I have always had trouble with plotting, so I’m a big fan of collecting working solutions to planning the plot. Today I’m posting the latest in my personal collection of plot diagrams, something I’ve put together based on the best plot diagrams I’ve found and used. Here is my plot paradigm with some explanation…
(You can download this image as a pdf file.)
The black line at the top is, of course, the classic Aristotelian 3-act structure, where Act 2 is twice as long as Acts 1 and 3, and the form is set-up, confrontation, and resolution.
Below that in green are the stages of the Hero’s Journey as outlined by Christopher Vogler in his now-classic writer’s guide The Writer’s Journey, based upon the research of Joseph Campbell.
In brown are the turning points defined for screenplays by the late Syd Field; they also apply perfectly to novels. You can find out more about these points in his books and DVDs.
In blue, I’ve placed the plot line defined by Martha Alderson in her Plot Whisperer books and workbooks. What I particularly like about this plot line is that it shows how tension increases to two high points, the Crisis and the Climax.
And in red, I’ve added the 14 “Signpost Scenes” defined by James Scott Bell in his Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure. I like the way that these signpost scene definitions are more colloquial than Vogler’s and add a few nuances, like “care package” and “pet the dog.”
I hope this diagram is useful to you!