6. Plot & Structure - not a site, but a book by James Scott Bell. And it's wonderful! Explains numbers 3 through 5 of this list in addition to Jim's own variation of the Five Act Structure. If you can't afford the book yet, check out this article by Jim: Solid Structure
Or, if you like books, here are some great ones to try:
Plot & Structure: (Techniques And Exercises For Crafting A Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish) (Write Great Fiction)Writing Fiction For DummiesThe Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work (Joseph Campbell Works)Elements of Fiction Writing - Scene & StructureWriting the Breakout Novel

Here's some links to charts and graphs, if you're a visual person like me, that may help:
Three- and Five-Act Structure


You can also Google "plot structure" and get plenty of other images and sites. Amazon also offers books and software programs to help you as you write the next great novel.

What kinds of methods, websites or programs have you used to plot your work?

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