Stuck on Brainstorming Your Plot?

I get emails from teen writers who are frustrated with how to move forward with their stories. Most are stuck because their stories are too short. They have ideas they love, but there are big holes in their story that keep it from moving forward.

When this happens to me, I need to brainstorm.  I’ve mentioned in other posts that I like to start with five sentences that show the start of the story, acts one, two, three, and the end of the story. (Click here to read more about these five sentences.)

Once I’ve got those down, I create an outline to brainstorm on. I put my five sentences in the outline, then add any other scenes I have where they fit into the outline. I leave lots of spaces in between the sentences, then print it out and sit down with a pencil and brainstorm where there are holes in the story. I think about each character’s motivation and what they might do that will get them to the scene in the next act.

So it might look something like this. I’ve used my first book for an example. I didn’t fill this in all the way so that you could see how yours might look.

*Story opening: Slave guy–Achan–is off to milk the goats, sees a kid getting picked on, steps in to help him and gets into a fight. A knight–Sir Gavin–approaches him and offers to train him as a squire–even though this is against the law for slaves to train to someday become knights.

-Achan starts training with Sir Gavin in secret


*Climax of act 1: Achan is declared a squire, but he’s hearing voices in his head and thinks he’s going nuts.

-Achan gets to fight in a tournament–gets caught by Lord of manor.
–Sir Gavin is banished
-Achan is punished by being made the prince’s sparring partner.

-The girl Achan loves has to marry another guy.


-The prince leaves for the Council meeting and takes Achan along.


*Climax of act 2: Poroo attack the prince’s procession and Achan is struck down in a battle.
-Achan awakes in a dungeon–accused of leading prince into danger.
-Achan meets Vrell (other main character)

-Achan is rescued by Sir Gavin and his buddies.
-Vrell is used as bait to get Achan back
-Achan and the knights rescue Vrell

*Climax of act 3: The giant surprise– Sir Gavin takes Achan before the Council of Seven and reveals a shocking secret.

*Story ending: Achan, Sir Gavin, and Vrell flee into Darkness to get away from the evil prince.

I’ve created a blank plot sheet to help you. Click here to download it. What do you think? Do you find this process helpful? If not, how do you deal with plot holes?

One Response to “Stuck on Brainstorming Your Plot?”

  1. This is very helpful info! Thanks for the plot sheet, too! 🙂

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