Thursday, May 1, 2014


By Molly Noble Bull

Take a look at Gatehaven.
 A published author once told me that my stories were weak because I didn’t know how to plot, and she was right. I didn’t—until I learned to line-plot. In a nutshell, a line plot is the plot for an entire novel in one sentence.
Yep. I said one sentence.
To be honest, that sentence is often very long.
Here’s how it works.

Part One of a line-plot
.   Names the viewpoint character.
.   Introduces the opposing character.
.   Tells the viewpoint character’s goal.
.   Part One ends with the word because.

Why because?

The word because forces the author to develop a major conflict so strong it seems impossible to resolve.

Part Two of a line-plot
.   Part two tells why the major conflict cannot be resolved by answering the because question—telling why the viewpoint character cannot reach his or her goal.  

Now, let’s write a line-plot. It can be fun once you get the hang of it.
There are several genre’s to choose from when writing a plot in one sentence. Besides the romance novel, there are westerns, science fiction novels, thrillers and more, and in each plot there are always two sides—the good guys and the bad guys.
At first, I had a hard time understanding how there could be two sides in a sweet romance. Romance novels are stories about love. Right?
All novels are about conflict. Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl. Without conflict, there is no story. So let’s start with the romance novel and name our viewpoint character.
Let’s call her Laura Ames. 
.   Laura is our main/viewpoint character. The story is told through her eyes.
We also need another character, Rob Branson.
.   Rob is our opposing character.  
Now, Laura tells her goal.
.   Laura’s goal is to have Rob in her future.
.   Though Laura and Rob have feelings for each other, their romance can never end happily ever after BECAUSE . . . .
.   Unknown to Laura, Rob is engaged to Susan, Laura’s older sister.

Plot in one sentence.

College freshman, Laura Ames, is honored when her secret crush from high school, Rob Branson, starts showing an interested in her after she joins the university debate team, but her dream of a future with Rob can never end happily BECAUSE unknown to Laura, Rob is engaged to Susan, Laura’s older sister.

Part Three of a line-plot tells how the story ends—tells how the major conflict is resolved. In a romance, Laura and Rob would somehow get together. But in a mainstream novel, they might go their separate ways.

Remember the published author that told me my plots were weak? Well, now she insists that plotting is one of my strongest points as a published novelist. Maybe line-plotting will work for you, too.

(479 words)

Molly Noble Bull is a multi-published, prize winning author and a native Texan, publishing novels with Zondervan and Love Inspired. In 2011, Molly and four other authors published The Overcomers; Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities via Westbow Press, and it was a finalist in the Women of Faith contest out of almost 6,000 entries. Sanctuary, Molly's long historical, won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence and tied for first prize in the Winter Rose contest that same year. Gatehaven, her Christian Gothic historical, won the grand prized in the 2013 Creation House Fiction Writing Contest as a manuscript, and it was published in trade paperback and as an e-book on March 4, 2014.
Turn on your sound. Click below to see and hear Gatehaven’s sort of scary, one minute book trailer.    

Take a look at GATEHAVEN and check out my plotting skills for yourself.