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How to plot a book

Become a master plotter

It doesn’t matter how many articles I write, or classes I teach – I still start every book with a google search on ‘how to plot’. This newsletter reviews the fundamentals of story plot and how it relates to character and theme. Keep it bookmarked, you might well need it again in future!  

WEBINAR: The writer, the plotter, the editor and you (FREE for members)


24 October 2020. Part two of this webinar course looks at You as ‘The Plotter’. This webinar is free and exclusive for members of Jericho Writers. 



This week at Jericho Writers:

COURSE: The basics of plotting a novel (FREE) 

This module from the How to Write course delves into the essential ‘need to knows’ of plot – perfect for beginners, or those who – like me – need a refresher now and then! 



BLOG: How to write a novel in 30 days – New! 

With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) around the corner, we asked author Elizabeth Haynes to share her top tips for preparing for and completing a novel in November. 


REPLAY: Plotting for people who hate plotting (FREE for members) 

Are you a ‘pantser’ who loses the plot at plotting? This masterclass from Holly Dawson could well be for you. Join Jericho Writers to watch now. 




How to use a synopsis as a plotting tool 

I know. Synopsis? Plot? This post sounds both boring and hard.  

But – weirdly – using a synopsis as a tool to help you plot your book somehow makes both writing a synopsis and working out your plot that little bit easier. So much so, that the first thing I do when I think of an idea now, is write a full synopsis for it (helped in part by the fact that an agent and publisher will ask you to do this after your first book is out, so they can green-light your next idea!) 

For me, plotting is hard as I struggle to hold an entire novel in my mind at once. And writing a synopsis is hard because once I have that sprawling, many-legged novel, I struggle to squish it back inside a two-page box. 

Writing a synopsis at the idea stage lets me think un-emotively about the structure of the story I want to write, without getting bogged-down in sub-plot. I usually couple it with a sexy three-act-structure drawing, plotting my character arcs in a line and then summarising it all in neat little sentences on a couple of pages.  

Sure – the eventual novel with often look nothing like that original synopsis. But it will help you get to the end.  

Have you tried writing a synopsis before you start writing? What other plotting tricks have you heard about or mastered yourself? Sign up for free and share in the Townhouse.  

Sarah J x 

Plus, don’t miss: 

Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course bursary now open 

Entries are now open for the already sold-out Self-Edit Your Novel tutored course in January with Debi Alper. All under-represented writers are invited to apply for this free place.  

Manuscript Assessment  (Discounts available for members) 

Our most popular editorial service matches you to your dream editor and gives you tailored feedback on your work. It doesn’t get better than that. 

Complete Novel Mentoring (Discounts available for members) 

Write or edit your book alongside one of our expert mentors, including multi-bestselling authors and commissioning editors. 

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  • I'm about to start editing my second book which is currently in first draft with totally the wrong plot, was having a meltdown last week about how to even start attacking this beast of a draft and then remembered I'd already had to write a synopsis for this book for my agent and was SO relieved. Felt like past me had given future me a plan to follow. So yes, big fan of nailing your synopsis before a draft. Even if you don't stick to it, it's something to tether yourself to when you feel like you're drowning in words.

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