Plot structure is something we hear people talking about constantly, but what exactly is plot? Plot is the organization of events that give the story logic. We describe the sequence of events in a story as the plot.
So, when many will argue that character journey is one of the most important aspect of the outline, the plot structure is critical to reveal that journey. Its a culmination of events, which gradually rise in pressure, until ultimately revealing the story peak of the story.
The plot provides us with the events that put pressure on the characters, pushing them out of their comfort zones– to face their fears, and make tough decisions– and ultimately, forcing them to change. After (or during) the initial draft of a novel, it is helpful to have a good examine the plot. The bare bones of the story. I like to think about it as the way you would explain your story to another person.
This could be done by writing a sentence summarising each scene, one after the next. (Also very handy to have when it comes time to write your synopsis!). When you have your plot before you, without the character emotion, without the tension, the humor, the satire, or whatever it may be, you can see clearly if your story works or if it doesn’t.
With a few written pages, it is easy to see holes in your storyline. You may see that character 1 should have been present in scene 7 if he were to know what was happening in scene 15. You might discover that the main character’s sister needed to be with her husband in scene 20 so she had someone to back her up in scene 28. You might even see that it may not be the most ideal option to draw a gun in scene 44, but wait for later in the story – maybe scene 100. Really, it is just a way to zoom out a little, and see the story as a whole.
Once you’ve analysed your plot, you can cut and paste, or shuffle scenes around to identify what works best– an enormously helpful timesaver! Then when it is time for the re-write, you can emphasize your writing style knowing that you’ve already nailed the story structure.