So what exactly is a plot?

Entrance signA story is a series of events recorded in their chronological order.

A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged to reveal the dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance of the events.

Barthe DeClements said: “Get your character in trouble in the first sentence and out of trouble in the last sentence. Pacing of plots is crucial; never give the reader a place to put the story down. This focus on tension on every page begins at the stage of slogging out a plot and continues till the last copyedit.”

A Plot is the bare bones of a story – it a series of events which is driven by the protagonist’s attempt to resolve a source of conflict. The protagonist’s actions and reactions to a set of problems, obstacles, or ordeals guide the plot. I believe that the main cause of writers block is not having a well thought out plot before you start. Having a guide allows you to know exactly what you want to happen in the next scene.

To me, to write a story of any size without a plan or plot is like going on a journey without a map or GPS. But some writers feel it limits them to only writing what was contained in the plot, and doesn’t leave room for any of those great leaps of the imagination that can take them in all sorts of surprising directions. That is not how it works. Plot lines are only a guide. As creative ideas emerge, most writers adjust their plot line to suit.

I think P.G. Wodehouse said it best: “The principle I always go on in writing a novel is to think of the characters in terms of actors in a play. I say to myself, if a big name were playing this part, and if he found that after a strong first act he had practically nothing to do in the second act, he would walk out.

“I believe the only way a writer can keep himself up to the mark is by examining each story quite coldly before he starts writing it and asking himself it is all right as a story.

“I mean, once you go saying to yourself, “This is a pretty weak plot as it stands, but I’m such a hell of a writer that my magic touch will make it okay,” you’re sunk.

“If they aren’t in interesting situations, characters can’t be major characters, not even if you have the rest of the troop talk their heads off about them.” (Interview, The Paris Review, Issue 64, Winter 1975)” ― P.G. Wodehouse

The plotting workshop on April 18th at Gondor Writers’ Centre shows you how to build a story structure that will give you direction but not restrict the creativity of the process of developing your story. It covers the questions you need to ask to move the story forward, scene by scene.

To book phone 54 981 332 or go to

This is workshop is followed by;

A two day workshop: April 25th and 26th from 10 am to 4 pm both days. Tutor: Sheryl Gwyther

Day one: Crafting unforgettable characters: Story characters underpin their stories plot. If not fully developed they’re like paper-dolls. This hands on workshop will teach you how to create engaging, believable characters.

Day two: Writing successful stories. In this workshop, you will write a story using characters you developed yesterday.

These workshops are meant to follow each other, but you may choose to do only one of them if you wish.

Two day workshop cost $160 per person. One day $80. Accommodation can be arranged if required. Ask for the cost when you book.  Phone 54 981 332 to book, or go to for more information on these workshops and the rest of the year’s program.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tom
    Apr 10, 2015 @ 10:04:15

    An excellent post and if I may say so, one which voices many points I’ve made in the past. Now following, and at the earliest opportunity I’ll get back to catch up on the previous posts. Thank you for a good, level-headed explanation.


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