A New Way to Plot

Hey Everyone,

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a pantser and it’s made things difficult with writing this trilogy. I’ve tried different methods of plotting but none of them have worked for me other than to get me to say, I know what major events are coming up.

This has changed now.

I was on Pinterest the other day and saw a pin talking about J.K. Rowling’s outline style. This intrigued me so I went and looked at the blog post.

The writer showed Rowling’s outline from a segment of Order of the Phoenix and said what the columns meant.


Chapter number, when it happens, chapter title, what happens as part of the main plot in that chapter, what happened with various subplots.

I figured I’d try it and it’s helped me so much! I’m currently on the 6th chapter in writing it and I’m 10 chapters ahead of that in plotting. This setup helps me figure out how things should happen next as I go between big events.

I know have a clear path and will help me to keep moving forward.

See you all next week!


More Middle: The fine line between almost published and published (Story Structure in Harry Potter, Pt IV)

More advice from Write Like Rowling

Write Like Rowling

Photo by Bells Design @ Gratisography / CC0 1.0

In my previous post I mentioned that a book’s middle is one of the main deciding factors in its overall success (or failure). And how couldn’t it be? The middle comprises 50% of a book’s pages! But what exactly determines if a middle will fail or succeed?

Simply put, successful middles had authors who understood that the middle of a novel actually has two parts – and between those two parts there’s something vitally important called: the midpoint.

We’ve already covered the specifics of the first part of the middle (The Response) which comprises 25-30% of a novel: Here the protagonist is a wanderer, trying to find his place and making many mistakes along the way. Then halfway through the book at the midpoint there’s a “big fat unexpected twist,” as Larry Brooks says in Story Engineering. And this twist “empowers the hero…

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The Middle-Muddle: Write a middle that has some punch! (Story Structure in Harry Potter, Pt III)

Write Like Rowling

Photo by Bells Design @ Gratisography / CC0 1.0

The middle of a novel comprises 50% of a book’s pages. It doesn’t have the fresh taste of a beginning and it doesn’t have the twists and turns of an ending. It’s just the middle.    Just    the    middle.    Sounds boring, doesn’t it? Writing the middle of a novel has sunk many an aspiring writer; so how exactly did Rowling do it?

Part II: The Response

Reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks immensely helped my understanding of the mechanics behind “the dreaded middle.” In my previous post I discussed the first 25% of a novel, The Setup, which ends after the first plot point. This post will focus on the second part: The Response.

The Response spans another 25-30% of a novel and its purpose is to zero in on the protagonist’s reaction to his new situation after getting…

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The Beginning: Get your book off to a rock solid start (Story Structure in Harry Potter, Pt II)

This was a great read and being an avid Harry Potter fan I can see how Rowling followed these rules. In reading about the setup, I now can really see what I need to do for Book 2.

Write Like Rowling

Photo by Martin Wessely @ Unsplash / CC0 1.0

In my previous post we discussed how Rowling’s unique plots were (ironically) successful because she followed some basic novel guidelines. I specifically focused on plot points and pinch points in that post as defined by Larry Brooks in his book Story Engineering. Now in this post I’m going to be referring to Brooks’ text again to look at a few more important elements of story structure.

I’m a visual learner myself so here’s a diagram of the parts I’ll be talking about:


Story Structure

Now for the specifics:


Harry Potter Story Structure

In Story Engineering Brooks writes that there are four major parts of a novel: The Setup, The Response, The Attack and The Resolution. Like a circle, successfully writing one of these parts determines the success of the next part – and the success of…

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