Updated: Nov 17, 2022
Plotting a novel is one of the most difficult things to do. Sure, it sounds easy enough - you just have to write about what happens in your protagonist's life from beginning to end, right? Wrong! There are so many ways that a plot can go wrong, such as it doesn’t flow, it’s confusing, or boring. I'll share with you some tips for creating a good plot for your novel.
Protagonist aka Main Character
The very first thing you have to do is create a protagonist that your reader will be interested in and want to follow. If you have a protagonist that the reader doesn't care about, it won't matter what happens to them or how much action occurs in the novel - it won't be interesting. This protagonist should be easy to relate to, which means they shouldn't have too much money or power and you need to make sure that they have a good motivation for their actions. It's also important to make sure that your protagonist is flawed in some way, so they aren't too perfect.
Once you have your protagonist, the next step is to come up with a conflict for them - this could be anything from a family issue to a murder mystery. Then, you need to come up with some sort of goal for your protagonist - something they want or need to accomplish. Next, you need to think about how the conflict and goals will be resolved - what is the final conflict and goal?
Outline Your Plot
Once you have your protagonist's conflict and goals written down it's time to outline your plot. An outline will keep things organized and help you stay on track. It also helps you when it is time to write out a synopsis for your novel! As you outline your chapters and scenes don't forget to add in a few twists and turns, just for good measure.
Remember that your novel should have a solid beginning, middle, and end. If you're struggling, just remember that the beginning introduces your characters and conflict. The middle is where things get really exciting - this is where most of the action happens! This is where your protagonist meets all sorts of obstacles, and it's up to them to figure out how they will overcome them. The end of your novel can be happy or sad, but it should leave the reader satisfied and eager to read more! Some people choose to leave their novels open-ended, but this is entirely up to you.
When you're outlining and writing your plot, make sure that all the action and dialogue is serving a purpose. If it isn't helping to further the plot, then cut it out. Some of the most common mistakes to avoid are having lots of unnecessary characters or scenes that don't add anything to the plot. You need to make sure that you're planning your novel in a way that keeps the reader interested and engaged. Remember to keep things fresh and add in some twists and turns! Don't just have the same thing happen over and over again.
Writing out a plot can be difficult, but there are plenty of resources available online that will help you brainstorm ideas and make sure that your novel has a solid plot to follow. Jerry Jenkins has some great resources in his article "How to Create the Plot of a Story".
Now that your plot is all worked out, it's time to get writing!