When I hear the word "plotline" the first thing that comes to mind is a road map. Maps help you navigate from point A to point B so that you can reach your destination. There's no confusion, no getting lost along the way- the map is supposed to prevent all of that from happening.
In writing, a plotline map functions the same way. It is a visual representation of how to get from the beginning to end in your novel, with all the notable things in between marked down. It's purpose is to show you the way. The key difference between a road map and a plotline map is that a road map is already done for you. With plotline planning, it's up to you to make the map before you ever bring your pen to the page. You can imagine why that might lead to all the things you were trying to avoid by creating the map in the first place- frustration, self-doubt, and anxiety.
When you sit down to plot what is going to happen within your novel, you know that there needs to be a beginning, middle, and end. But all those points in between? Maybe not so much. That's why you're here. You're looking to begin the plotline planning process but don't know where to start. Having to make the map from scratch seems like an overwhelming task before you even begin to climb the mountain of book writing, especially if you've never done it before.
On the flip side, you're a writer who is already scaling the mountainside and find that your enthusiasm to begin is now surpassed by your confusion. You skipped the planning part because you knew where you were going already...or you thought you did. Now you're lost and everything is one jumbled up blur of words on a computer screen. You can no longer tell where you're going or how to get there. You're left with a giant headache and a tangled mess that needs sorting out. It's time to stop writing and focus on figuring out things the hard way. if this sounds familiar, this post is also for you.
Today we're starting an all-new writing series for the month of May. Yay! If you haven't guessed what the theme is already, it's PLOTLINE!
This month we're going to be exploring the in and out's of what plotline planning is, how to set yourself up for success, the different types, examples, and so much more!
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Now without further ado, what is PLOTLINE PLANNING anyways?
Plot is a literary term that is used to describe events that make up a story. Together they form a pattern or sequence that determines what kind of novel you're writing. It provides the structure through which all the other elements of a story evolve, and organizes the information and events in a logical manner.
Plotline Planning refers to the process by which you organize these plot events. Typically this is done through outlining, creating a timeline, and a lot of Post-it notes.
At the base level, there are 5 different elements of a plot. For quick-reference see the chart below.
The Function of Plot
A plot does many things within a story. It centers the action around the most important characters in order to showcase them and their desires. It motivates the characters to react to events taking place and connects these action/reaction sequences in a way that makes sense to the reader. It engages the reader's attention and keeps them reading because they want to find out what happens next. It gradually guides the readers through the story till the end, then gives them the gratification of a resolution. It allows readers to remember the story, understand the meaning or the message being conveyed, and hopefully motivate them to either reread it or to promote the reading of the sequel or series.
Now that you know what makes up a plotline and what function it serves, let's apply it to a well-known piece of literature, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. *Note: This does outline the entire plotline of the story so major spoiler alert.*
Each piece of a novel is intentional. From the breakdown you can easily see how the plot of Pride and Prejudice breaks down and enables the growth of the main characters and their relationships. In this series we'll help you learn how to outline your story, stay organized, and be intentional.