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Not Losing the Plot

The road to unforgettable storytelling.

Story is crucial to any novel. It holds a book together, unites characters and subplots, and keeps the reader where the author wants them ... engrossed in their book. Getting it right is vital to a novel’s success.

It seems straightforward and obvious, but an inadvertent obfuscation of plot is something that I come across regularly when editing fiction of all types, as creative enthusiasm tempts authors astray.



In my experience, many writers know deep down that their narrative has gone off piste, but cannot always identify where their navigational skills went slightly wonky.

It usually boils down to one of the following:

  • Overcomplicating the story

  • Concentrating on issues, or themes, at the expense of story – literally losing the plot!

  • Writing too much, or

  • Drafting a series before completing the first instalment.

Getting lost

Seeing the bigger picture is easier when you're not immersed in the project, but if you suspect that your book might be suffering from any or several of the above problems, try asking yourself:

  • Are you trying to do too much within the confines of one book?

  • Has the basic story disappeared beneath a plethora of weighty issues?

  • Is your novel too long for your chosen genre?

  • And how many stories are you actually trying to write?


Finding your way back

Is it possible to rediscover where you're supposed to be in the labyrinth of plot conundrums? Absolutely!

Stand back. Take a breath. Be critical, albeit constructively and dispassionately. What do you think is getting in the way of your storytelling? Can you fix it on your own?

Or do you need some help? Would an hour’s coaching or some editorial assistance help you to identify what is holding you or your story back, and guide your story back to where you want it to be?

Remembering your satnav

Readers will forgive the odd missing comma or incorrect tense, but they won't forgive weaknesses in the chain of events that happen in a book, or in the underlying elements that drive the narrative action.

As Bernard Cornwell, said: ‘One immutable rule in a business without any rules — tell a story!’


So if your plot has meandered from your intended path, then get in touch, and let’s put it back on the story map.

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