I have no idea what to write for this certain chapter in my book, and I don't know how to plot it out.

I have a general idea that the character somehow betrays another, resulting in him being kicked out of the house, but I don't have any way for him to betray his friend.

What steps do I need to take in order to have my story plotted out?

  • 1
    plotting out chapter x is no different than chapter 1 so I really dont think you want to know what you need to plot out as much as you are looking for ideas on how to do a betrayal... which is a what to write question and ultimately off topic. You need to look at the characters as Alex suggested. If you can't by this point in the story figure out why 1 would betray the other but simply that you want to write that it does, you need to develope the character more and take a good look at them and see why you can't make it happen. It should be fairly natural if the characters are developed.
    – ggiaquin16
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:44
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    Are you working from an outline? If not, writing one out may help. Aug 24, 2017 at 14:12
  • @NeilFein, I do not have an outline, does that really help? I have been free writing my story from the beginning, as I was too stubborn to think ahead in the story. I am just kind of winging it at this point. Which is why I was asking this question in the first place. Aug 24, 2017 at 16:58
  • Outlining is a way of working, I recommend trying it. Outlining your story means you know where you want it to end up. There are questions tagged outline here that may help you. Aug 24, 2017 at 20:22

3 Answers 3


One way to think of plotting is in terms of desire and accidents. The point of a story is (usually) to bring one or more characters to the point where they must face a defining moral choice. What drives them towards that point is desire. What boxes them into a situation where they have to make that choice (since they will otherwise try to avoid it) is accidents. You have reasonable freedom to invent any accidents you need to box your characters in, but you have to be true to their desire.

If you want them to act in a particular way at a particular time, therefore, you have to invent an accident or accidents that force them to choose between that action and the loss of their desire.

For one character to betray another, therefore, you need the following conditions:

  1. A must have a desire.

  2. B must know what A's desire is.

  3. B must also have a desire.

  4. An accident must put B in a position where they must either give up their desire or pursue their desire in a way that prevents A from attaining their desire.

In many cases, A does not know what B's desire is, and so does not know that their friend in tempted to betray them.

If your issue is that you do not know how B can betray A, then it may be that A has no desire, B has no desire, B does not know of A's desire, or you cannot contrive a plausible accident that would force B to choose between A's desire and their own.

Of course, B's desire may simply be to frustrate A's desire as revenge for a past wrong, in which case B does not need an accident to force him to betray A (or rather, the past wrong is the accident that forces him).


First of all, your question is about "what to write" rather than "how to write".

Now (before your question can be put on hold), take a good look at your characters. What conflict of interests could develop between them? If no obvious conflicts are seen, maybe there is a scenario (a love interest, a lottery win etc.) that can cause this conflict?

Next, see that this conflict would develop as a betrayal rather than an open argument. Betraying party should have some reasons to pursue his/her interests in secret from the other party.

Last, make this betrayal revealed, and either have it too heinous for the friend to forgive, or have an argument between friends develop in a way that ends up in a deeper division rather than truce.

  • 4
    If you thought the question was off topic, you should not have answered it. I don't think it is off topic. (It is asking how to figure out the plot, not what the plot should be.) But if you thought it was off topic, then you should have voted to close it and left it at that.
    – user16226
    Aug 24, 2017 at 3:03
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    In my opinion, while this question is definitely on the edge of asking what to write, it's also written in such a way that it encourages answers to the questions, "how do I fill in an outline?" or "how do I fill in gaps in my plotting touchpoints?" My test of whether a borderline question should remain open hinges on the kinds of answers it gets: Are they useful to a general audience or only to this specific manuscript? I think this question is generally useful. Aug 24, 2017 at 14:09
  • Oh, how to write.... I guess I goofed up bad there, huh? Yea, the plotting of a story is hard in an of itself, so it's especially hard for a writer who didn't make one in the first place and is already halfway done with a draft :) Aug 24, 2017 at 21:54

Although I upvote Mark and Alexander, I can suggest an alternative writing trick: Find a way to exchange cause and effect:

You are thinking "betrayal" causes "Kicked Out." Instead think of how "Kicked Out" can be a "betrayal". This is often a puzzler we can't solve, but in this case it is easy:

Your character, out of love for his friend, kicks himself out of the house; and then his refusal to explain why to his friend can become the betrayal.

I'll assume both friends are male; Alex (your character) and Bob (the friend). Alex has no reason to betray Bob, and would never do so intentionally. But unknown to friend Bob, Alex has gotten himself into some trouble (sexual, monetary, criminal) and something happens at the house: If Alex stays in the house with Bob, he now fears Bob is in danger of physical harm, or financial harm, or emotional harm. This could be as simple as Alex getting drunk and having a fling with Bob's ex-wife. Or Alex was embezzling money from his firm and is now concerned he may be caught and Bob would be implicated, if he doesn't clear out. Or perhaps Alex had an indiscreet homosexual affair, and though he knows Bob is not homosexual, Alex fears if Bob is branded as one it will harm his public career (as an actor, politician, whatever).

Obviously I don't know your story or characters, so all of the above may be way off the mark for them. But what you need to invent are non-argument reasons why Alex cannot stay in the house, or Alex thinks it is in Bob's best interest that he (Alex) leaves the house to protect Bob.

That reason should also be something Alex wants to keep a secret because it is embarrassing or illegal.

So the setup is: Alex has decided to kick himself out of the house, out of brotherly love for Bob.

[minor edit here: got my characters confused!]

Now the betrayal: He can't tell Bob why he is doing it. So he tries to make something up instead, but his best friend sees through the lie. It doesn't make sense! Bob says so, Alex changes his story and keeps packing. Another lie! Bob escalates, Alex lies again and Bob becomes angry, Alex doesn't know what to do (he can't tell the truth) so he responds with anger and storms out.

The fight doesn't cause the exit: The exit causes the fight.

  • That third line probably solved my problem. Also, that is an amazing plot idea, where did you find it? Aug 24, 2017 at 21:52
  • @AspenRand I made that up, just for you. I am glad you are entertained!
    – Amadeus
    Aug 24, 2017 at 21:56
  • Of course!! It's brilliant!! Can I credit you for this idea??? Aug 24, 2017 at 21:58
  • @AspenRand If you like, give it to Amadeus (a name Mozart used as an inside joke with his cousin). but what I write here is intended to be used to help others. It's free, no credit required.
    – Amadeus
    Aug 24, 2017 at 22:11

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