Review: Plotting Your Novel With The Plot Clock

Plotting Your Novel With The Plot Clock

Author: Joyce Sweeney, Jamie Morris, Tia Levings
Giantess Press
2019
ISBN #978-0-578-47780-0

“Plotting Your Novel With The Plot Clock” is a short (70 page) book that packs a wallop! It addresses the issue of how to handle the plot for a story in a manner that moves the story forward in a manner that keeps readers hanging in there. In his foreword, Ryan G. Van Cleave, Head of Creative Writing, Ringling College of Art and Design, notes that one of the biggest challenges aspiring fiction writers face is that of effectively handling plot. I find this type of plotting interesting, although I personally am a “pantser” – my stories are written by the seat of my pants, without a lot of intricate pre-planning.

The first thing that caught my attention with this book was that there were three co-authors. Duh! The reason that it caught my attention is that I have co-authored two books myself (with writer/coach Brad Tesh), and I know that it can be difficult to present more than one point of view. Do you present in different sections? Do you cover different topics? Do you comment on a section that your co-author wrote? I like the way it was handled in this book – all three co-authors express their opinions and tell their stories in every chapter. Specifically, the authors see their collaboration as weaving their voices into a braid, with Joyce voicing the central skeleton of the Plot Clock structure, Jaimie guiding insights into plot twists, and Tia woven in as student action – a writer applying these elements to a story being actively plotted as the book progresses.

The interesting thing about the Plot Clock is that, by definition, it is circular, rather than linear. Points around the clock include: Starting Point, Ordinary World, Inciting Event, Binding Point, Tests & Challenges Failed, Low Point, The Change, Tests & Challenges Won, Turning Point, Climax, and Denouement.

Each chapter includes a discussion of the process of the Plot Clock points, with wisdom from each of the co-authors.  Included are chapters on Stories & Plot, The Hands of Time, The Depths of Story Time, Case Study, Q&A, Templates, and Resources and Acknowledgments. I particularly liked the templates, because they included a Basic Pot Clock, a Complex Clock Plot, Tragedy on the Plot Clock, a Clock Plot with four basic points, and a blank Plot Clock. This allows a pantser like me to make use of this structure without being completely enmeshed in it.

I recommend this book to both pantsers and plotters – there is something here for everyone!

© April 2019 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

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