The 8 Essential Questions . . . or How To Plot Your Novel In 5 Minutes

Adron J. Smitley
2 min readJun 21, 2020

Want to plot a novel in 5 minutes? That’s good. Want to decide whether your story is worth writing before you spend countless hours writing it? That’s real good. Then answer these eight essential questions, which define the most important parts of your overall story’s plot, in one specific sentence each:

1. (Inciting Incident) What is the Inciting Incident that happens to your Protagonist which first disturbs their normal, everyday world, connecting them to the Antagonist while setting off the chain-reaction of your story that all things afterwards happen because of?

2. (Plot Turn 1) Why and how does your Protagonist finally decide to commit to solving your story’s main problem?

3. (Pinch Point) What is the First Obstacle for your Protagonist that represents the Antagonist’s forces in some way while also showing some part of your Protagonist’s character growth?

4. (Midpoint/Reversal) What does your Protagonist learn the truth about that raises the stakes while changing everything from this point forward so that they swear to resolve it because Now, it’s personal?

5. (Punch Point) What happens to your Protagonist that strips them of their Allies and resources to the point that the Antagonist seemingly wins?

6. (Plot Turn 2) What needed inspiration does your Protagonist receive that takes them out from their lowest point and propels them into a new plan of attack against the Antagonist?

7. (Subplot Wrap-ups) How are all remaining subplots outside of your Protagonist resolved while they implement their new plan of attack against the Antagonist and their last remaining forces?

8. (Climax/Resolution) How does your Protagonist defeat the Antagonist one-on-one as only your Protagonist can (or die trying)?

If you plotted well then you now have a logically plotted outline you will build the rest of your story around, because:

#1 happens toward the beginning of Act 1.

#2 at the end of Act 1.

#3 in the middle of Act 2A.

#4 at the end of Act 2A.

#5 in the middle of Act 2B.

#6 at the end of Act 2B.

#7 is the first half of Act 3.

#8 is the last half of Act 3.

If you plotted not so well, guess what? All you did was spend 5 minutes of your time learning your story was not so hot after all. Got another 5 minutes? Then plot another outline, silly!

Happy writing!

Essential plotting guide for both Plotters and Pantsers. Amazon: $6.99 paperback, $2.99 digital, or FREE with Kindle Unlimited!



Adron J. Smitley

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