my favourite novel plotting method: the plot embryo



I love you so much don't cause any trouble my dear just like to hold oh so soft so itchy so you already know that I am a huge supporter of highlighting your novel so I want to speak today about one of the best tools I find for putting your baby so I use this tool for buying my novel revision of north to the end and basically all the things that really talked about that draft and I really liked it kind of showed me wider agates and all of this that were a bit wobbly and it showed me why the Republic so I really got like a deeper understanding of my draft and what works and what doesn't and that's really important kind of showed me my story in a whole new light and actually a good thing so the tool and talking about is done Harmon thought embryo and you might have already seen a diagram and illustrating it like this before I am sure the Ivy blogged this graphic to my tumblr kind of dude's blog things like years ago and it looks quite unassuming but I actually finds that when I agree to understand how it worked and it kind of blew my mind a bit so down Harlan if you didn't already know as a writer but he actually smiley writes the TV so he created the show community and Rick Murphy if some economy is thing and the thing there's also something called harden Titan I'm gonna be across caps and what sure just like by the way if you haven't seen community already for my favorite shows of all planes and like you still have a chance to not make the biggest mistake of your life and go watch it very very good so basically what Don Harmon did and cuz you know he was really interested in story structure and how it works and why it works and he took Joseph Campbell's like model with feeding and kind of distill the into you a bit of simplified version but basically an easy-to-use tool for clapping so I'm going to start with kind of explaining a little bit about what the monomi is and do the council's tap then I'm going to ask you know should we be trying to emulate this structure is that something you should be doing and then I'm going to go and explain how to plot and Gilbert's on how to use or highlight I'm using it so Joseph Campbell this guy and notice are occurring at patterns in all the mythology and encounters from this you came up with a literary theory called the monument or the heal obscurity which is the idea the old myths and most stories follow a similar traditionally satisfying structure that is kind of cyclical a hero goes on an adventure and then in a decisive crisis wins the victory and then returns home transformed for change so all of this is contained in Joseph's ample food the hero with a thousand faces and there was also a documentary on him called terror of mix and which may be consistent start I actually have not read this yet I've had it for years I actually studied it in comparison to her in University and I still haven't finished it and I'm returning to it in the wake of and finally a tray of Dan Harmon's kind of version of the monomyth and because I would like to get ruling under some sort of material and I think there is a fair amount of stuff in this list a bit ID you know he was writing in 1949 so it's quite old but and I think there's still a lot of interesting stuff in there so I'm going to beat that so should we try and emulate the mono mix structure if it exists so Joseph Campbell as far as I know well like I said I haven't finished as a hero of a Thousand Faces so correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I understand it he didn't prescribe that you know this is how we should write stories he was kind of just pointing out what we do have a saying this aside people do write stories so this isn't like the one true way you know a story that doesn't follow this traditional monolith structure isn't necessarily bad but if that's the kind of story we want to tell we want to tell a heroic story then the modern which is a really good place to start a great base which has challenges and the idea of the monument is our tragic universe by Scarlett Thomas there's one of my favorite books even though and I have a weird relationship with it and I kind of hate some parts of it but like I also think it's very interesting so it kind of explores the idea of stories that structurally break from the mono myth the idea is that when we mapped tragedies on to the structure unless they're actually unfinished because they don't ever get round to that happy ending story our story is kind of clear with our expectations of what the story is or what a story should be there are lots of really great examples in this and again they recommend it I think this kind of structure is such a good tool to have in your arsenal weapon to have in your arsenal tools to have your two kids I don't know if I'm going to want to write stories which don't fit this structure which don't have heroes overcoming things but I know that I want to write that name I want it to be satisfying I wanted to click and so the model mates like I said is a really good put to start so let's get into it so the poor embryo I'm going to give you my summary of how it works here and but I definitely recommend going and checking out the original and posted by Dan and seeing how he explains it and there's also a video which i think is really good too it's kind of add some visual elements to that post because in some ways this is a simple tool but in some ways it actually takes a wee bit to get the hang of it and so and I just learned about it so you know I did as much reading as I could possibly find on it and before I got started not really useful so it also recommends you go to the go to the source I will link those below so the plot and do is a circle it's divided in half horizontally and vertically and and these segments represent different things in the story universe so the vertical line divides the internal change in the story so the characters on the right you have spaces or ignorance and on the left you have change or enlightenment and these are going to be different depending on what story you're telling Adam himself actually said and a lot of his plots in community these are dishonest and honesty the horizontal line divides external changes in the story so the hero's world on the top you have life you have ordered if familiar and on the bottom that you have death and chaos disorder and I'm the unfamiliar so these two lines give you kind of Cardinal crossing points if you're going clockwise it number C it will across from the familiar into the unfamiliar I've entered the story world and on at five you're going to cross from ignorant to enlighten so the character is going to learn things something like which is the point of the story and then over at seven and give it across from the unfamiliar back into the familiar so you're going to return home so each of these segments and once you add in your other two lines and used to fight identity and is a plot point so like I said go and read Dan's explanation of each of these cookie goes into way more detail but this is the kind of summary that I distilled from that and I've kind of got got a little bit of a cheat sheet that I need for myself for reference and for using this and future and this is what I have so number one you you have a character in a zone of comfort and you're