First Steps in Plotting a Novel


When we talk about a novel’s plot, we talk about the events and actions of it that influence one another, through the cause and effect principle. Of course, you can’t have a novel without a plot.

The plot is the very structure of the novel. It guides every action that is or will be presented in it and it also prepares the reader for future parts of the plot.

In the end, the sequentially arranged events of the story that make up the plot link perfectly to one another, one being able to identify things at the beginning of the novel that connects perfectly with the end.

The most important thing when plotting a novel is to make proper use of the aforementioned effect of cause and principle. This will differentiate the actions of your novel and will turn them from a simple story into elements of the plot.

Plotting a Novel – The Beginnings

Writing is hard. Plotting a novel is way harder than that. Most of the times you’d want the entire action and plot elements of your novel to be perfectly laid down before you know what follows.

But, other times, inspiration will strike you and you will make a simple change while writing, and then the rest of the novel’s plot will change – just because of that action.

So, in order for you to be prepared before starting to write your novel – or even laying down your plot – we have made a list containing the first steps in plotting a novel. This won’t make the intricate story you have probably designed easier to follow, but it will provide you with things to remember while writing and changing the novel’s plot.

So, let’s jump into the world of plot building.

Research and Scavenging

It will be quite hard for you to come up with new plot elements that will just blow away your readers. So, it’s better to start from the basics, from the elements that have made plots good so far.

Most important is to avoid the clichés. Everybody is tired of the horror movies that use just the same old techniques and patterns of action. You should try to keep away from writing a novel that’s based on a cliché idea. Instead, use common and natural things to create elements of the plot, but that will instead create surprise to the reader – you have to come up with the surprise factor.

Also, even if you might think you want your novel to be easy to read as well as to understand, you shouldn’t want that. When going through a novel, readers look for something that’s worth their time. Furthermore, if it takes the effort to understand the plot and subplots, and how they intertwine, you’ll have a reader that won’t let the book down.

Crafting the Plot

Speaking of subplots, you shouldn’t consider them as an unimportant part of your whole plot. You shouldn’t think of them as separate stories, instead, they should complete the actions of the main plot and contribute to the creation of that cause and effect principle.

Sub-plots represent a way of aiding the main plot into being much more complex and interesting. This is what makes a novel good – avoiding the linear effect by switching between plot and sub-plot whenever you have the opportunity.

After crafting the plot, you have to take a look deeper inside your characters. They must not be bland, usual, and common. They have to seem like real people, and not just thrown in the world you are making for them. Giving them a purpose, a goal they work towards to is essential in building your plot.

Everything in your novel is part of the plot. So, everything must be designed with care, and with purpose. Before laying out an action, you should be sure of its consequences later in the novel.

In the End, the Plot Is Made of Wax

After carefully following the steps highlighted earlier, you should be able to come up with a solid plot outline. Then, you will start writing your novel and sticking to your plan. Which you shouldn’t. See your plot as a wax model. You can simply modify it at any time and thus make more intricate the cause and effect principle that’s based on.

In the end, some guidelines to plotting a novel must be respected, but as always, you can freely bend the rules a bit and come up with an outline and a plot that will impress and hook readers.