A Simple Tool to Design Your Plot for Novelists

Plan Your Novel with the Problem-Solution tool

Plan Your Novel with the Problem-Solution tool

Today is the seventh in an 8-post series on preparing your novel for Nanowrimo. In today’s post, we focus on a simple tool to design your plot called “Problem-Solution.” 

If you missed it, the first step in your novel preparation is your elevator pitch and the second step is crafting your story synopsis. The third post on preparing your characters is here. The fourth post is here on world building. The fifth post on plot and story building tips is here. The sixth post is a unique way to develop conflict in your story for pantsers here. (All the posts are here.)

Keep in mind: Take note of your genre and review the information you drafted about your characters and your world.

Time to budget: I recommend you spend at least of 20 minutes to do this exercise for your story.

Design Your Plot with the Problem-Solution tool

I wanted to write a novel, but I didn’t know where to begin. So I found the book, The Weekend Novelist, and used it as a guide to write every weekend to get going. One of the tools I really liked was the “problem-solution” tool, helping me design my story plot in a quick way. Plot was so confusing to me. This tool helped me get a handle on it.

Here’s how it works:

What’s the starting problem of your story?

What’s the solution to this immediate problem?

What problem is caused by this solution?

Create a new solution,

which creates a new problem.

This leads to a new solution,

new problem…

etc. until you get to your story resolution.

Design your plot with the problem-solution tool and find your way into your story. Tell us how it went in the comments below.


Please share me on social media: Instagram, Pinterest, etc.!

Plan Your Novel 30-Day Writing Challenge, starts October 1st

If you’d like hands-on support to plan your novel for Nanowrimo with your peers and with experienced instructors — Beth and Ezra Barany, then join us for our next course starting October 1st: 30-Day Writing Challenge to Plan Your Novel.

All the details for the course here.

Follow our tips on Twitter with the hashtag #30dayWC.





Beth and Ezra Barany

Happily married for over 14 years, Beth and Ezra Barany help authors reach their dreams.

Beth Barany, an award-winning novelist and certified Creativity Coach for Writers, runs Barany Consulting, a coaching and consulting firm dedicated to helping novelists write, publish, and market their books. She’s the author of the award-winning young adult fantasy, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, and the romance collection,Touchstone Series.

Ezra Barany, an award-winning novelist and the bestselling author of The Torah Codes and its sequel 36 Righteous, is also a teacher and mentor.

Together they help authors get their books out into the world.

Tip #8: 3 Fun Videos on Preparing for NaNoWriMo

List of all 8 tips here.

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2 Responses

  1. This gave me a very simple yet “aha” tool I put to immediate use on my MG WIP this morning — adding just this one element (problem/solution) to each scene in my outline helped my left brain see exactly how my creative right brain has developed the story. It helped me see what I’m lacking in a few muddling scenes that I can now either cut or develop further. Keeping problem/solution in mind will help me increase the tension logically and emotionally as I go. Great tip – nothing really new, per se, but delivered in a concise way so it’s new enough. Perfect!

  2. Beth Barany says:

    Courtenay, I am so glad to hear it! So glad that you were able to put to immediate use on your MG WIP this morning. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how the creative mind knows first and then the left brain needs reassurance.

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