Dear Novel Writer
Welcome. This is a special page just for you and me. So let’s talk shop. And by “shop,” I mean “plot.”
But before we dive into the “p” word, let me say this: I’m so excited for you! And for me! You see, I’m actually a bit of a fan girl when it comes to novel writers. I think what you do is magic! You design entire worlds, populate them with living, breathing characters—then pull me along on their gripping adventures. And if that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.
Let’s talk plot
Okay. Plot. This is a thing I’m good at. Maybe it’s an instinct. If it is, I bet you have it, too! But for sure my plot instincts improved exponentially when I started working with the Plot Clock. Now, the Plot Clock is my number one most reliable tool to help novel writers create powerful, compelling plots.
And it’s efficient, too. When I work with novelists, we find traction fast! Which is good news for us both—because it means you can write more great novels for me to read!
Plotting your novel
Considering the benefits of the Plot Clock, it won’t surprise you that I co-wrote the book on it: PLOTTING YOUR NOVEL WITH THE PLOT CLOCK. (Yes, it’s a pretty pedestrian title. But that’s fine—as long as it helps you write sensational novels, right?)
And while I truly consider the Plot Clock the answer to all plotting woes, don’t take my word for it! Take Ryan Van Cleave’s word! Ryan—a well-published author, Head of Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design, my colleague (and even occasional client!)—is such a believer, he wrote the foreword to the book.
From the foreword
One of the biggest challenges aspiring fiction writers face is effectively handling plot. It’s so important, our creative writing program has an entire class devoted to it: Story Fundamentals: Plot. When I teach that class, I offer students a different way of thinking about [plot] each week. Freytag’s pyramid. Three-act structure. James Scott Bell’s LOCK. Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method.
When I introduced the Plot Clock, it unlocked the potential for story in ways the other [methods] did not. The majority of students who take Story Fundamentals: Plot report the Plot Clock as among their most valuable takeaways from the class.
The Plot Clock is simple, clear, and flexible enough to be useful in any story enterprise, from picture book to adult novel, and from genre writing to the most serious of literature. PLOTTING YOUR NOVEL WITH THE PLOT CLOCK is a must-read for any aspiring writer, period. —Ryan G. Van Cleave, Head of Creative Writing at Ringling College of Art and Design
Pantser, not plotter?
Pantsers—named for “flying by the seat of one’s pants”—write first, then figure out how to organize what they’ve got. Plotters, on the other hand, map out their novels first, then write.
So, if you’re a pantser, not a plotter? Can I still help you write your novel? Yes! I trust the Plot Clock to address a lot of plotting issues. But, equally, I admire the courage and tenacity it takes pantsers to wander through the dark, mysterious woods of their creativity and hack out a path that will eventually lead them to their story.
That’s an exciting journey, and one I love being a part of! Would you appreciate someone awaiting your discoveries each week? If so, send me pages—by owl or email—and we’ll schedule a campfire meeting to discuss them. (See Rates for how we work.)
Or, once you’ve completed a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants draft, you might be ready to step back and assess. At that point, we’ll use the Plot Clock to see if your story is doing its job. Is your plot moving your main character steadily forward? Does it force her to make the change she desperately needs to make? If not, we’ll apply some plotting principles that will ensure you take your character (and your reader) on one hell of a ride!
Amazon reviews for THE PLOT CLOCK
A must-have craft book. If you are looking for a way to organize the chaos of creativity and cool ideas into a compelling and workable story, look no further than the template provided here.
The Plot Clock is essential as a plotting device. When I feel like my plot is sagging, I turn to the Plot Clock to see what’s wrong.
Helps me develop a fuller, more impactful novel and characters. I write by the Plot Clock.
Great tool for writers. It gives you a roadmap of what elements need to be put in at what points. It paints such a clear picture, which helps take a lot of the guesswork away. I highly recommend this to everyone.
A must have!! To write your story you need just three things: Today. The idea. This book. It’s that simple. Get that book done with the incredible help in the pages of this amazing book.
Joyce and Jamie have helped numerous people to publication, and the Plot Clock is one of their most effective tools. If you’re having trouble with the sagging middle of your book, turn to the Plot Clock. It just might be the magic antidote to your writing woes. —Stacie Ramey, author of THE HOMECOMING, THE SISTER PACT, and THE SECRETS WE BURY
For a “pantser” like me, learning to use the Plot Clock was a lifesaver. If you want to finally nail story structure, there’s no better method than the Plot Clock—it gives you a simple visual map to represent the arc of your story and keep you on track. The Plot Clock has hauled me out of my boggling beginnings, muddled middles, and decidedly unclimactic climaxes time and again. Learn it and use it! —Gail Shepherd, author of THE TRUE HISTORY OF LYNDIE B. HAWKINS
PLOTTING YOUR NOVEL WITH THE PLOT CLOCK is a short book (seventy pages) that packs a wallop! It addresses plotting a story in a manner that moves that story forward and keeps readers hanging in there.
The interesting thing about the Plot Clock is that, by definition, it is circular, rather than linear. Points around the clock include: Starting Point, Ordinary World, Inciting Event, Binding Point, Tests & Challenges Failed, Low Point, The Change, Tests & Challenges Won, Turning Point, Climax, and Denouement.
Chapters include a discussion of the process of the Plot Clock points, with wisdom from each of the co-authors. There are chapters on Stories & Plot, The Hands of Time, The Depths of Story Time, Case Study, Q&A. There are also templates, which I particularly liked. These included a Basic Plot Clock, a Complex Clock Plot, Tragedy on the Plot Clock, and a blank Plot Clock.
Jamie’s guidance provides fuel to keep my writing moving forward. Whether I’m just beginning a new project, trying to dig my way out of a messy middle, or adding the finishing touches, her input has been invaluable. She has a unique talent—almost a sixth sense, really—that enables her to immediately understand the heart of a piece and respond with constructive, motivational critique. —Julie Compton, author of TELL NO LIES and RESCUING OLIVIA (Macmillan), and the TNL sequel, KEEP NO SECRETS (Fresh Fork)
How do people write without the Plot Clock? Thanks to this easy-to-follow device, I have confidence that my plots are exciting and well-paced. As an added bonus, the Plot Clock guarantees that my characters hit all the emotional marks that make for a moving story. —Melody Maysonet, author Eric Hoffer Award-winning novel A WORK OF ART (Merit Press)
Jamie! We nailed it! Amazing brains clicking together, and I now have a solid first act, broken down scene by scene. So many thanks for your dedication and willingness to stick it out, Jamie! —Anne Hawkinson, co-author, SCOTLAND’S KNIGHT, multiple Royal Palm Literary Award winner
Just compared this draft of my novel to the first version. With your help, I honed my characters’ motivations and successfully overhauled my plot. You provided tons of encouragement, copious brainstorming, and kind words every step of the way. THANK YOU! —Cindy Knoebel
[She’s] an insightful coach. Whether you’re an experienced writer or just starting out, I can’t recommend Jamie Morris highly enough. —Patrick Matthews, DRAGON RUN (Scholastic); columnist, DADDY TALES; publisher, GAMES FOR EDUCATORS