When Plotting Goes Micro

Every book has a macro-plot (the overarching story) and a micro-plot (the small scenes that weave the main story and its characters).

During a Zoom session hosted by Authors Publish, on January 12th, 2022, featured guest and children’s book author John Claude Bemis addressed micro-plotting.

I am fond of many children’s books, from reading to my grandchildren, but I don’t write stories for children. They might be short, but writing them is harder than it appears.

Still, I wondered why an author of (mostly) children’s books would emphasize micro-plotting. It seemed like a matter of unnecessary complications. Still, I was curious about “how to keep a reader glued to a page.”

As an adult reader, I have often persisted through lengthy descriptions. Children, however, will not tolerate a narrative that takes their minds away from the character and will deliberately push the book aside.

That’s when micro-plotting comes into play. And whether it’s writing a children’s book, a novel, or a memoir, micro-plotting is what makes a page-turner that readers cannot put down.

Bemis explains that anticipation is the key. Each part should be like a mini-story when it’s done well. This is what J.K. Rowling mastered in Harry Potter. Even the smallest scene generates anticipation.

Each scene should do two things:

  • Advance the story.
  • Deepen the understanding of the character.

By the end, the story might or might not adhere to the reader’s expectations, but surprise should at least fill that need. The trick is in how to turn this into that without losing the reader’s interest.

Micro plotting is something to write by, no matter the genre.