I just started to plot out my scenes like this in bullet points

  • Tess runs away
  • Tess fights the bad guy
  • Tess gets injured

and so it goes on. So far I got 30. I know that I need a lot more. I am aiming for 300 pages. Are these called plot points?

2 Answers 2


A plot point is a turning point. It is something that turns the the story in a new direction. Taken together, a set of plot points describes a complete story arc. What you are describing are incidents. Incidents get you from one turning point to another (and every incident should contribute to getting you to the next turning point).

It is not about how many plot points you need, it is about whether your plot points work together to form a complete and satisfying story arc. It is about whether they bring your hero to the moment of moral crisis where they have to ask themselves hard questions about who they are and what they are going to do.

Some stories get there fast. Some stories get there slow. As long as the reader feels that they are moving towards that point, though, fast or slow does not matter. Every part of the story arc is satisfying as long as it feels like we are on the story arc and it is moving forward.

  • Thank you. So with the amount of inciting incidents that I have, do I group them together ? example from the beginning of a a plot point to the end of a plot point.
    – Zp73
    May 26, 2017 at 13:35
  • @Zp73 I think you may be going about this backwards. If you want to plan something, you start with the big picture and fill in the details to support the big picture. Inventing details and then bundling them up into larger units does not get you to a coherent big picture. For a story, the big picture is the story arc. Figure out what you story arc is (there are lots of books on story arc). Then figure out what turning points you need to animate the arc, Then figure out what incidents you need to drive your character to the turning points.
    – user16226
    May 26, 2017 at 14:22

No. They are not really plot points. They are scene or chapter summaries.

From tone of your question I'm guessing you're new to this. Contrary to everything you've been told you are unlikely to write a 300 page novel of any worth using the the technique you describe. It'll work for a 1950's 80 minute movie script or a comic book strip. But as an event-driven modern novel - they don't work that way. This is what you may be taught but if you read modern novels you'll see they bear no resemblance.

Unless your writing is exquisite and you use a lot introspection you cannot follow a single character for 300 pages.

At some point you may need to use the "meanwhile back at the ranch" scenario. This enables you to SHOW events which your MC is unaware of, villains plotting against the MC, the love interest being kidnapped etc.

I say all of this because I can remember writing the few chapters of my first novel. And I am grateful to my sister for stopping me continuing the way I was going. I was about to waste 3-6 months of my life that I couldn't ever get back.

  • I do not think this is what @Zp73 was asking for. From THE wording of his question I'm guessing THAT he is seeking merely a terminological clarification. Taking the liberty of flash-writing his novel for him, them reading out loud the resulting crap and making conclusions is not helpful. It is, indeed, crap, just like the presumed narrative you composed for him to illustrate your point. Small wonder it is not exquisite enough.
    – Lew
    May 27, 2017 at 4:34
  • @Lew - a little harsh I think. Flash writing his novel? As you say, you were GUESSING the OP was seeking terminological clarification. I was GUESSING the OP was asking a different question, the question may have been a symptom of an issue I recognise through experience..
    – Surtsey
    May 27, 2017 at 5:22
  • 3
    Despite numerous shortcomings in the ways this site handles its purpose (to provide helpful answers to the questions which might benefit more than one writer--aspiring and accomplished alike), its policy stays rather solid on the issue. In your answer you managed to dismiss (by presumption only) the level of the @Zp73 experience, doubt his ability to perform the task he is striving to perform, and off-handedly labeled his writing as not being exquisite enough while having read precisely not a single word of it. I rarely downvote answers, but on this is just not helpful to anyone.
    – Lew
    May 27, 2017 at 6:47

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