Plot is a verb


Plot is a verb. Often new writers will wax poetic about the internal working of their characters, an example is a character who hates mirrors. Hating mirrors is not an action. Hating mirrors is an internal emotion, a passive thing. To bring your novel to the next level and sell it to a publisher, you need to take the passive in your book and make it active. Plot requires action.

So instead of having the character simply hate mirrors, you would create a scene where that hatred of mirrors plays out.

You could, for example, do backstory about the character getting lost in a funhouse as a child, a funhouse full of warped mirrors. And you could pair their getting lost in this place that reflected them back as gruesome monstrous characters to an event in their lives, some trauma that became inextricably tied to those funhouse mirrors. Let’s say the character walked in on one of their parents having an affair, just at the same time as all the neighbor kids were waiting to go to the local fair. So, the kid runs out of the house, undetected by the parent, unwilling and unable to speak of the two-headed monster they’ve just witnessed in their parents’ bedroom, arrives at the fair, and in their state of stress, enters the funhouse, but becomes confused and horrified, and panics in the hall of mirrors.

So, one line in your novel about a character hating mirrors, becomes an entire contextual scene. This is what they mean by Plot is a Verb.

Also, I’m discovering that the current state of the publishing world, as it too is affected by the financial crisis, requires much more plot-driven narratives. Plot sells. Even if you’re writing a literary novel, if you’re serious about getting published, consider how you would add a backbone of plot.

I’m a writing coach:


One thought on “Plot is a verb

  1. Ironically I thought this was a poem and was going to congratulate you on a very original title and concept. Plot IS a verb. But I will thank you for the inspiration because now I’m going to go write a poem using the title. It’s almost like a betrayal thing. I can see it. Still you are quite correct as far as your post. I know a lot of people who don’t take the time to “plot” out their stories and just start writing haphazardly. If I remember from school way back way back when, a story has three parts. A beginning, a middle and an end. I always start at the end, that way i have a destination. Unfortunately i don’t feel story telling is my forte although my webmaster would tell me different. I just don’t have the patience. I have one story posted in the month of Aug 08 in “acts & scenes” I spent 5 years writing and rewriting a 17 page fairytale. But I did have the “plot” in my head the whole time, I always knew how it was going to end. But as I was writing it I incorperated other ideas that to maintain any continuity to it I would always go back to the beginning and make adjustments throughout. Still I’m proud of it. I can without a doubt say it is the only thing I would want to publish, and its not like I haven’t had offers its just that… I don’t know. That’s another story on its own. Thank you.


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