Plot Design

A Series of Essential Events

The main plot is a thread of crucial events that comprise the narrative of what occurs within the story. Characters, plot, and theme influence each other.

  • Characters are the who
  • Plot is the what
  • Theme is the why
  • Structure is the how

Story Structure

Readers expect stories to unfold based on pre-established expectations gained over a lifetime of reading books and watching films.

The plot follows a logical series of events sequenced by structure. To explore other structure models, visit the Books on Writing resources page.

Intertwining Characters, Plot, and Theme

Given the mixture of characters, plot, and theme within structure, the unique design of Scrivener allows you to zoom from details to big-picture and back. As you write, consider these questions:

  • Characters:
    • Is it clear who is the main character?
    • Will readers relate to this character despite her flaws?
    • Is the lead pursuing a difficult goal, one that if achieved, will solve the story’s central problem?
    • Is it clear who (or what) opposes the lead’s efforts to resolve the story problem, and what will happen if unsuccessful?
  • Plot:
    • Do events take place early that create tension, causing readers to engage as their concerns increase for the lead character?
    • Do the events create a story problem that captures readers’ attention?
    • Does something dramatic happen to the lead character within the novel’s first page or two?
    • Do the emotion-laced events in the initial scenes encourage readers to bond with the lead character, experiencing her emotions?
    • Are the stakes becoming clear to both the lead character and readers?
    • Do the lead’s efforts focus on solving one escalating problem she can’t avoid and balance the mixture of narrative and action?
    • Does the lead’s pursuit of a difficult goal create conflicts and tension?
  • Theme:
    • What does the lead character need to hear, but she doesn’t want to listen to her most trusted friend or mentor?
    • Do the challenges and conflicts of pursuing that goal convey the meaning and emotional weight based on how they affect the lead?
    • Do the lead’s choices represent one or more dilemmas, ever increasing the story’s tension?
    • Does the lead’s pursuit of goal identify an inner issue to be resolved prior in order to solve the story problem?
    • Does the lead resist the need to change, but as the story progresses, ultimately sees things differently?
    • Will readers learn something from the lead’s struggle that goes beyond entertainment, helping them to deal with real-life issues?
    • At the end of the story, does the success or failure of solving the story problem highlight how the lead has changed?
  • Structure:
    • Does the lead’s backstory trickle out over multiple pages instead of an information-dump?
    • Do the scenes show what the lead character needs to know about self?
    • Do the scenes allow the characters to show rather than tell the story?
    • Do the stakes show the lead faces risks that adversely influence her physically, professionally, and psychologically?

The ability of Scrivener to record Custom Metadata allows you to capture and track answers to the above questions. This post provides an example.

Technology Is Your Weapon

Ideas are a dime-a-dozen. A premise worthy of writing a full-length novel is priceless. To advance from an intriguing idea to published novel requires several steps.

At first, the effort to hone an intriguing idea feels like play, but after writing a few scenes, the project feels out of control.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Your cute kitten of a story turned into an unruly beast of a project. And that’s when you need to tame your book. Adopt a proven method to finish your novel.

For example, Scrivener can serve as your one-stop tool to record questions and track answers.

Validate the Market before You Write

Keep in mind how the seductive lure of a shining new premise can entice you to write before validating whether anyone wants to read your story.

With the right technology, you can determine whether to go forward or search for an idea with more market appeal.

There’s nothing worse than hearing only silence after publishing a book. While there are no guarantees that a validated market will lead to sales, I encourage you to determine whether your story fits within the sweet spot.

Tame that unruly beast with technology. Validate your story idea with Publisher Rocket and use Scrivener to manage your writing projects.