Which Plotting Technique is Right for you?

I so desperately wanted to make the right/write pun in the title, but I resisted. I’ve seen a lot of different plotting techniques on Pinterest and I couldn’t decide what was right for me (again the pun…). I’ve seen everything from plot boards to book binders to idea webs, but my first mistake was trying to do them all. Don’t get me wrong, doing a bunch of different plotting techniques may work for some, but it tends to get really confusing for most. I try to use a couple in different stages of planning. Here’s a few different techniques to help with your plotting.

1. Outlining

The first technique I saw a lot of people suggesting was outlining. I think outlining didn’t grasp my attention at first was because I’d been forced to do outlines for school and I hated it. The more I started to outline for my stories, the more I actually found it helpful. Outlines tend to be for writer’s that are all about organization, but keep in mind that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s for those who need or want to add more detail and it will essentially make writing your story easier overall.

2. Plot Boarding

For those of you who aren’t familiar with plot boarding, it usually involves one of those tri-fold cardboard display boards and some sticky notes. Each section of the board represents either Act I,  II, or III. You stick the post it notes that have different parts of your story on them in their respective acts. I think plot boards are for the writers that work best with visuals. It gives you the space and the freedom to move scenes around. It can also help you keep track of characters and sub plots (different colored sticky notes).

3. Scene List

I use the scene list all the time even though I find it less structured than the outline. It’s for those writer, like me who can work with a bit of untidiness. This is better for those writers that just need to write things out sometimes. I typically use it as an extreme rough draft of an outline. I don’t always put it in order so I take what I write in my scene list and put it in an outline. I see scene lists as the gateway of plotting, it’s better for me to  write everything out before I put it in order.

4. Book Binder

The book binder is for the extreme planner and is basically the holy grail of your book. All of the information you need is in one place. Outline, character list, scene list and so much more. I’ve wanted to do a book binder for my novel, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. If want to have everything you need to know about your book all planned out then I’d definitely suggest the book binder. I’ll put some links below that will show how to make one.

5. Idea Map

Idea maps are definitely for the visual writer, if you like to see things before you write then this is for you. I used to idea maps in elementary school, but I don’t remember doing them anytime after.  I’m not that much of a visual person when it comes to writing so I don’t really do them, but I made a basic one just so you could see what it looked like.

Idea webIdea webs could be pretty helpful if you want to keep track of where your story is going, but you can’t easily switch it around like the plot board. However, if you use a computer, changing it shouldn’t be too hard.

I hope you enjoyed some of the techniques here. Some of them are pretty fun to try so if you have the time try a couple and see which ones work for you.




Plot Boarding:





Scene List:


Book Binder:



14 thoughts on “Which Plotting Technique is Right for you?

  1. I’m generally a very unorganised person but when it comes to writing my novel, every major part of my plot has been outlined, the links made, character development planned, it’s really quite incredible to think all I really have to do is follow my plan to finish my book. I’m always adding bits in, but it works really well because of how organised things are

    Liked by 1 person

      • As this is my first ever novel, it’s been a huge learning curve, but the actual book itself is shaping to be incredible… I’m honestly excited at the thought of being able to read the finished novel myself, especially with my most recent plot addition – sorry I can’t share its top secret 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s completely fine 🙂 i understand. It’s my first novel too but i use outlining for short stories as well. I’m glad you’re so far along in your book


  2. The idea map is good for getting your head around causality. You can follow events from different angles and see how they connect, via their disparate journeys. Write the event, and from that write each consequence, and what those consequences in turn cause ripples through the world.

    It’s also good for time lines: you can have intertwining events from different characters’ perspectives and see where they interact and keep an eye on which character knows what.

    Good luck with the novel!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Jordan! I definitely did the outline to start my book and then as I wrote found that the story took on a life of it’s own, the characters started directing where things were going, the tone and even the changes in plot line. The overall storyline stayed the same, but how I got there changed considerably. It’s interesting and so cool how many methods there are for writers to use! Thanks for sharing, will be adding all these to my list and trying them out for the next book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you found it helpfuk Nicolette! I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do. I might make a book binder (which still requires an outline) and see if that helps

      Liked by 1 person

      • Though it can feel disheartening later, you could also try just writing and seeing where things lead, sort of like freewriting through the story. You most likely will cut a lot out later through revision, which is why it may be hard later, but the plus is that you can explore the storyline, plot and characters more without worrying about how you’re getting from ‘a’ to ‘b’.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I like to do that if I’m blocked for some reason. Free writing gives me ideas for other stories more than it will for my novel. Sometimes I have these wierd “in sleep” ideas like i did last night to use one of my original ideas in the story

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