Plotting the novel

Every book must have diversity in plot, writing style and viewpoint, or we would read one of the same book over and over again. I would like to talk about plotting, because that is the most interesting part of the book.


Usually the planning process of a plot development is based on a pattern that goes in a tristep with beginning/escalation/culmination and that is what we get when the book is being simplified. Now, the escalation is the center of the plot where we can show our best by adding problems for the hero to solve. The more big of a problem our hero overcomes, the bigger the hero is, but that is not completely true. It is far better that hero gets a wave after a wave of semi-difficult tasks before he is introduced with the grand problem and plot driving final event that is portrayed in the culmination of the novel. To add subplots is to add these semi-difficult problems where writer can show the growth of the hero in what is supposed to become at the end of the novel. It seems I am speaking the obvious, but it couldn’t hurt to mention it one more time.

In order to show what I meant by this, let’s take a simple plot for an example: Woman is being left by her boyfriend, she is being tormented by: her past relationships, work, chores, inner thought, and the culmination: she meets another guy and gets happily married. Seems simple enough, right? Now, lets enrich this plot by adding subplots.


Woman was cheated upon by her fiance, she goes through a rough time breaking the relationship, problems at work make her quit her job and try something else, she sells the house and travels to Europe where she starts her own firm and falls in love with cafe owner which she marries and the end. I only gave a little bit to the story, but not much. Now lets add a lot of subplots.

Woman was cheated upon by her fiance that is also her boss and makes her life a living hell, she is emotionally broken because she sees her replacement constantly coming and going at the boss’s office and pompously shoving her the impossible and degrading tasks. She tries to quit her job, but her ex fiance is not letting that happen for her. She then flees the city and comes to live in a cabin outside of the metropolis she worked in. She meets the lumberjack living in close vicinity and forms a friendship with the joyful guy, but there is something wrong about him. He is gay, so she will find no love there. Friendship with the lumberjack brought her newfound courage to do what she wants, so she decides to sell her house in the city and go to Europe. She always wanted to see Spain, so she slams the table as she gets on her feet and leaves the cabin. Due to some political confusion, she ends up in the middle of civil war that is raging across Spain. Because she is horrified by the images of children getting hurt and total lack of care for the young ones, she decides to join the medical staff and patrol the streets, helping the wounded spaniards. She is not interested in politics, only in helping others, so this kindness is noticed by two soldiers on the opposite sides. Now there is war among these two for her love and she finds herself in a problem once again. War takes one of the contestants, the other is severely injured with no chances of making a family with her. She still decides to be with him and they get married.


Now this is something different from the initial plot pattern, right? It’s all about how elastic the plot is and what sort of a twist you add to the story. Both contestants could be killed, lumberjack couldn’t be gay in the first place, Spain can be Russia, or England, or even a different country in a different continent like Africa, Asia, South America, it’s up to you.

If we speak genres, this plot could easily be turned into romantic comedy, heavy action drama, science fiction, psychological horror, or anything you like. So my advice is, keep fantasizing about untold stories, a swift plot twists. Bring dynamics to your plot, give it some wild dreams and let it flow. Make it elastic, different, NEW. Your readers will appreciate that.



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19 thoughts on “Plotting the novel

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