How to Write a Good Plot

The plot is the masterpiece of a novel. It’s the hidden scaffolding on which a writer builds his palce. So how do you make a good one?

What the masters wrote: You must of heard of Joseph Campbell’s archetypes. Go through this link to understand more about typical protagonist situations that have been repeated for time immemorial. Any plot runs on these lines- whether the hero accepts the challenge or refuses to; whether he goes on an adventure; whether he succeeds or fails.

Plot Structure: Every conventional plot has a beginning, middle and end. So when you write your story you should have an idea about where your story begins and how it ends. If you know this in the beginning, you can move it around too. There are no hard and fast rules as long as you have control over your material. The Shakespearean drama followed a typical five act plan-

  • Exposition: The introduction to the tale and characters.
  • Rising action: Complications ( like death or a simple misunderstanding) arise for the characters.
  • Climax: The showdown. The characters face opposition.
  • Falling action: What happens after the climax.
  • Resolution: The end of the story where problems are resolved. If the story is a tragic one, it is called a catastrophe; there is no resolution in sight.

Plot outline/skeleton:   Using the plot structure described above,  you can write basic foundation of the story that you probably shouldn’t deviate too much from while writing. What made you want to write the book in the first place? The character faces some obstacle and must get out of it. How? This is what the plot describes. If you are clear with this, the rest of the writing becomes easier.

Filling the plot: You may have a one-line story but that’s not enough. You have to fill in the story with meaningful details. Here is where location, greater theme, characters and dialogue come in. They help flesh out the plot and bring it to life.

Subplots: You don’t create the narrative arc of just one character or situation. If you are writing a novel there will be additional characters and situations. You will need to create an arc for all of these. The arcs should meet somewhere so that they bring value to the primary plot in the book and hold all the layers together.

Some reference links:


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