Three Plotting Methods

It’s almost NaNoWriMo time! I’m so excited, but also incredibly terrified. I finished a draft last year, and am starting with a brand new world, cast of characters, and storyline. I’m even attempting a dual POV, which I’ve never done before.

So, my panicking is driving me back into the books for plotting methods. I’m here to share with you three of my personal favorites.

But before I do that, I want to make sure you understand that plotting methods can work for you whether you are a plotter, pantser, or hybrid plantser.

For the plotter, these methods can help you feel confident you know where you are going before you even begin.

For the pantser, these methods can help you after your draft to make sure you’re hitting the right beats in the right places.

For hybrid plantsers, these methods can help you identify rough lightposts as you draft and then a more structured method for revising after your draft is complete.

Alright, now that that is handled, here are my favorite three plotting methods:

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell
The classic story structure of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth

1. The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell

This is probably the most classic plotting method, also knows as the monomyth, and if you google “how to plot” you will probably end up finding this method right off the bat.

A number of stories have followed Joseph Campbell’s method which he reverse engineered from classic stories. Despite this, it holds true for many, if not all, modern stories as well.

This focuses on the journey that a character takes through toils, a victory in a dire crisis, and then returning to their “home” a changed person due to their journey.

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel beat sheet
While confusing at first, this beat map can really help organize your story

2. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

I love this book. It was a huge eye opener for me because it really broke down the methodology behind why story plots follow the basic templates that they do.

Brody provides TONS of examples in here but also breaks down genres like Monster in the House and Guy with a Problem. Each of these genres follow the same traditional plot, but with a few specific items added into the mix.

So far it has been super helpful in helping me write two POVs with different genre types while still maintaining focus on the overall plot of the novel. I’ve also used it in figuring out where to revise my other project.

Plot your novel by Sarra Cannon
Sarra’s workbook combines a variety of plot methods into one cohesive structure

3. Plot Your Novel by Sarra Cannon

Sarra does an awesome job of outlining both the character creation method and the overall plot in her workbook.

One of the things that I love the most is that Sarra has taken a few different plotting methods and blended them into one. It leaves you with a detailed breakdown of what needs to happen in Act 1, Act 2 (part 1), Act 2 (part 2), and Act 3.

One revelation for me was that there isn’t just an inciting incident for your character, there is a key incident as well where he/she becomes locked in this new trajectory. This separation was a revelation for me when I tried to revise my work last year.

There you have it! These are my top three plotting methods. What do you think? Better yet, what do you use when plotting or revising your work? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Published by Leslie

I'm an author, teacher, wife, and mother of three who just finished an MFA program and is working on a YA fantasy novel.

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