Story structure going off course OR The Liquid Plot.

As the writing rhythm begins to settle, I’m facing a particularly difficult issue with story structure. As the word count deepens, I’m further and further off track with the overarching plot.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to resort to Photoshop for this one. So here is the expected breakdown of scenes that I wanted to follow…



And here we go with what has actually happened in the first two months of writing…



So I’m struggling to keep things on the straight and narrow. Scenes that I thought might be a mere turn of the head and notice something have fanned flames and added in whole new characters, dialogue and memories.

It’s thrilling to see the story start to take on it’s own life, but also scary. I’ve set myself a goal and I’m worried that this overspill is a danger. Having only just surpassed 5,000 words and I’m aiming to step up my word count in the next months, is this not a recipe for an unfinished book? Or at best, a mismatch horror?

To be honest, if it has to be a mismatched horror at first draft, then so be it. I’m happy with that.

Using The Liquid Plot

So this is the plan – to use a kind of “Liquid Plot” from here on in. So instead of writing within the conformity of the first structure above, the overarching plan now will look like this:


The idea would be to establish key notes within the story, not necessarily set scenes, but vital turning points. What happens between those points is pure exploration. Quite scary, but I like it.

So, now I’ve settled on a schematic, I’m going to go away, tear up the plot arch I had and try and distill the story into a few essential moments. Key components of this moments would be:

  • Who is necessary to be there
  • Where it is
  • What happens just before
  • What happens afterwards

These moments are then like stones in water, hence, The Liquid Plot. The water is the creative areas that connect the islands of concrete structure. At least, that’s what I’m calling it for now. I might be cursing it in a few weeks time. I’m sure there are other writing guides with the same liquidy idea out there, with improved versions of something like this, but I’m stretched for time (and word count) and I’d rather leap with the direction that seems right at this moment. So onwards and blindly upwards… yet always forward.

Hopefully this is the right kind of structure for me. Whichever way, I’m about to find out.

It’s Day 63 of 365… wow, that’s quite far in already. That’s what she said.

Thanks for reading

– Tom

By | 2018-03-26T15:30:26+00:00 April 4th, 2017|How To Write A Book, Month Three, Year One|2 Comments

About the Author:

I'm thirty five this year and for work I run my own small website/digital design business. I have a best friend and luckily she is also my wife. This is all capped off with our three year old daughter, who is the greatest/messiest thing ever. I'm writing One Book One Year to kick my own ass into gear with a long term dream, otherwise I'll never do it.


  1. LSDBaby May 5, 2017 at 3:19 pm - Reply

    Nothing wrong with a liquid plot. Surely it just means the story will be well lubricated?

    Let it flow buddy. Think of it like one of those ancient expeditions from long ago. They had some vague idea of where they wanted to get to (mostly remote islands with nubile young women and menfolk armed with nothing but mangoes) but the journey frequently went off course. Maybe you’ll end up in the West Indies. Maybe an enchanted island. Where ever it may be, it’ll make for a great story.

    Just avoid the dysentery and remember; what happens at sea, stays at sea. 😉

    • Tom May 5, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      Yep, totally agree with you and I think a lubricated plot is the way forward. To be honest, right now it has to be.

      I’m starting to realise that the editing portion of all of this is becoming more and more important – since I’m not looking back and just writing forwards, I’m getting caught in a few inconsistency loops that will have to be ironed out, straightened up and made to look purposeful. Not easy when they subject matter is LASER SPACE ZOMBIE CTHULHU… no no that’s a joke. But definitely the occasional laser in there.

      Cheers buddy 🙂 What happens in space, stays in space.

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