establishing your protagonist here a to ensure that the character needs or want something they're in a zone of comfort but something's not quite right and number three they go off on their adventures we go off the secret thing they want it crossed from the threshold of new the ordinary world into the story world and that may be fantastical or not better life things are unfamiliar to them so we have to leave the familiar to go and find this thing whatever it is really won a number for the search for the things so they go through the world of trails as it's called they're forced to adapt to the unfamiliar the kind of cleansing huge fighters basically preparing them to get what they want so number five you've got fight they find the thing they want then it uses the same term ensues example and this and calls it meeting the goddess is the kind of moment of stillness and and vulnerability and revelation this is where they cross from ignorance into enlightenment or they cross from whatever their initial state was to whether they've now learned or how they changed they make a choice here and then they start to offend a number six they take what they wanted so we find it and either they take it and they pay a high price for it so this is where they meet their maker it might be even called always lost movies this is about sacrifice and cost it's the low point but the character is I change instead of being reactive in the first segment of the circle they're now acting so a seven you have the return so they cross from the unfamiliar back into the familiar and this might be you know big car chase they might be escaping extracting or it might be very looking and I'd finally you have to change so the character has returned to the familiar but they're now changed you know they now having changed have the power to change things so they can change the status quo they're now able to overcome their conflict the thing they wanted in lead it back in the beginning something that I thought was really interesting when I was working and with this for so I've distilled thrust of the engine clean main plot and basically everything else you know like feed into those and then so in doing apply and meal for each of those and so the first to actually know if there's a lot of symmetry between the kind of opposite end of clock points so I'm just going to go over kind of what we need and they actually kind of brought to light a lot of things and a lot of similarities and mirroring and reversals that I hadn't noticed before so the first opposite pair you've got is number one and number five so number one you've got a character who is comfortable in their ignorance and then at number five you got a character if you're uncomfortable but becoming in latest a number is 2 and 6 you have character wanting something and then you have the character getting what they wished for I'm paying for it and number three and seven you have a character entering the unfamiliar as an ignorant person and then you have some coming back to the familiar as an enlightened person and then lastly it points for an eight you have a character who is being forced to adapt to maybe in some ways being punished further ignorance and then at eight you have a character who has changed and as I was using that to bring about group I find these comparisons to be helpful because I find the reports where maybe one size made perfect sense for men the other ones like it's maybe just needed tweaked and then absolutely perfectly kind of literally and it just all fit really nicely together so I thought I would go over that because that's not something really I don't think anyone touched on then it's that I read and a lot say I'm just gonna go over a couple of practical tips for how you can use this and how I've been using it so far like I said I've only done a couple of these but it's been really really helpful so the easiest way I find to set up a spot and view on an a4 piece of paper into new draw circle in the middle and you can freehand it doesn't need to it's pretty I am a bit of a neat freak so I like to draw a tiny communal centrality for a jar a mug or something and get it quite even but then you want to define that your half and quadrants so what kind of changes the character are going to undergo and then what kind of and difference do you have between the ordinary world and story world so is that a world of magic or is it a new job something like that what is the unfamiliar situation which the character is going to traverse which is going to help them learn the thing we're going to learn and and then you set up these kind of reading sections and outs of each of the plot points so you've got space you've got designated space to write writing to those plot points and find that is the best way to do it and I did not do that the first time and begin with a mess after you defined those and you can start generating profitable plot points for each of these sections as you're looking each one you can refer back to you know the descriptions of what they are and I would go in and do those in 10 and then for the rest of your working new you try to figure out the plot points and things I would do that in pencil and because you know nothing sentences on here and you're probably going to and tweak things as you figure out how they mirror each other or maybe something's in the wrong place and actually needs to be somewhere else and so it start with pencil so then you can start generating plot points at each intersection and but you also just want to take a look at the circle itself and what point you're at you know like what boundary you're crossing and make that the plotlines kind of adhere to that and just keep kind of molding from there if you're trying to plot a story that you've already written or you've already got plot point for it and it's a good idea to try and list all the plot points you've already got and just lift up your piece of paper and then go in and try and get them into the structure and see exactly how that works and that's why I did from off to the end and it was very effective so I definitely recommend that and that's about it and I hope you guys find it really helpful like I said it kind of changed a lot of things from a flossing and it's really kind of brought everything to light and sharpened it and made it better so I hope it goes well for you too and I think that the more you see and the existing stories I mean you're able to break them down and see how they fit into the structure the easier the plot and room will be to use there are already examples in that and in the links below I think those kind of things are be useful so if you have any brief length of some of your favorite stories then clearly shows in the comments look so I think that would be good for a lot of people to see ok that's it for today guys and take care of yourselves as always I'm Rachel Stevens novelist new super little Talbot and if you like this video give it a like to final and if you haven't subscribed already need me to subscribe because this is friends and just just be careful face looking for brand face why why we need to spray for more of that not sweet content okay I know it's bye-bye for me urban unity in a long day if you feel free to skip those are they you know how many Walter Kirby is this thing on yes it is never be futures woman

