Plotting Basics

Earlier this week I posted about November being National Novel Writing Month. Even if you aren’t officially participating in the event, you might pose yourself a similar challenge over the course of 30 days. Some of us have story ideas practically oozing from our skin, while others are just left with the passion to write but don’t have the tiniest clue about what. I came across a fun (in my lame writing nerd opinion) article on Slate that talked about Wycliff Aber Hill’s 1919 manual for screenwriters. Screenwriter or not, you will find his plotting section helpful. His claim was that there are only 37 basic dramatic situations that can be used to start plotting for your story. I thought this to be pretty cool because it shows how basic plotting can start off as. You don’t need an intricate web of interlocking events right from the start. All you need is a basic idea for your plot’s ‘situation’ and you will be surprised what you can do with it once you start writing. Hopefully these suggestions will light the fire to your very own novel writing month. I outlined the basics below, but click the link above to get more details.



  1. Rescue
  2. Lost loved ones recovered.
  3. A miracle of God.


  1. Entreaty.
  2. Love’s obstacles.
  3. Rivalry between unequals.
  4. Rivalry between kinsmen.
  5. A mystery


  1. Loving an enemy.
  2. Sacrifice of one’s self for an ordeal.
  3. Sacrifice for one’s self for kindred (or friend).


  1. Possessed of an ambition.
  2. Fatal indiscretion.
  3. Pursuit.
  4. Rebellion.
  5. Enmity between kinsmen.
  6. Effort to obtain.
  7. Daring effort.
  8. Vengeance.
  9. Kindred avenged against kindred.
  10. Mistaken jealousy.
  11. Involuntary criminal love.


  1. Struggle against God.
  2. Abduction.
  3. To sacrifice all for a passion.
  4. Adultery.
  5. Adultery with murder.
  6. Criminal love.


  1. Loved ones lost.
  2. Falling a prey.
  3. Disaster.
  4. An innocent suspected.
  5. Obligation to sacrifice loved ones.
  6. To learn of the dishonor of a loved one.
  7. Mental derangement.
  8. To kill a kinsmen or friend before recognition.
  9. Remorse

Write on.

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