Thursday, August 23, 2012

Creating A Plot For Your Story

Have you heard the saying: Plot is a verb? Something is happening, and going to happen. "Plot is the things characters do, feel, think, or say, that make a difference to what comes afterward. It's the way of deciding what's important and then showing it to be important through the way you construct and connect the major events of your story." (Anson Dibell - Plot)

Recently I've been studying the ideas that make up plot and have discovered a blethora of ideas on how to construct a story. I'm told to make a list, or construct a literary house for my story, containing the moral of the story or backbone, defining the stakes and stating the main goal. All of this is done in the smallest part of the story, the scene.

Creating a scene with your protagonist (or main character) is the way we introduce our story to the reader. Each scene should be tight and motivated by the story's basic idea. Leave out all extraneous details that are not important to that particular scene and show, don't tell the story's action.

There is a lot of talk about showing versus telling. Since I'm not an expert and there are many examples of this already, I'll skip the explanation except to say that when you show the action, you push your story forward, whereas telling can stall the action. You can tell part of your story if need be, in exposition, when you want to add backstory or cover large amounts of time.

Creating a well rounded plot will cause your story to hang together when you keep it simple. By establishing your basic plot with your protagonist, you can then add subplots to create more tension and action. Adding subplots will cause the story to be interwoven with side glimpses at other characters and a blending together of thoughts and ideas.

Remember, plot is a verb. Keep the action rolling and your story will take off and soar! How is the plot of your story? Are you creating action in your scenes? Are you showing and not telling?


  1. Plot is a verb! Check.
    My third book has a lot of subplots - more than I anticipated - but that keeps things moving.

  2. Hi, Karen! Plot is a verb. Great reminder.