Tuesday, May 06, 2008

One-Page Plotting

One of my writer friends (you know who you are) dared me to simplify a plot worksheet down to one page that would work for all story lengths and genres. Of course I couldn't resist the challenge, so here it is (I plotted John & Marcia's story to demonstrate how to use it):

Plot Worksheet

Title: Angel’s Darkness

Main Conflict: John, a half-demon cop, and Marcia, a half-angel librarian, must stop a demon from using a mystical diamond that has the power to open the gates of Hell.


John must accept or reject his demonic side. John has always denied and hidden his non-human powers, but is now forced to use them to protect Marcia and defeat the demon.

Marcia must accept or reject her human side. Marcia has always tried to live up to her angelic nature, but her love for John and hatred for the demon makes her face her human nature.

The demon falls in love with Marcia, and must choose to destroy the world or rule over it with Marcia at his side.

Main Story Events:

John and Marcia meet on the night the demon steals the diamond; the demon uses Marcia to smuggle the diamond away from its guardian.

The demon forces John and Marcia to go on the run in order to protect the diamond and evade his attacks.

John and Marcia discover the diamond’s true purpose when they open Hell’s gateway for a moment and see what the demon intends to unleash on Earth.

The demon disables John, abducts Marcia and tries to seduce her into giving him the diamond.

Marcia must sacrifice her angelic powers in order to free John, vanquish the demon and keep the world safe.

Main Plot Twist: John is unaware that he has another persona, and that he is also the demon thief.

Resolution: Marcia’s love for John ends her hope of becoming an angel, but also destroys the evil side of his personality. Together they become a loving human couple, and the new guardians of the diamond.

This worksheet can be adapted to your particular writing needs, so feel free to add and subtract -- you may want more/less subplots, main events, plot twists, other elements, etc -- but I think these are the basic points any storyteller* should know before they dive into writing a story. For novelists, it may also serve as a basic outline sheet for writing a synopsis.

*Unless you're an organic writer or you dislike plotting, in which case, you don't need the worksheet.


  1. This looks like a handy tool for getting some of my ideas into shape.

  2. I think this would even work for organic writers. I don't like outlining too much before I write, but I do need *something* to get me started... This seems ideal. Also a good idea re. synopsis writing.


  3. Is this one on your scribd page?

  4. I use something very similar for writing a synopsis but I'm adding your Main Plot Twist which is something I hadn't thought of.

    This is terrific!

  5. Anonymous9:01 PM

    As an organic writer, I can say something like this is actually very useful. For the second draft, as I try to whip the chaotic mass of the first draft into some kind of coherent shape.

  6. That's a really good idea. I've been having problems to focus my stories on one plot because I always get new input or have new ideas while I write. thanks for sharing!

  7. I'm an organic writer, but I like to have some idea of where the story's going. Otoh, if I tie myself down to an outline, I can't write a word.

    And further, until I have some kind of plot, an idea will not turn into a story.

    Hmm. No wonder I haven't written anything substantial in nearly two years!


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