Content Proofreading, Editing, Writing, Language

Lucy Cripps

Raclette afficionado

Plotting a book

A combined mission this week: to gather ideas for Daoud’s book and to work out how to plot both books. In my hunt for ways to structure a book (part of MA homework!), I found this cracking video explaining how to use storyboards to organise plot.

I also thought it may be useful to add the approaches I’ve found and thought to come at all the stories you might want to tell in your fiction or creative nonfiction.

If you think of any more, please let me know.

Approaches to novel structure

  1. Purely chronological: follow the story chronologically with no deviances
  2. Chronological with flashbacks/flashforwards to build story/character
  3. Follow individual characters/themes and converge them at the end of the book
  4. Stream of consciousness, with little apparent planning, just letting the pen flow
  5. Thematically led
  6. Writing as diary entries, or using formats that aren’t typical for your genre
  7. Flicking between viewpoints/plots of a number of characters
  8. Retrospective: build the plot from the end and start at the beginning
  9. Campbell’s 12-stage universal story structure (Hero’s Journey/monomyth)
  10. As a ‘diamond’ [list_style1]

Think of the “shape” of your book as a simple diamond. The question that your book answers is at the top point; the support for the answer is in the wide part in the middle; and the answer is the bottom point.

Think of each chapter in the same way–and then, each subchapter.

Start with the question. Add the questions that need to be answered to answer the bigger question. Then conclude with the answer. Do this at each level.


  1. From A – Z

  2. As a collections of unconnected essays

  3. Gustav Freytag considered plot a narrative structure that__ divided a story into five parts__, like the five acts of a play. These parts are: exposition (of the situation); rising action (through conflict); climax (or turning point); falling action; and resolution.

  4. Using a three-act, five part ‘W’ storyboard

  5. Foster-Harris, said that plot is the working-out of an emotional problem caused by two conflicting emotions being felt by the same person (the main character. The basic elements of plot (Story) can be understood quite simply as Character, Conflict, Complication, Crisis-Climax, and Resolution. Change is an important element but it is inherent the actions proper.

  6. Following a real-world structure (birthday to birthday, event to event, the running of an event/sports/theatre season, seasons of the year,

  7. A pincer movement as past and future events move to converge at the climax.

  8. Each chapter ends on a question that needs to be answered in the next chapter.

  9. Circle: opening and closing a chapter with the same event and fill the middle of the chapter with emotional development from a range of experiences/thoughts.

  10. A discussion between two periods of time/characters about a theme

  11. The ‘fairytale format cited by Jurgen Wolff go to pdf p 104, and actual page 95

Approaches to writing/planning Lessons on structure/plotting Sign method: Closet-cleaning approach The Snowflake Method Plot blog Table of contents

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