I’m a big believer in templates and structures. For me, they enhance my creativity by giving me a structure to bounce off and a reminder of all the things it’s good to consider. When I put up my character template a few weeks back some people found it useful, so here’s another one, this time for writing plots.
I’ve taken elements of this template from all over the place, but most importantly from Dan Wells’s seven point story structure. When I’m writing a short story I often just use this template, alongside a character template if I’m developing a new character. For longer works I use this sort of format for each plot strand, and then combine them using another template.
Like I said, I love templates.
So here’s my list of things to consider when planning a plot. If you find it useful, or can think of other things you’d add, or even have your own template to share, please let me know in the comments.
My Plot Template v1
Why is this series of events happening and important?
What is the main char arc here? – yes, this might also be on the character template, but it’s important to tie it to the plot – who’s going to change, and how, as part of this.
What’s the conflict, including its type – person vs person; person vs themselves; or person vs environment.
What suspense keeps the audience engaged?
What emotional exploration goes deeper?
What are the pauses for reflection? (I skip this when writing flash fiction)
MICE – is it a Milieu, Idea, Character or Event plot? This is a really useful thing to understand, and the linked Writing Excuses episode explains it
– Beginning, as fitting its MICE nature
– End, as fitting its MICE nature
The Seven Key Plot Points
– Questions raised
– Need created in readers
– Unexpected but logical direction
– Time pressure for solution
– Answers to questions
– Emotional impact