Posted by: nancycurteman | August 2, 2013

How to Create a Plot for a Novel

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thCreating a plot for a novel is pretty simple. Implementing the plot is much more complex. The best way to describe these two processes is this. Creating a plot is analogous to constructing a bare bones skeleton. Implementing the plot is analogous to adding flesh and vital organs to the skeleton. In this post I will address creating the basic plot for a novel.  Answer the questions below and you will have your plot:

1. What does your protagonist want to achieve? Maybe he wants to solve a murder, conquer an army, save the city. The answer to this question will give you your story goal.

2. Why is this goal important to your protagonist and the other story people? What sacrifices is he willing to make to succeed? Maybe his job or reputation depends on meeting it. The answer to this question speaks to the character and purpose of your protagonist.

3. What steps must your protagonist take to achieve his goal? Investigate, seek support from other story characters, utilize technology. Now your protagonist can begin moving toward the achievement of his goal.

4. What obstacles, large and small, can you torture your protagonist with repeatedly? Enter a powerful antagonist or terrible crisis. Sprinkle annoying problems like lost eyeglasses, car trouble, a snoopy neighbor. Now the plot contains conflict and tension.

5. What side benefits will you allow your protagonist? A bit of romance. A promotion. A vacation. This provides needed respite from the tension.

6. How will the story end? In other words, will your protagonist achieve her goal or not? This provides  closure for the novel.

If you answer these question fully and in-depth, you will have a strong bare bones plot ready to be fleshed out.

More Tips:

How Subplots Enrich Your Mystery Novel
How to Murder Your Mystery Novel Plot


  1. Wonderful outline, NC. Thanks for sharing.


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