Structure & Plot Tools for Story Telling

At a panel I gave on Plot and Structure I mentioned a number of resources I have found useful for quick plotting and general writer’s-block-busting.

For convenience here is the definitive list of links. I will try to update it as I find new ones.

  1. 7 Point Plot Structure by Dan Wells– Great for Hacking your brain, this structure is best plotted out NOT in chronological order. It’s great especially for pantsers because it lets you get down the basics without ruining a lot of details. I also find it works as a macro series plotter down to a micro scene plotter.
  2. Anatomy of a Story by John Truby–  Probably the most exaustive resource for delving into story structure and theory. I find it useful to read and refer back to but too detailed to go through all 22 steps. Still having it’s lessons in the back of my head helps.
  3. Take off Your Pants – Outline Your Books for Faster Better Writing by Libbie Hawker – This takes the high brow ideas of Anatomy and makes them concise and actionable. She also has some of the best advice on pacing I have seen yet. So if you want to write a book that reader’s can’t put down pick this one up.
  4. M.I.C.E. Quotient by Orson Scott Card – this is great for right at the beginning of a story creation. It helps you figure out your nature opening and beginning scenes and what sort of reader expectations you will have to fulfill. This delves into story type that goes beyond genre. You can read it in Card’s own words from his book or listen to Writing Excuses’s explanation of it.
  5. Writing Excuses Podcast– this short podcast has become part of my writing routine in helping me get into the right head space before I hit the keys.
  6. Brandon Sanderson’s Lecture Series – It’s a bit long but has some solid gems in there. If you want to make excellent plot twists, this is the master to learn from.
  7. Hague’s 6 Stages – great for coming up with my character arc and connecting internal actions and external ones. It’s also one of the few structures I have seen that break the 3 act structure and rethink it.