The Ultimate Plotting Tool for Pantsers: Your Novel in 12 Sentences

The Ultimate Plotting Tool for Pantsers

I fully know the joys of completely winging it through an entire novel. That’s how I wrote Through the Fog. I had no idea how the story would end. Most days I had no idea how that chapter would end.

It’s fun, but it results in one of two things

  1. endless rewrites, or
  2. a substandard story.

I am well aware that Through the Fog falls into the latter category. Foreshadowing? Theme? Supreme stakes? Pretty much missing.

When I learned more writing craft I realized I could retrofit Through the Fog or do better next time.

Then from Larry Brooks I learned another way.

I’ll never be an outliner. I rarely use outlines for anything, though occasionally a business book has suffered the indignity. I absolutely thrive on the spontaneity of story telling.

I just don’t thrive on rewriting it a dozen times.

Brooks shares a tool for making sure you hit the 12 (yes there are 12) critical waypoints in your novel. Prepare these 12 points in advance and you can pants your way from one to the next spontaneous as the weather but always headed more or less the right direction.

Over the next 12 days I’m going to introduce each of these to you and give you a way to plan your novel without destroying your spontaneity. As Larry says, they may be great Faulknerian sentences, but stating each of these in a single sentence will give you a clear easy-to-follow path through your novel.

The 12 Waypoints

  1. Hook
  2. Setup
  3. First Plot Point
  4. Response
  5. First Pinch Point
  6. Midpoint
  7. Attack
  8. Second Pinch Point
  9. All is Lost Moment
  10. Second Plot Point
  11. Climax
  12. Resolution

We’ll talk a bit about each, but of course, if you want the full story, you’ll want Larry’s Book, Story Engineering, or if you prefer a less academic take, K. M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel. Both Excellent.

My Pathfinding Session for fiction authors will dredge up these 12 sentences from the secret place they’re hiding in the back of your mind. It’s $1,000 worth of writing coaching for only $325. Follow this link to read about it and sign up.

10 thoughts on “The Ultimate Plotting Tool for Pantsers: Your Novel in 12 Sentences

  1. Thanks for this summary, Joel! I loved Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering, and I’m looking forward to going through each of your posts. Breaking out the plot points is so helpful for staying on track.

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