Friday, May 11, 2012

Sharing few plot points

I am still undecided whether I am a plotter or a pantser. For my last story I had plotted in detail. At times I found it restrictive, at other times it was a blessing, as I knew I had to move within the tracks I had designed for the story.

I am in the midst of writing my current WIP, about half-blood angels and devils. Though I have a rough idea of the way the story will begin and end and also bits and pieces about its middle portion, for the major part of it I am free floating, winging it with my imagination.

Even though, at times I love being a pantser, I have certain plot points I base my story on. I am sharing these plot points with you all.

Inciting Incident. Every story has this event. The Inciting Event is responsible for throwing the protagonist headlong into the path of trouble/conflict or problem.

Plan. It’s what the Main Characters decides to do, to thwart the obstacle, to bypass the roadblocks and overcome the Antagonist. This is a course of action the MC decides upon to tackle the problem at hand.

Game. Every conflict is like a game where there is only one winner; either the protagonist or the antagonist. The result depends on who plays smartly and aggressively. The game and its rules come into play here. Who has the odds stacked against them? Who is the Dark Horse?

Changing Obstacles. These obstacles in the story keep changing, very often they grow not only in size, but also change their direction and shape. The introductory of sub - plots comes into focus here. This change of direction can get the protagonist into more trouble and make the antagonist more powerful.

Plot Twist. These curves in the path of the plot help to set the pace. Many times plot twists happen when new characters arrive or the old ones wave a goodbye.
Sometimes even the unexpected actions of few trusted characters bring about a twist in the plot.

Dark Moment. This is the moment when the Main Character is left completely alone. He or she has to now trek the route to victory only on the sheer strength of his or her own efforts. External help may or may not come. But the war started has to be waged and the battle fought.

Epiphany. The moment of Epiphany brings about an illumination. It’s the moment when things fall in place and the path ahead is clear as though someone has showed the protagonist a roadmap complete with detailed directions. A light bulb literally lights up.

New Plan. With the moment of Epiphany a new course of action is charted, new plans made. Once again there is a change of speed.

Cliffhanger. The Cliffhanger sees the execution of the new plan/s. Will they bear fruit? Will the protagonist fall flat? Will the antagonist win because of the protagonist’s foolishness. It’s the moment that adds tension.

Climax. The final battle is fought. The protagonist is all set to do or die, while the antagonist is all ready to kill or be killed.

Ending. Where perfect resolutions find their true place and the loose ends are tied together. 

When I start  plotting, I base the outline of the story on these  plot points. I feel it helps me sum up the entire story and still gives me the freedom to deviate if I want to.

What about you all?Are you all plotters or pantsers or like me in between? How do you plot your stories? Is there any secret to plotting your stories? We all would love to get familiar with your individual processes, as I am sure we can learn a lot from it.


  1. Like always, an insightful post, Rachna:)

  2. I have to create outlines or my story would wander off and never return. The fifteen points from Save the Cat help me the most.

  3. Thanks for sharing these plot points.
    Whenever I pop in to your place, I always feel a sense of empowerment after reading your posts...

  4. I find myself somewhere in between the two. For the current WIP, I've been more of a pantster, but I am writing it with someone too, so that has made a difference to some degree. I like to plan things in my life in general, so being a pantster almost surprises me. But it's working just fine, and it's good for me to learn to be more flexible. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Great list, Rachna. I think I'm a combination. When I start a book, I'm sort of a panster: A character will grab me, and a problem, and I go where it leads, although I have a vague idea of how it's going to end. (Though sometimes I don't, until I'm about halfway through.) Toward the end of the book I seem to turn into a plotter: "If this happened, then what had to happen earlier?" That's about the point I start start analyzing it for plot twists, mounting tension, etc., because by then I "sorta know" what has to happen before the end. And then the revision begins with all kinds of checkpoints to get it right. And more revisions. Because so much about the characters deepens in later drafts, and that's all tied up with plot as well.

  6. @ Rahul, thanks. Hope the post will help you plot your book :)

    @ Alex, I too have rough outlines, otherwise my story like yours will stray and disappear from the path it has to follow. I need to check out Save the Cat.

    @ Michelle, thanks for your warm words. I am just sharing what I am learning and absorbing in my writing life.

    @ Karen, I too like to plan things in my life and the fact that I enjoy being a panster is not just surprising me but shocking me.

    @ Elizabeth, for my current WIP, I am following a path similar to yours. As I am writing, I am asking myself questions about the plot and character motivation. I am sure these questions will get more and more serious during the subsequent drafts and help me strengthen the plot.

  7. Like yourself I'm between, although I do start with a basic outline or idea.

    And writing those dark moments are fun. You have to do this as it allows for more conflict and opens the door for twists and turns in the plot.

  8. Think we are all a bit of each, Rachna. I plot in great detail and then a twist pops into my head and I have to follow it. But I don't think this would have been an easy process if I hadn't a map to follow in the first place.

  9. You cover the ground well and lay out the options, but I doubt the problem (if that's what it is) will ever be resolved. I am definitely a free floater.

  10. Very good summary for story structure. I plot. I plot my plots.
    I know what has to happen in each scene, but when I'm writing it, I might get one or two little surprises.
    I also do some free writing about my WIP but then if I find something good in there, I plot out how to fit it in. I like my stories to have a lot of structure :)
    Wagging Tales

  11. Excellent post, Rachna! Love this. :) Thanks for sharing.

  12. Love the way you describe plot points, Rachna. You cover it all so well! Like others, I'm a mix--general plotting while listening to my characters to see what unexpected developments they'll throw at me :-)

  13. I'm a plotter. I went to a workshop with Michael Hauge this weekend on plotting. It's going to change how I've been doing things. It was an amazing workshop. :D

  14. welcome back Rachna! Were you on a break? I hope you had a good one, if so.

  15. I suspect I'm someone who needs a basic plot and world structure for the first draft - just enough to push me through those tough moments. Then I switch gears and let the characters take over on the rewrites when I have the basic story structure either written, or I have firm ideas of where I (or they) want to deviate.

  16. Pantsying has never been successful for me, as my writing just completely dries up by chapter 3. So now I am trying hard to plot. I think plotters are allowed to pantsy within their framework otherwise their work wouldn't be imaginative and original. Good luck with your WIP.

  17. Great points, Rachna.

    I'm a definite plotter. Ever since my professor at university taught me how I've plotted and never looked back.