Easy Plot Points

I had a discussion recently with a writer friend of mine when she heard me mention my use of plotboards. I don’t use them for every book I write, but they are a great hands-on, visual tool for those times when I need to get in the book, so to speak. But even if I don’t use a plotboard for a book there are key scenes, plot points, that I look for before I start any book. I don’t always know what’s going to happen in these scenes, but I know the book will have them somewhere.

Some of these are pretty standard, and some are just things that I came up with because they make sense to the types of stories I tend to write. Oh, and they don’t necessarily end up going in this order so it’s not really a progression kind of thing. What I like about these is that they have stops on the relationship progression but also the external plot stuff so you can kind of braid it all together or at least begin to. So without further ado, here are my standard plot points.

Inciting incident – this is really just my first meet scene, how do they meet, what’s the circumstances, etc.

Let’s work together – since my characters end up doing something together: solving a case, running from a bad guy, etc. this is that scene where it becomes apparent they’ll be in this together, apparent to the reader, they might not be committed to the “partnership” at this point. But this is one of those key factors for me, I have to figure out what situation can I put them in that will require them to be on the page together. Often.

first kiss – this is self explanatory, and sometimes I plot it out at the beginning because I already know how it’s going to happen, other times like in the book I’m currently working on (A LITTLE BIT SINFUL) I knew that I wanted her to instigate the first kiss, but I wasn’t quite sure how until I got further into the 1st draft.

first love scene – again self explanatory and again I don’t always plot this unless I know specifically where it will happen and why.

midpoint – kind of generic, but really just to remind me that I need something major to happen in the middle of the book, a twist or something. Since I tend to write books with suspense or mystery or adventure subplots, then this usually is a shift with that. It generally has emotional repercussions, but for the most part, this plot point is about the external plot and where its going.

I think I love you – this usually is two separate scenes because both the hero and heroine get one. it’s just that emotional break-through when they realize that this is different, that they’re not just in trouble, the damage has been done, they’re all in. They’re in for a heart-break unless they’re willing to change to get their HEA.

plot point – again generic, but just a reminder to keep things moving. This is often something that leads the characters directly into the BBM. They’ve tried to cheat to get out of having to change, to resist having to deal with their internal garbage and this one last cheat should mark their fate and the reader will know that something big and ugly is about to happen.

BBM – The big black moment – ug! I don’t always know what I’m doing with the big black moment, but I sometimes have a general idea. Like with my upcoming book with Entangled, A LITTLE BIT WICKED, I knew, pretty early on, how I wanted to hang my character out to dry, so to speak, but I couldn’t really figure out the logistics. It actually took me a long time to figure out how to do it, but I made notes and just left it there until I had a clear picture of how to do it. What you want for this scene is to have your heroine/hero’s worst fears realized, you want the external plot to force them to deal with their internal junk.

HEA – happily ever after, won’t really know for sure how to wrap it all up nicely until after I’ve figured out that BBM.

So that’s it. I mean that’s not all there is to my books, but those are the highlights. It’s also worth noting that these are also excellent plot points to use in crafting your synopses because they keep the focus on the main elements of the book and how the external and internal push each other along.

  • Rhonda Jones

    I really enjoyed your plotpoints, I would have never thought of this. I’m not a writer but this will be helpful for my kids reports. Thank you I might be borrowing some of these

  • http://www.miamarlowe.com Mia Marlowe

    Wow, Robyn. As a terrified pantser, I’m in awe of your organizational skills. I’ve tried plotting out my stories, but after a few plot points form in my head, I’m so anxious to get started, I can’t help myself. I launch into the mist. However, I’m noticing that even without pre-planning, I tend to hit the highpoints you listed. Hmmm… Must be something hard-wired.