The Best Plotting Advice on Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

This week we are bringing you the best plotting advice to be found on These articles cover everything to do with plotting, from how to plot, and the benefit of plotting, to the different plotting methods out there.


I have bunched together three articles by Lindsay J Sedgwick which cover the basics of plotting. She says that while you may feel you know your characters and know your story has legs you could end up grinding to a halt if you don’t plot beforehand. She says ‘If the structure is the blueprint of how you intend people to react to your film, the plot is how you design the ride.’ In these articles, she discusses the nuts and bolts of plotting and considering the bigger picture when you do plot.


While planning a novel is not an exact science, Jennifer Burke is convinced it is necessary. You might not need a plan at the start, but once you have a few scenes written you should really start to think about how you are going to stitch them all together. She uses a great analogy of a compass. If you went hiking in the woods, you wouldn’t spend the entire time staring at your compass – you’d miss the scenery. But it’s a comfort to know the compass is there, and it will guide you when you start to stray.


Sarah Webb is a planner and, in this article, she interviews Martina Reilly who is not a planner. So you have both views to compare. They discuss how much planning they do before starting a book, if they use storyboards, and editing the first draft.


Chrystyna talks about how when writing her first novels she was a complete panster and it made really hard work of the process. She shares a story of a couple who had some windows and approached an architect to plan a house around them. This is exactly what Chrystyna did when approaching her historical fiction series. It was taking forever to get any single book finished so she forced herself to make an outline. It made her more precise about what she was looking for. That’s not to say that she doesn’t hit surprises along the way. Her characters still find their voices and lead her to different ideas. She tells us that even if you take detours, you can find your way back if you have a plan.


Sam Blake tells us in this article that she needs to have the framework of a story in place when she writes. She shares a picture of a grid table with about thirty chapters on it. It doesn’t mean that she sticks rigidly to it, characters can lead you astray but the overview helps to see the turning points of the story and who comes in where. Sam explains that Catherine Ryan Howard uses a similar system with coloured post-it notes which is also shared in this article. She likes to use them as signposts along the way.


To plot or not to plot, that is the question. Plot points can help you to structure your story and determine the order in which events of your story happen and the timing of when they should happen. There are many different ways of plotting your story and in this Really Useful Links column I have put together a selection of articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos about different plotting methods.

There is a lot of information and advice to digest here and my advice to you would be to think about how plotting might work for you and your story. Try a few methods. You might even find that plot holes or problems with your story will show up when you try the different plotting methods and this will give you a chance to figure out how to fix them. As always with writing, there isn’t a one size fits all so give plotting a go and see what happens. It might change your writing life! I hope you have enjoyed this week’s column. If there are any topics you would like me to cover then please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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