I’m teaching a class on plotting a novel and while I was putting together notes for the first lesson, something dawned upon me. I shared it with the students and I thought maybe you’d like to hear it too.
I always hear people say their biggest problem is plotting but I don’t think that’s always the case. Most of the time, they’re getting plotting a novel and writing a novel mixed up.
Plotting a novel is just one part of the novel writing process.
Let me share with you two illustrations I gave to my students this morning.
Think of the plot as a tree trunk and all the branches and leaves are the other parts of the storytelling elements, character, dialogue, POV etc.
Think of a story as a body. The plot is the skeleton, and the muscles, blood, organs are the characters, dialogue, POV. (Sorry for the graphic description but it gets the point across perfectly).
The tree trunk can exist without the leaves and branches. and the skeleton without everything else. Your plot can do the same. However, it’s just not going to be as exciting without other elements bringing it to life.
On the other hand, the other elements can’t exist on their own. You can have a character but without a story (plot), he or she isn’t going to do anything besides be a name on your page.
Plotting is simply the sequence of scenes that make up you story. When you plot your story you have to figure out what scene goes where for it to, one, make sense, two, to show development of characters, three, increase conflict, four, up the emotion, and finally, move the story forward.
So when you’re struggling with creating a character or can’t figure out whose POV you should be in, you don’t have a plotting problem, you have another storytelling issue.
If you are struggling with your story I hope this has helped you figure out whether you need to work on your plot or something else.