How to Plan Your Storyline

How to Plan Your Storyline

So you have a brilliant storyline in mind now. It’s time to get writing. Even if you have a great idea on how to write a story, actually executing it into a great plot that will get heads turning can be incredibly difficult. Great storytellers often intuitively know how to put a plot together from reading a lot of books, but for most of us, it helps to have a little bit of guidance when it comes to structuring a plot storyline.

Learning the basics can actually go a long way in making a story more engaging. Every wonder why most books and novels manage to suck you in near the end? Many scripts and novels follow some of the basics.

Some basic outlining of your outline and work can be helpful at this stage. Try this stuff out when you write for fun whether it’s flash fiction, fanfiction, or short stories. As you get the hang of it, you’ll find that you will naturally be able to structure things better.

There are a few styles of story arcs that can be used. The most famous ones are film based but often apply to great book storylines as well. The two most famous ones are the three-act structure and the hero’s journey.

In this article, I’ll focus more on the hero’s journey.

Here are the basic summarized steps of the Hero’s Journey. This isn’t the exact hero’s journey but modified slightly for modern stories.

1. Introducing an ordinary person

There is where we learn about the character in a normal world setting. You get to see the character as a typical person in a typical world.

2. The problem occurs

This is when the problem appears and reveals itself to the character. In many horror stories, this is where the monster reveals itself.

3. Denial

This is typically where the main character feels qualms or resistance to taking on the trial and tribulation. In many cases, this might be when the character initially turns the adventure down. This is when Shrek says no to everything. In love stories, often times this is a denial of feelings.

4. Getting Advice

The main character usually has a mentor or teacher who gives sage advice that is relevant only later on in the story.

5. Starting the adventure.

Passing the first barrier of the problem. This can often be a mental gap that leads the character in the journey.

6. Fighting battles

A series of challenges that the character has to go through.

7. Approaching the greatest challenge

There is always a “boss” or a big challenge that the character has to face. There is always this build up. In the first Harry Potter novel, this is when Harry approaches Voldemort.

8. The Point of No Return

This is the point where in fighting the great challenge, everything that goes wrong, goes wrong. Everything seems hopeless. This is when Indiana Jones is about to die or there is a terrible break up that reverses all romantic progress in a romance story. If somebody cheated in the film, it’s likely that here is where that’ll come out. Many of the best short stories manage to pull the point of no return off extremely well. This is what makes the ending often so juicy.

9. The Resolution

In a miraculous finish, the hero manages to figure things out and solve the impossible problem. The character comes out better, learning key lessons, and victorious. (or in the case of a tragedy, it ends badly here). The bad guy is defeated and the good guys win in a wild finish!