Have You Lost The Plot?

I would say “random picture alert” but there is in fact a plot point here.

police dogs

Yes, the dogs have not lost the plot. 🙂

For some writers plotting is a breeze, and for others they’re continuously trying to climb the mountain to discover it. I’m a pantser by nature, which means I generally fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants and allow my story to unfold as it will. The majority of writers are, and that’s the creative side of us bursting forth. But I’ve also learnt the benefits of plotting various elements into my story. A writer has to plot in order to give their book its meat and direction.

So how do we plot when we’re a pantser?

  • We keep it logical.
  • Know who your main characters are. Ie, your hero, heroine and antagonist.
  • I’ve mentioned the main three in particular, because of my golden rule. Here’s the graphic I created a few months ago and shared.


  • Here, story conflict = plot.
  • Ascertain what your main plot point is and write it down. The reason I do this, is because my characters drive their story, and with the plot written down, I can continually remind them of it and keep them on track.
  • Don’t forget your subplots. They can be great and add layers to your story, only don’t create too many of them that they ruin the main plot itself. You don’t want readers having to work too hard at keeping all your characters and story lines in place.
  • Remember that subplots are designed to tug the reader in, to add depth, but not to overcomplicate matters. Keep your focus on the main plot, but enjoy the rocking motion afforded by subplots to enhance your reader’s experience.
  • Don’t allow any holes to develop in your plots by leaving out a missing piece of the puzzle.
  • And don’t allow your characters to act unnatural or out of turn during those conflicts.
  • Keep your pacing on track, ensuring your characters grow with each point of conflict (plot) you throw at them.
  • Make every scene you write earn its place in being a part of your plot. If it makes no sense to have it there, drop it.
  • Never forget all plot points must reach a resolution, otherwise a loose end leaves your reader in limbo and wondering what happened to that character.

I hope you found this list of “how to plot” helpful. If there’s anything you’d like to add to the list, then drop me a comment. I love hearing from you guys.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to read one of my books from my thrilling new Young Adult Fantasy Romance series then by all means, check out the book links below to pick up your copy of PROTECTOR or WARRIOR.

Here’s what one reviewer has just said about my latest release:

“Warrior held my attention from start to finish. Each obstacle Hope and Silas encountered had me jumping with joy, but often screaming in frustration. What made me fall in love with Warrior, is the heart thudding romance between the two main characters. It isn’t just a love story, it’s so much more. 5 Stars.” – Nocturne Romance Reads

1test.5 - Magio-Earth2

Buy PROTECTOR (Book One) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo

Buy WARRIOR (Book Two) at: Amazon Kindle / B&N Nook / iTunes / Kobo




15 thoughts on “Have You Lost The Plot?

  1. Great advice. It is true of non-fiction too in the sense that while the content is preset, the author must still be able to frame it in such a way as to take the reader on the emotional journey that is essential to all writing.

  2. Joanne, I always find your posts helpful and insightful. They are usually timed just right to give me the kick in the pants I need, when I need it – like right now! I’m in the process of revising a contemporary romance I’ve entered under my pen name in the Harlequin SYTYCW contest. Check it out!

    I’ve only got another few weeks to finish the edits before they ask for full MS’s – IF I happen to be one of the lucky top 50 finalists. Anyway, your post was perfectly timed to motivate me to get ‘er done. Thanks!

    1. What a great pitch. I had a read of your first chapter and found your story captivating. Thanks for the leaving the link. Loved it, and this comment.

      I actually entered the very first SYTYCW contest when it began a few years ago. It was so much fun, even though a ton of hard word. Getting a full MS ready in a matter of weeks was brutal, but I made some great friendships with other writers, and those still stand strong today.

      I also went on to enter SYTYCW the second year it ran, and that year we were given only a month to write and edit a full MS. It wasn’t nearly long enough, but the story I’d written was a strong one and although it didn’t place, I never gave up on it. After the contest concluded, I spent some time rewriting and perfecting that story, and once it was ready, I submitted it to a publisher. That story is titled “Witness Pursuit” and was contracted. It’s also set to release December 2nd, just a couple of months away.

      I lot of goods things can come out of SYTYCW, whether we place or not. I wish you huge success with this competition. I’m so glad my post was helpful. 🙂

  3. I’m a pantser most of the time as well, but I’ve found in my genre, YA fantasy, you have to have some plotting along with that. I construct me world, and have loose guidelines as to what I want from a story, and then I take it from there. When I hit the inevitable wall, then I know that somewhere along the way I’ve lost the plot!

    1. Hey, Katie. I loved your comment. Of the three genres I write in, YA fantasy takes the most plotting. You’re so right there. You have to construct your world and have a base plan.

      I also write Historical Highlander, and research here is the key. Research actually equals plotting for this genre. You can’t be without it. Hope you’re having a great day. 🙂

    2. Good point! Sometimes I get plotting and research mixed up. I’m not as bitter about either of them anymore, but at first I kind of wanted to hire someone to make all the decisions for me, and answer all my questions about my own world. 🙂

  4. Great advice. The only thing I would add is that uber-sellers like Dan Brown are clearly pre-plotters. On one hand, his characters and books tend are clever, but one-dimensional and regulated. On the other hand, they sell like hot cakes and have great stories. I’m trying to find somewhere in between!

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