How To Improve Your Plotting

I have been reading, and recently finished reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. If you haven’t read it, It comes highly recommended. Anyway, after going through and highlighting the things I wanted to remember, I also took note of a writing exercise that I’m going to give a shot.

In his book Mr. Bell explains in detail a multitude of ways and ideas to improve our writing, and as he says in the first chapter. Writing can be taught!

So, knowing that I am not born with some particularly stellar set of writing skills, I am setting out on my first 8-12 week self motivated writing challenge.  In this challenge, using a lot of…ok pretty much all of.. what the book talks about, I am going to:

1. Collect 6 or more books in my chosen Genre. (These are books that will help me get a better grasp on the writing styles of my peers, give me fresh ideas and an outlook on how the Pros do it.)

2. Read through all of these books for pleasure.( This is my favorite part. I love reading!)

3. After reading through the entire collection go back to the first one with a set of index cards.  On the first index card write number 1 and so on and so forth, so If the cards are ever dropped they can be put back into order. For each scene, I am going to write down:

  • The setting
  • Point-Of-View character
  • A two-line summary
  • and scene type ( reaction, deepening, setup, action…)

Then I’m going to write if the scene makes me want to read on, why and why not?

4. Repeat this for all of the  books, after which I will have 6 or so neatly piled stacks of index cards. I will save them

5. Pick any of the stacks and quickly read through the novel summary by summary and scene by scene. Try to remember the scenes and continue on, almost as if I’m watching a movie in my head.

6. Wash, Rinse and Repeat…well, just repeat. So after going through these 6 + stacks of plot I will have a much better grasp on plot and how to better articulate it as I write.

So, that’s the gist. There are other parts to this exercise which I will be attempting, but I’ll leave that until you read the book yourself! It’s an incredibly valuable tool, and any one who has ever had difficulties with plot, or thinks that structure is a thing of the past, needs to get this book!

Good luck on your Writing!



Filed under Writing

9 responses to “How To Improve Your Plotting

  1. amandawykes

    That’s a really interesting idea, I might have to try it sometime… Thank you for sharing!

  2. WOW! I need to read this book if it inspired this post and challenge. Best of luck, and please keep us updated with your progress. I need to do this, too. Thanks for inspiring me!

  3. Pretty interesting technique, yeah I guess reading the six books for fun will be the best part 😛

  4. Thanks for the tips! I’ll look into this book if i have time. There’s so many books to read and so little time!

    • That is so true! I have a stack that seems to be getting steadily larger! Thanks for stopping by:)

      • I bought the nook so now I can increase my books to read at an astronomical pace. Speaking of which, I’m following your blog now so keep the female only posts at bay so I can see you improve as a writer (although there probably isn’t much room to improve)

      • Haha, I will try to curb my natural tendency to leave men out and stick to basics;)…but, tomorrow is Foodie Friday. So your going to get some sort of recipe…I’ll try to make it manly and interesting:)

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