Lake Plotsalot . . . or the Ten-Sentence Pantser Plot Outline

Adron J. Smitley
2 min readMay 7, 2022

Writers exist on a broad spectrum.

At one end are Pantsers, those who write by the seat of their pants and never plan ahead because they enjoy the wonder of the journey over its final destination. At the other end are Plotters, those who plan everything out in meticulous detail before writing it down because they look forward to the journey’s satisfying end the most.

Most writers exist somewhere in the middle of this spectrum as some combination of both, and here we’re going to focus on Pantsers who wish to dip their curious toes into Lake Plotsalot but have no intention of diving in for the wonderful swim.

The most basic plot is simple, really.

Act 1: Introduce the story’s central conflict.

Act 2A: Develop the story’s central conflict.

Midpoint: Complicate the story’s central conflict.

Act 2B: Intensify the story’s central conflict.

Act 3: Resolve the story’s central conflict.

And so is the most common subplot that is typically the Love Story.

Act 1: Boy meets Girl.

Act 2A: Boy gets Girl.

Midpoint: Boy and Girl have sex.

Act 2B: Boy loses Girl.

Act 3: Boy gets Girl back.

If you’re a Pantser who wishes only to plot by the slightest margin then those two plots interwoven are all you really need. But how do you utilize them? Write one concise sentence describing each plot point, interweave them as according to their Acts, and voila you have just plotted the most basic outline imaginable.

And if you’re unsure what story you want to write? Then here’s an old and proven standby, the Classic Quest Plot: an object to obtain and limited time to obtain it.

Don’t like that one? Then toss it aside for another method of discovering your story because every protagonist seeks one of three things:

1. Possession of something.

2. Relief from something.

3. Revenge for something.

There you have it, Pantsers, the most basic of everything you need to write your next great novel courtesy of plot.

Happy writing!


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Adron J. Smitley

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