Three Ways to Plan a Novel

Oh my gosh, I just got the perfect idea for a novel. It’s genius! It’s amazing! I have to write it! Wait, no. What about if… no, that’s a stupid way to start. Ugh, it seemed so good in my head But when Iook at the page, I can’t figure out how to actually do it. –Never fear, I’m your NaNo Godmother, and I’m here to help! I’ve got three methods that you can use to turn your novel idea into a plot. If you want more information about these methods, you can check out the links in the description. Cool. –So first, we have a method called “Jot, Bin, Pants.” There are three steps to this one. If you’re a person who doesn’t like to plan a lot, this might be good for you. So first, you just jot everything down, brainstorm a bunch of ideas. Go big, go wide, just get a lot of things like 50 ideas or more just write a few words for each idea. –Ok, so like, I know there’s a scene where birds help her… I think there’s another scene where she loses a shoe, and another scene where she finds a shoe, and another scene Where the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe.
–Great, ok, so now you have all these ideas, the second step is called “Bin.” So you put them in different categories. Sort your ideas based on whatever story structure you prefer. So, you know, these three events go in act one, these go in act two, etc. just organize them in one long sequence however feels best for you. –So first, probably, it’s at home and she’s sad And I can do a flashback about how her mom died and her dad got married. –So the third step is just to write – just pants it! You have this outline, it’s a guide to help you know where you’re going, but don’t get too upset if it doesn’t follow it exactly. –Cool.
–Second method is Plot Rollercoaster. This is one of the more common ways to plot your story, you might be familiar with it. You can use the diagram to plot the beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of your novel. It’ll help you figure out what the major events of your story are and where it’s going. Try to do just 3-5 word sentences for each piece.
–Ok, so like in the beginning, Cinderella’s unhappy, the rising action is that she can’t go to the ball, her fairy godmother helps her go to the ball, she goes to the ball and meets the prince, she loses the shoe, ok cool. –The third method I have for you today is the Plot Dot. There are nine parts to this plot structure, so it’s a little bit more involved than the other ones. First, you have your main character in the ordinary world, and your focusing on what your main character is missing or wants. –So that is CinderBetty missing her parents, working at her stepmother’s home.
–Great. So, two is the inciting incident, or the call to adventure. –Oh, that’s when the invitations come.
–Perfect. Three is your first plot point. So that’s the point of no return. –Mm, so that’s when the fairy godmother helps her go to the ball. She’s entered, she can’t turn back now. –Fourth is your first pinch point, or that first moment of conflict.
–That’s when she gets to dance with the prince, and he falls in love and she loses the shoe.
–From there you have the midpoint. So that’s the shift of your main character from victim to warrior.
–Ah, so she goes back to the home, but now she’s the one who the prince loves, so she knows that, that’s her secret. — From there you have your second pinch point, that second moment of conflict.
–Oh, that’s maybe when the prince comes, and tries on the shoe to all the other women.
–Mm, great. So then you have your second plot point. That’s the dark night of the soul for your main character. –That’s when the shoe fits the stepsister and it looks like they’re going to get married to the prince instead. –Last you have your final battle or your triumph. –Ok, so that’s when the shoe fits Cinderella, and the prince chooses her and they get married.
–You really have a thing for shoes, don’t you? –Thank you, NaNo Godmother! I’m going to plot my novel!
–Here to help! –Bling! For more writing tips like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check us out at

10 thoughts on “Three Ways to Plan a Novel

  1. I used the Plot Dot for a very complex story that I already knew most of the plot, but my NaNo this year is going to be a Jot, Bin, Pants I think!

  2. Great job, can you look into doing more on abstraction of the novel? Something along the lines that f Patti Dobrowski’s Tedx on drawing your future. My thinking is giving a visual abstraction to serve as a guide when traveling from the brainstorming through the outlining, plotting & drafting phase.

  3. You've got a scenarium shovel!! That's so great! I usually use it to smack the head of the situations that doesn't like to fit in my story.

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