July 10, 2016

The 10-20-10 Method of Plotting

The 10 20 10 method for plotting your novel.

I came across the 10-20-10 method of plotting about eighteen months ago, and have loved it. It’s not the only plotting technique, but I find it a great help in ensuring that my story has depth and interest throughout.

It’s a pretty simple technique. It asks for you to:

Start with 10 set-ups.

These then lead to 20 conflicts.

And finally conclude with 10 resolutions.

 

Let’s have a look at Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and see how it compares.

 

10 Set-Ups:

  1. The young prince refuses to give the beggar/enchantress shelter.
  2. The enchantress turns the prince into a beast.
  3. The enchantress puts a spell on the castle.
  4. The enchantress changes all his servants to things.
  5. The enchantress gives the prince a magic mirror.
  6. The enchantress gives the prince the rose and tells him that he must earn another’s love by the rose’s last petal falling on his 21st birthday, otherwise he’ll remain a beast forever.
  7. 10 years later: Belle is bored and wants a more exciting life.
  8. Belle is ridiculed by her town.
  9. Belle is the love interested of Gaston.
  10. Belle’s father is Maurice.

 

20 Conflicts:

  1. Belle rejects Gaston’s romantic advances.
  2. Maurice and his horse get lost in the forest.
  3. Maurice and his horse are chased by a pack of wolves.
  4. Maurice finds the castle, and the Beast/prince detains him there.
  5. Belle goes to the castle, and offers to take her father’s place. Her father objects.
  6. In town, Gaston is emo about Belle.
  7. In town, Maurice can’t convince anyone in town to go save Belle.
  8. Belle refuses to have dinner with Beast/prince.
  9. The forbidden West Wing is discovered by Belle.
  10. The Beast scares Belle and she runs into the forest.
  11. Belle is at risk from pack of wolves.
  12. The beast saves Belle from the wolves – but is injured.
  13. Beast begins to develop feelings for Belle as she nurses him.
  14. In town, Gaston and Maurice argue about Belle.
  15. Belle misses Maurice.
  16. Belle use the mirror to see Maurice, and she sees him dying in the woods. The Beast lets Belle go to save Maurice, giving her the mirror.
  17. Belle loves the Beast but is now apart from him.
  18. Gaston realises that Belle loves the Beast, so he recruits the townsmen to go to the castle and kill him.
  19. Belle and Maurice are detained by Gaston.
  20. Gaston and the Beast fight.

 

10 Resolutions:

  1. Belle and Maurice escape.
  2. The Beast wins the fight, and orders Gaston to leave.
  3. Gaston wounds the Beast anyway.
  4. Gaston falls to his death.
  5. Belle says she loves the Beast.
  6. The curse is broken.
  7. The Beast becomes human (and alive) again.
  8. The servants become human again.
  9. The castle restores to former glory.
  10. Belle and Ex-Beast dance in the ballroom.

 

Now, as this is a children’s story, each dot point is very concise here. You can imagine that, with a more complex story, each dot point might actually be a sentence or two.

I encourage you to have a go at this plotting method the next time you’re planning a novel. Alternatively, if you have a novel that you’re writing but it just doesn’t seem to be working, try to fit it into 10-20-10. If your numbers are wildly off, your focus may be in the wrong part of the novel.

Soon, a worksheet will be available for this method, along with other techniques I use for plotting. This page will be updated when I do, so stay tuned.

 

Credits:

Apologies to the creator of the 10-20-10 method, as you have been lost in the oblivion of the internet for me. If this is you, please contact me, and I will be sure to credit your work.

Major kudos to the Wikipedia page on Beauty and the Beast for their plot outline. Saved me watching the movie again!