skip to Main Content

How to Write a Plot for a Book

Why do people read a book? Because they’re interested in the plot.
You might have some people say that they like the characters in the book or are a fan of the author, but when push comes to shove, people read books because they are invested into the plot. A good plot will create an emotional response. It will be dramatically compelling.

And it is something that must usually be outlined before the writing process begins. Developing a plot as you’re writing a book can lead to many corrections, starts and stops, and a less than pleasant experience.

So these steps are designed to help you know how to write a plot for a book so that your ideas can take shape in a natural way. This allows you to include the following elements when you reach the right places in your writing.

#1. Create your story goal.

This is the main theme of your story. All of the other events that happen within it are going to hover around the centralized goal you are going to create. What is it that you want your character to discover at the end of your story? What conflicts do you see happening when your character attempts to accomplish their goal within the pages of your book?

#2. Enter in the worst case scenario.

There are consequences to every decision we make in life. Some outcomes are good. Others are going to be bad. In the world of storytelling, what hooks a reader into the narrative is the worst case scenario. Think about what your primary story goal happens to be. Now think about what the worst thing that could happen to your character would be should they decide to pursue their goal.

Then include this consequence into the plot of your book. It will add tension, inspiration, and justification – because the reader will feel like they have invested their time wisely into the story.

#3. What needs to be accomplished?

To continue your plot development, you’ll need to determine what a character will need to do in order to accomplish their goal. Think of it like this: you’re at the bottom of a stairway. The goal your character must reach is at the very top of the stairs. The steps you need to take to reach that point are the requirements your character must complete to obtain their goal.

If the goal of a character is to fall in love and get married, they’re going to need to meet people. The requirements here must make sense for what the character should be doing. Falling in love with an alien might work for science fiction, but it wouldn’t be suitable for a strictly historical Victorian novel.

#4. There shall be warnings.

These are the key moments that your readers will pick up on while reading your narrative. It’s an indication that something is about to happen to the character. These warnings are included because they heighten the emotions of the reader.

Someone searching for love might wind up having a bad date and feel like they’ll never find the perfect person for them. A friend of the main character might fall in love, only to get married and divorced while they’re still looking for love. As long as the warnings create tension and hook the reader, virtually anything which works with your main story goal is worth adding in.

You can also use this section to lay out roadblocks for your character to encounter that makes it more difficult to reach their goal. This will deepen the layers of emotion that can be generated by your overall plot.

#5. Cover all of the prerequisites.

The final step of plot development for a book is to cover all of your prerequisites. These are the events which must happen in order for the story goal to occur. Not only does this provide realism to the book, but it also creates a layer of challenges for a character to complete.

In the world of love, a character prerequisite may be to risk everything they have to win the over the heart of the person with whom they wish to spend the rest of their life. Without any prerequisites, the plot seems to lack challenge, which means the reader will lose interest.

Knowing how to write a plot for a book ultimately means creating a good introduction, a logical ending, and then tying the two things together with these steps.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

Back To Top