One Stop Plot Shop

The more I write, the more I’m aware of what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m pretty good at dialogue, as well as conveying a particular tone in my work. My characters live and breathe and bleed. The ideas and hooks for my stories are solid. But if there’s one thing that causes trepidation it’s…


*cue spooky organ*

My background is in literature. I have a graduate degree in literature. When I finally got my act together and started writing, I began with literary short stories. Quiet pieces where ordinary lives ticked along at a pace of 60-seconds-a-minute.

Now, not to get into that whole literary vs. genre fiction discussion, but literary fiction can be light on plot. (No haters, please. I love literary fic as much as you.) When I started writing, my stories were light on plot.

But then I started writing novels, and something changed. I found myself writing…*gulp*…genre fiction. For young adults. And with YA fiction, you not only have to have living, breathing and believable characters in a vivid, tactile world with a wicked hook that pulls the reader into the story, you also have to have a story that moves, where events happen, where there’s, you know, an actual story.

Okay, I’d argue that every book has to have those things. But you get my point.

So being the impulsive pantser I am, I dashed off into my novels, writing whatever came to me; and somewhere in the middle I’d start to question where my story was going. Often I knew the ending; I just didn’t know quite how to get there.

Yeah. I struggled with that tricky thing called plot.

So I started edumacating myself on plot. Started trying to figure out if pantsing is really for me. Started searching for my inner plotter. Started looking for resources on how to build a solid plot without having a book that’s just plot, if you know what I mean.

Today, I share those resources with you.

In fact, I’d love to evolve this post into a One Stop Plot Shop. But I need your help. I know this ginormous world is full of resources for us pansters to learn how to plot. It’d be frabjous if you shared your favorites in the comments. Just think how you’d benefit mankind by inspiring authors everywhere strengthen their sagging plot lines. Do it for the children!


Without further ado, I give you the plot resources.


Donald Maass: Writing the Breakout Novel

James Scott Bell: Plot & Structure

Damon Knight: Creating Short Fiction


Nathan Bransford: Do You Have a Plot?

Holly Lisle: Create A Professional Plot Outline

Diana Wynne Jones: Hints About Writing a Story (found thanks to Holly Black’s incredible writing resources page)

Chuck Wendig: Story Vs. Plot, Ghost Vs. Bones: Discuss

Chuck Wendig: Three Most Important Words In Plotting: Escalation, Escalation, Escalation

Chuck Wendig: How Chuck Outlines: An Outline

(Okay, pretty much anything Chuck writes about writing, you should just go and read. Like, right now.)

OK, your turn. What’s missing?