Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Let's get to it with an explanation of action plots and emotional plots.

Some writers say to sell novels today, you really need to focus on the action plot. But others say it's better to feel something when you read.  I say you need both, and Cheryl Klein agrees.  She said (in the webinar) that action plot adds the entertainment while the emotional plot adds depth.

So, what is action plot and emotional plot? Well, I'll tell you... (Beware, examples come from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Hunger Games, and Divergent.  If you haven't read them, there might be spoilers.)

Action Plot: This is a change in circumstances for your character. 

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it's when Harry goes to Hogwarts. In The Hunger Games, it's when Katniss takes her sister's place at the Reaping. In Divergent, it's when Tris chooses Dauntless.

The Action Plot is when the story moves forward.  Having the characters doing things, not just being idle in the plot, enhances the action plot.

Emotional Plot: This is a change in emotion for your character.

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the emotional plot begins when Harry feels unworthy to be at Hogwarts and all the fame. In The Hunger Games, the emotional plot begins when Katniss must come to terms with the fact that she might never see Prim, Gale, or her mother again.  When she grabs her mother by the arm during their goodbyes and yells at her to take care of Prim. In Divergent, the emotional plot begins when Beatrice must make the decision to leave her family in Abnegation. It's from this point that Beatrice starts to transition as a character into Tris.

The Emotional Plot is when the protagonist develops internally. Meaning and theme enhance the emotional plot.

Can you identify the action plot and emotional plot within your WIP?  If not, this would be a great way to begin revision.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day 4: Character Development


  1. I love it. I love it. Plotting is a huge deal for me (now) and this is a totally different way to look at it. Or different than I have been looking at it lately. Thanks for the genuinely great post.

  2. Great post. Having both action and emotion are important. You should be able to easily identify both.