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Plot Diagram – Connect The Dots To Write Your Novel
July 1, 2015

Plot Diagram – Connect The Dots To Write Your Novel

A plot diagram is an outline of your novel’s dramatic structure.

It can be minutely detailed or have gaping holes. It can be written on expensive novel writing software or on a cocktail napkin.

The important thing is to have one. Because a diagram is you road map to what happens next.

Don’t feel it needs to be complete before you start. It’s just there to point you in the right direction.

Let’s Diagram A Plot From Scratch

How about a story about a boy who wants to run away and join the circus?

The basic points for a plot are as follows: Opening, Plot Point 1, Midpoint, Plot Point 2, Climax.

Let’s say he decides to run away at the beginning of the novel. So his decision will be at the opening of the plot diagram.


  • Buy runs away from home to join circus

So What Happens Next?

Maybe he runs away with the circus that is in town already. Then his decision to run away and running away would follow closely and both be in the beginning section.


  • Boy thinks about running away to join circus
  • Boy runs away to join circus

The story could be about his life at the circus and he could reach the circus at plot point I.

But let’s say the story is about the adventures he has between the time he leaves home and he reaches the circus.

So we’ll make his arrival at the circus the climax of all his adventures. (See how changing the position of the scenes can completely alter the dramatic structure?)


  • Boy reaches circus

In Between Point A And Point B A Miracle Occurs

Sometimes you will have trouble making the connection from dot to dot as, hmm… I am right now.

That’s a pretty big distance from the opening to the climax. Like jumping from one stone to another crossing a stream, we need a little help.

Time to shift focus.

Let’s stop thinking about events and start thinking about characters.

Maybe he jumped a train out of town and he meets an old hobo traveling in the same direction. Sounds good. Let’s put that at plot point 1.

Plot Point 1

  • Boy meets hobo on train

(After a couple revisions you might decide that it happens sooner than plot point 2. Let’s put it at plot point 1 for the time being.)

So where is a good midpoint for the hobo and the young boy?

Well, maybe the hobo gets the boy side tracked on a different adventure and the midpoint finds them involved in a bank heist.

So Now Its…


  • Boy thinks about running away to join circus
  • Boy runs away to join circus

Plot Point 1

  • Boy meets hobo on train


  • Boy and hobo are involved in bank heist

Plot Point 2

  • ???


  • Boy reaches circus

Now You’re Getting It

Like connecting dots the plot diagram charts the rising action of the novel until it culminates in the climax.

From the climax you will chart the falling action (which includes the resolution or denouement)

The main point to know is that each point must have a previous point that leads believably to the next point.

As I said before, don’t wait for it to be perfect to start your novel. You’ll change it around a hundred times. The plot diagram is just there to point you in the right direction.

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About Jim Conway

Author and Udemy Course Instructor. About me; http://www.e-novel-advisor.com/about-me.html Udemy; https://www.udemy.com/user/jimconway2/

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