How not to plot – dissecting my first attempt at a novel

How not to plot - dissecting my first attempt at a novel

From 2013 to 2015 I wrote a science fiction / fantasy novel called Tempting in Shade. I sent it to Beta Readers who were very kind. Then I sat back and reread it. In doing so I came to several conclusions, the dominant one being that the novel was unpublishable. This post examines my decision from the perspective of four years later. It focuses upon how I mangled the plot.

So why was Tempting in Shade unpublishable?

I get the impression from my Beta Readers that writing style was good. One said that I wrote really great fight scenes. Another said she kept forgetting that she wasn


  1. As it turns out, I have a blog post on a very similar topic coming in about twelve hours inspired by the fact that I wrote a 1000-word outline for a 6000-word story that had an ending I didn’t see coming! The short form is that I recommend using a detailed outline for the plot’s macro elements, but leave room to “pants” the details. It allows for some spontaneity within the structure. Of course, sometimes you have to alter your outline or put aside elements that don’t tie up nicely within the plot. I suggest putting items aside rather than tossing them out. You never know when you can revisit ideas in a sequel or a similarly themed book with different characters!

    1. Thanks David. 🙂 The other day/week when you posted on Facebook about your outline it made me think that I should really have a go at something approaching a decent outline. Most of my outlines to date have barely been a hundred words. I’ll follow your advice and see how it turns out. I listened to a podcast where one author said his outlines were 10,000 words!!! Man!

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