A question that comes up a lot is Plotting. How do you create your plot, what are the best methods for plotting, how do you plan all the different parts of your novel? So, today I am discussing the structure I use for my plotting.
What Didn’t Work
Now, years ago, I was a pantser and wrote loads with that method – but it was fractured and messy and since I write in scenes not chapters, I had over a thousand separate scenes for my Trinity Hart series. Therefore this particular series is a big ol’ hot mess that I’ve been working on for 2 decades (I know, I know… don’t judge me!). I will need a full month to get that pile of crazy under control and plotted out.
It was fun and creative but very unsound. So, I started to learn to plot. I’m not perfect, I suffer from Sagging Middle Syndrome at times, and I have to really keep an eye on it. But other than that weakness, I am pretty happy with my plotting method.
The Seven Point Structure
I came across this structure when I saw the presentation by the author Dan Wells, who went through it so clearly. I tried it and LOVED it.
For those who haven’t heard of this plotting structure, see is a basic overview:
01) The Hook
02) Plot turn 1
03) Pinch point 1
05) Pinch point 2
06) Plot turn 2
So, your story gets organised through these points. Let’s go a little deeper.
What Each Point Represents
This is how your story begins, the set up where we see how (usually) the main character is living and what their current situation is like. For example, in Cinderella, this would be where we learn Cinderella lives the life of a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. The Hook will most likely, be the opposite of the resolution.
Plot Turn 1
The first plot turn is what moves your story forward. This is your inciting incident that creates some form of action or decision. Something that changes the character’s life. It pushes them on their journey, creates the conflict that will drive them.
Pinch Point 1
This is called the Pinch point because it’s where you start to apply pressure to the character/story. Things start building up. The first pinch point is a good time to introduce your antagonist/villain or just make things a whole lot worse.
Ahh, the middle of your story. When your main character begins to move from reactive to active. Your character is often forced to make a decision, comes to the conclusion they must act in order to stop the antagonist/villain/situation from getting worse.
Pinch Point 2
We are now into our second pinch, so you know what that means. Crank up that pressure! I call this the Big Fail. It’s when things get bad, the character fails/loses everything/has their darkest moment that threatens to break them. They tried, they failed, and they are struggling.
Plot Turn 2
This is the upward swing. The second plot turn gets our main character out of the Big Fail and pushes them forward. Whether they realise they have the power, get a kick in the pants to stop moping or something much deeper – this is when we move our character from towards the success they are aiming for.
The resolution is the climax of the story. It is time to resolve the conflict you created in your plot. Whether your character reaches their destination, finds the lost city, saves their family, or wins the battle against a pinecone monster – the resolution is what gives the reader closure. The Resolution is often the opposite setting to the Hook.
If we go back to the Cinderella example to show how the resolution is the opposite of the Hook – Cinderella is now happily married to the prince. Very different from being a servant in her own home to her stepfamily.
NB: Obviously, there are stories that don’t have closure, there are stories that don’t have happy endings and ones that leave a huge cliff-hanger that moves you towards the next book. That’s fine, the resolution should still be the finale of THIS book. I know I mention the main character winning – but of course, they can fail too.
What Order to Plot
Strangely, it is suggested that using these 7 points to get the bones of your plot down – should be done in an order that is NOT the one I just mentioned above. That was me just going through them. But if you want to plot, grab some paper, and put the points in THIS order when you start filling in the details (it really helps!):
02) The Hook
04) Plot turn 1
05) Plot turn 2
06) Pinch point 1
07) Pinch point 2
Watch The Presentation
The presentation includes lots of examples of books that can be put into this structure and also covers the Try and Fail cycle and Ice Monster that I didn’t include here. I highly recommend this presentation if you’ve ever struggled with your plotting.
It is in 5 points, here’s part 1 and the following parts should appear at the end for you to select.
Save The Cat
I have had it recommended to me many times that I should check out the book Save The Cat Writes a Novel for great plotting guidance. I bought it a year or so ago, read it, enjoyed but didn’t find the 15 point beatsheets as helpful as I know many other writers do. I prefer to use the 7 point plot structure above.
But I know a lot of writers really swear by this book and since plotting can be difficult for a lot of writers, if you haven’t heard of this book or haven’t read it, you may want to give it a go. Especially if the 7 point plot isn’t for you.
I’d love to know what method you use for plotting your story (for those who plot). Have you tried the 7 Point Structure?
Happy writing & stay safe
I write articles on writing, marketing, blogging, organising, social media, books and some random stuff. I also create free printable resources. If you find my content helpful, entertaining and like what I do, consider supporting me on ko-fi (where you will also find extra content I post). All donations go to keeping my website running and helping me move towards publishing my novels.