Saturday, April 1, 2017

How to Plot your Novel using the ABDCE Formula

A is for the ABDCE formula:

You have this story playing non-stop in your mind’s eye, begging to be put on paper.

 There are multiple scenes that come to you. You have only a vague idea of what happens to your characters. 

Out of the many questions that troubles most writers, the one that requires an answer first is where to begin?

 The timeline of your novel might be a few decades or years or days. Where should you begin the story?

Next will be what all details should be included?

How should the story end?

Should you plot the novel or write it as it comes to you?

In my experience, when I plot I am able to write faster. It is like laying down a strong foundation before constructing a building.

The easiest way to plot is the ABDCE formula. In the ABDCE structure for plotting a story/novel developed by Alice Adams, the story begins with an Action or an inciting incident.

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The Formula:
  • Action: This is the inciting incident which sets off the story in motion.
  • Background: What happened to the characters in the past that made them what they are today.
  • Development: The course of the story where the characters chase their goals.
  • Climax: This is the point where the goals are achieved with dramatic consequences.
  • Ending: All the loose threads in the plot are tied up.


Let me try and explain this with an example:

‘Harry Potter and philosopher’s stone’ by JK Rowling tells the tale of Harry Potter, an orphan who is left at the doorstep of his only living relatives, the Dursleys at Private Drive. He is ill-treated by his cruel uncle, aunt, and cousin on every occasion.

Action: Harry starts receiving mysterious letters that are snatched away from him by his uncle just before his 11th birthday. He tries in every way to read the letter but never succeeds.  

Background: Rubeus Hagrid who hand delivers the letter from the Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry tells him his story. He learns that he is a wizard who is quite famous in the wizarding world. Harry’s parents were Aurors who had died facing the dark wizard Lord Voldemort who had mysteriously vanished when he had tried to kill Harry. 

Development: Harry reaches Hogwarts and is sorted into Gryffindor House. The various characters are introduced. Ron and Hermione become his best friends. The rest of his adventures at Hogwarts in his first year, his dilemmas and his achievements constitute the chapters which fall under the category of development. This is where the characters undergo change. More adventures follow. Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect that professor Snape is trying to steal the Philosopher’s Stone which they believe is being guarded by the four-headed monster dog in one of the forbidden corridors in the school.

Climax: Solving the various puzzles and overcoming the hurdles that the team of teachers had created to guard the Philosophers stone, Harry finds that it is professor Quirrel, someone he had not suspected at all, who is trying to steal the stone. Lord Voldemort who had lost his body is possessing Quirrel. Harry faces Voldemort’s wrath when he refuses to help them find the stone.

Ending: Harry wakes up in the hospital wing of the school and learns from Dumbledore that Voldemort has vanished again after killing Quirrel. Griffindor lifts the house Cup after a last-minute awarding of house points to Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville for their role in protecting the Philosopher's stone. Harry returns to Private Drive determined not to tell the Dursleys that he cannot use magic outside of Hogwarts.

Those of you who have read this book will notice how many chapters fall under these categories. The majority of the story happens in the Development category. The rest of the structure is mostly one or two chapters each.  

It is now your turn to decide upon the ‘Action’ that is going to capture the attention of your reader the most. Begin there.




During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.
The Letter of the day is A




Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Click here to read B

29 comments:

  1. Wow! I mean you are going to mentor so many aspiring authors, I tell you. Brilliant start to A to Z, Preethi. <3
    Thailand Travel Stories at Kohl Eyed Me
    26 Indian Dishes at Something's Cooking

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    1. Just some quick tips that would come handy to aspiring writers. :) Thank you for reading, Shalini.

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  2. You offer a well-planned outline for structuring a novel. For myself, I've found that first getting the story out of my head and onto the page from beginning to end works best. At that point, I would begin following your excellent outline for structuring the novel.

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    1. So you are a pantser. I have tried both ways and for me, plotting works better.
      Thank you for reading Gail M Baugniet.

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  3. Using examples is innovative and interesting, can inspire many new writers. I find your theme really interesting. Looking forward to reading your writing tips/ideas/pattern.

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    1. Hoping to do that Tarang. We need more stories and writers. :) Thank you for reading :)

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  4. No experience in novel writing but yes whenever I plan to write one, I will follow this practical advice.

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    1. Glad you found it practical. Will look forward to seeing you here. :)

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  5. Excited to read this. I write computer books but my kids write to publish Fiction. They will enjoy this!! Thanks for sharing!
    computare.citus@gmail.com
    computarecitus.blogspot.ca

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    1. Wow! That is exciting to know. All the best to your kids. :) Thanks for reading Lianne Kruger.





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  6. Nice start to the A to Z Challenge! Now I'm wondering what you'll do for F.

    Deb from PenInHerHand.com

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    1. I love your name Deb Atwood. For the F post, you will have to wait and see. :)
      Thank you for reading :)

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  7. Great article. I have learned myself that plotting leads to a much stronger structure and that often means a stronger story overall.
    I've never use this structure (I normally use the 7-part-structure) but it sounds a good one. I'll probably try it.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

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    1. Yes, the seven part structure is much more detailed and helpful. But this easy formula works better in case of beginners I feel. The best part is we can use it for short stories as well.

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  8. Great post and interesting theme.

    -- Usha, photo blogger

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  9. That's a great post. Thank you for sharing these insights Preethi. will certainly keep in mind when I decide to write my book. Loved your theme. Happy weekend :)

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    1. I am sure that you would pen one soon. All the best for that Dipanwita. Thank you for reading.

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    1. Thank you. I love Agra. Off to read your post.

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  11. Glad to meet you, Preethi! Great start

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    1. Thank you SudhaNair. Glad to meet you too.

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  12. This is a great reminder. I don't tend to plot much but hopefully I manage to incorporate all these.

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    1. Even without plotting most of us incorporate all these elements into our stories. But plotting makes it easier I feel :)
      Thank you for reading, Nick Wilford.

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  13. Brilliant theme and Brilliant post. I have by-hearted the formula dear :)

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    1. Glad to hear that Roma. Thank you for reading.

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  14. I like the ABCDE formula.Great start Preethi to A to Z challenge

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  15. And here, I begin with E! :D Then C, then D, then B and A, I can include anywhere in the process :p

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