23 thoughts on “my favourite novel plotting method: the plot embryo

  1. Joseph Campbell has not been dated at all. He's a serious scholar of Mythology and religion, making no distinction between the two. I stopped watching your video after 3 minutes because I was a pretty sure that you didn't know what the hell you were talking about. I'm already familiar with Dan Hartman. Rick and Morty is one of the best science fiction programs in the history of everything

  2. When I first read The Hero With a Thousand Faces I realised that it had a profound logic to it. In a tribal society the myth structure was a prescription for how to tackle a great task and the effect it would have on you, and your obligations. There is the desire to reject it (a normal reaction), acceptance, the need to find people who can help you with advice or magical talismans (remember tribal society), bring allies, the many trials and failures and need to persist, you find what you wanted, but now you need to return to your people so they can share the reward. All very good advice for a young person. It is not the only way to write a story but it does appeal because of its logic I think.

  3. But if you have different main plots, maybe 3 like in your example, when do the different Plot Points happen? Did the fifth point of plot 1 happen at the same point in the story like the fifth point of plot 2? Or are they at different places in your story? Or, to say it another way: if my character 1 changes at plot point x, does character 2 change there too? I hope, my thoughts aren´t too confusing 😉

  4. Thank you so much! Incredibly informative and helpful. I'm off to get my pencils and some paper now.

  5. the way of your conversation is so boring make your video interesting and also use titles

  6. Hi Rachael! I was wondering if you would be willing to do a video sharing your thoughts on writing a series? I would like to outline the entirety of the series I'm trying to write but am finding it somewhat difficult and the way you explain novel craft alwayshelps it to click for me. Thanks!!

  7. I am doing the "How to plot a novel on one page course at the moment. I highly recommend it. I don't know if this is useful but I came up with a mnemonic for remembering the points on the embryo. I have a bad memory so I habitually do this.
    You
    Need to
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    Search,
    Find,
    Take what you want
    Return to the checkout, pay and get your
    Change.

  8. We spend so much of our short lives wondering how things work and overthinking everything, then before you know it you are 70 years old.

  9. My friend and CP Oonagh Moon on Instagram told me of you so I had to check you out! This was very useful thank you! I'll keep you updated when I use it 🖤

  10. This is the most helpful thing that I've seen about plot. I followed up and read the original posts by Dan Harmon and it is well worth the read, but I prefer your summary. It really helped me feel positive about this years (2018) NanoWrimo. I have no doubt that I will succeed this year. Thank you!

  11. Tremendous! I'm a first-time writer and just getting my characters off the ground. This will be a huge help to finish strong!
    Thnx

  12. i have been getting so much great info while prepping for Nanowrimo this year using your videos. Thank you so much!!

  13. Thank you Rachael! This has helped me so much. My previous novels have stalled one third through and I can see this is due to large wobbles in plotting! Using the Harman plot embryo has already helped me bring clarity to the journey of my key characters. Whoopee! Just in time for NaNo!!!

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