Writing a Novel – Plot Structure: The Plot Embryo

Believe it or not, writing a novel isn’t as simple as sitting down and typing a manuscript. Without the right planning, you could run into stale characters, plot holes, and forgotten story points. One crucial, but very simple, planning tool is the “plot embryo,” but what is it?

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

What Is it?

Most of the time, writers only have their beginning and ending in mind, but what about everything in between? If you’re familiar with Dan Harmon, the brilliant mind behind Rick and Morty, he created the idea of the plot embryo to weave a simplistic web for the story structure.

Why Use It?

The plot embryo is very simple. It only uses eight points, and it’s circular visual help conceptualize the flow of work. Let’s take a look at Dan Harmon’s eight points in the plot embryo:

  1. Where is the character most comfortable? Otherwise known as the comfort zone.
  2. What need or want does the character have? You need to establish what the character seeks in the story.
  3. What unfamiliar territory or situation will the character enter? Think of how you would approach leaving your comfort zone to attain what you want.
  4. How would the character adapt to the situation? Once you’ve moved outside of your comfort zone. How would you overcome it?
  5. The character receives their want or need. They finally have what they wanted.
  6. Unfortunately (or fortunately, in some cases), they pay the price for it. What did they lose to get what they wanted?
  7. Return to the comfort zone. The character goes back to where they were most comfortable.
  8. The character has changed to some degree. While the character is back in the comfort zone, they have changed for the better (or worse).

Utilizing the plot embryo helps keep readers emotionally involved in the story while covering the character’s intentions. Can the plot embryo help you on your writing journey?

What method do you use to plot your novel?

I hope you liked this month’s blog post. The books in my urban fantasy series are available on Amazon. Please let me know your thoughts by liking, commenting, and/or subscribing. Also, you can join my mailing list by clicking here.

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