Plot Structure

by Micco
(US)

Question: I am trying to organize a plot to keep my writing moving from one goal to the next smoothly. I was looking for different methods of doing this and came across the snowflake method. It seemed simple and to the point. The outline below is for the story I'm starting to work on. It is just a first sketch so far to have a basic set up so things may move around a bit I'm sure.


It is fantasy with 1 main character, but he will meet 4 more characters through out the story that join his group. I divided the story into 4 parts and 32 chapters as the method suggested and each part will have an obstacle to transition the story to its final goal labeled as main problem and solution in each goal. This way each chapter accomplishes a plot goal or character goal, then will have room for any extra ideas along the way to fill in extra space. Then in each part one of the 4 new characters is introduced and recruited which is where the character intro character problem and character solution comes in. I've also added a side problem and solution into the fray as fillers that will help more with showing off the world I want to create and further develop my main characters and their relationship to each other and themselves.

The order of events for each part isn't set yet, I just made a fast list to get what I wanted for each part in there, I will order them later. What I was wondering is if this set up will be effective enough to help make an engaging story. My weakest point in writing is descriptive writing. Probably not something someone trying to write should ever say but lol I didn't start out writing stories. My main issue is describing rooms and surroundings. So my idea with this plot set up is to keep it fast paced moving from action to action with a goal in mind so I don't lose myself in the process of trying to design a fancy room I'll never be in again. I've read a lot of books through out my life. I've seen authors with so much detail I got impatient waiting for the action but the detail was great. I've seen authors that barely used any detail at all, but just enough to be effective and the action carried you like a wave from chapter to chapter. The latter is what I'm aiming for. And the reason for part
1 and 4 having odd numbers of character solution is because I didn't want the main character solving his problem too early. Any comments or advice supporting or against this set up would be greatly appreciated.

P1:
1. character intro.
2. main problem
3. character intro
4. character problem
5. side problem
6. character solution
7. side solution
8. main solution

P2:
9. Character intro
10. main problem
11. side problem
12. character problem
13. side solution
14. main solution
15. character solution
16. side problem

P3:
17. side solution
18. character intro
19. main problem
20. character problem
21. side problem
22. character solution
23. side solution
24. main solution

P4:
25. character intro
26. main problem
27. character problem
28. side problem
29. character solution
30. side solution
31. character solution
32. main solution

Answer: The Snowflake method is a useful tool for developing plot ideas. It has less theory underlying it, and because of that I would still recommend making sure the 8 basic plot elements all appear in the story (https://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/plot-outline.html). You can use them as a checklist to make sure your plot is dramatically sound.

I would also recommend you look at the W-plot as a model for making sure the story (and each of the character arcs) has a proper rise and fall in tension (https://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/w-plot.html). It looks like you have done some of this work already, but again it's a helpful check.

As for description, how much or how little depends a lot on the genre. Some stories require a rich emotional atmosphere which must be created through description (e.g. dark fantasy, horror, romance). Other genres may highlight the story world (high fantasy, science fiction, some adventure). Their readers both expect and enjoy immersing themselves in the description of the world.

In other genres, readers prefer a more pared down style that keeps the focus on the action (e.g. hard-boiled detective stories, Westerns).

You have to bear in mind that there's a trade-off. The average first novel is around 85,000 words. While that may seem like a lot, it often isn't. If you have an intricate plot that's really important, you may not be able to include a lot of description. If the character's inner struggle is the focus, you may have to devote more space to their inner monologue, etc.

Regardless, the best thing to do is look for opportunities to include telling details -- details that say a lot in just a few words. Sometimes the right telling detail is more effective than half a page of prose.

Best of luck.

Comments for Plot Structure

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Sep 07, 2017
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by: Micco

I am aware of the 8 elements and the w plot, i have plans already to cover the elements needed.

but after talking with many other writers, and others willing to offer some feedback, i have had 2 ideas of either needing to go with a trilogy or 5 book story because of the depth i want to portray with the characters, and the size of the world i am designing. and i tried out the trilogy idea, but the plot still wouldnt work right. so i am actually going with a 5 book series, so my plot structure has changed significantly to what this original plot here looks like. so a lot more plot elements will actually be implemented.

i will introduce 1 new main character to the group per book, along with a new continent per book. My head was just spinning trying to fit all 5 continents and 5 characters in 1 book. as a trilogy even 2 per book and 1 whole book for the last. It was to limiting.

i am aware of word count categories, shouldnt be an issue. but expanding this much will require a lot more detail for sure, but will help me in the end.

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