Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Plotting: The skeleton without which exquisite, fleshy prose sags.

I have to say a big THANK YOU to @KayCassidy for introducing me to the Hauge 6-point plot structure.

The other day on twitter, she mentioned that it changed her writing life. Now I have to confess, it is changing mine, as well! From my first attempts at writing (just butt in chair, pummel through writer's block) to my more recent (stream-of-conscious, first-person nanowrimo project), I've struggled through problems with plot. I always say I'm an idea girl. Coming up with what people call high concept ideas for novels is easy for me. I have about a dozen truly original, mostly fun concepts tucked away in raw synopsis form. But when it came to writing the high-stakes parts--rising action, climax, CONFLICT--I bumbled. Well I am bumbling no more!

Thanks to Kay Cassidy, author of The Cinderella Society, I can now plot just about any story that pops into my mind. Rather than sticking my fabulous ideas in a paragraph-length blurb, I've begun writing an entire synopsis/book proposal for each idea, based on the six-point plot structure. I number the elements on six notecards:

1. Setup

2. New Situation

3. Progress

4. Complications/Higher Stakes

5. Final Push

6. Aftermath

Then I force myself to adhere to these guidelines in creating a full, fleshed-out premise and plot. The size of a notecard makes brevity necessary, a great thing if you're outlining for a book proposal or one-page synopsis. Last, I transfer the six paragraphs (without numbering them) into a word document.


I have a synopsis, formerly one of the most difficult parts of the writing process, for me. Knowing that I have a full idea, complete with character names, conflicts, and resolution, makes writing the story a much more flowing process. It also takes a load of stress off, since I won't have to condense an entire novel into a synopsis after I've written it (you know, at that point where you think leaving minor characters and subplots out of the synopsis is a crime). If I get a request for a synopsis from an agent, I already have a document that merely needs fine-tuning before I send it out.

Having the synopsis already written does more than provide the crux of my proposal. It also helps me while I'm writing.

Writer's block is so much rarer now than when I began seriously writing two years ago. Knowing the story from beginning to end provides me with a framework, with guideposts that keep me from getting totally lost. I still have plenty of flexibility to change characters and subplots as so inspired, but if I accidentally write myself off the page and into Neverland, I can retrace my steps and get back on course.

Foiled again, no more. Now I must return to my plotting. Buwahahahahaha!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak up! You will be heard...or read.