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The Plot Dot: An eight-step visual guide to plotting unforgettable fiction and writing a book readers love.

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Writing a book doesn’t have to be so hard. A plotting guide for fiction authors who hate outlining. If you’ve read dozens of books on writing but still struggle with finishing or polishing your story, get stuck in the soggy middle, lose motivation to fix your book after the first draft is done, or can’t get readers to stick with your story, this book is for you. After Writing a book doesn’t have to be so hard. A plotting guide for fiction authors who hate outlining. If you’ve read dozens of books on writing but still struggle with finishing or polishing your story, get stuck in the soggy middle, lose motivation to fix your book after the first draft is done, or can’t get readers to stick with your story, this book is for you. After early criticism made me give up writing for nearly a decade, I spent years studying the craft of fiction and boiled everything into a simple, eight-step framework authors can use to improve their writing. Then I added a unique visual framework for creating powerful scenes that readers will love. This book will help you: ✓ Organize your story so you can finish a great book, faster ✓ Unlock hidden potential in your scenes that you didn’t know was there ✓ Hook readers faster so they don’t quit too early Whether you’re a panster or a plotter, the guided exercises in this book will help you gain greater visual clarity, plot and outline your novel, edit and revise your first draft, and renew your enthusiasm for writing fiction. The Plot Dot makes an excellent workbook for writing retreats, is simple enough for children to use (it’s never too early to write your first novel), and introduces a new and useful way to organize your book, improve your writing, and create unforgettable scenes that will make a deep and lasting impact.


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Writing a book doesn’t have to be so hard. A plotting guide for fiction authors who hate outlining. If you’ve read dozens of books on writing but still struggle with finishing or polishing your story, get stuck in the soggy middle, lose motivation to fix your book after the first draft is done, or can’t get readers to stick with your story, this book is for you. After Writing a book doesn’t have to be so hard. A plotting guide for fiction authors who hate outlining. If you’ve read dozens of books on writing but still struggle with finishing or polishing your story, get stuck in the soggy middle, lose motivation to fix your book after the first draft is done, or can’t get readers to stick with your story, this book is for you. After early criticism made me give up writing for nearly a decade, I spent years studying the craft of fiction and boiled everything into a simple, eight-step framework authors can use to improve their writing. Then I added a unique visual framework for creating powerful scenes that readers will love. This book will help you: ✓ Organize your story so you can finish a great book, faster ✓ Unlock hidden potential in your scenes that you didn’t know was there ✓ Hook readers faster so they don’t quit too early Whether you’re a panster or a plotter, the guided exercises in this book will help you gain greater visual clarity, plot and outline your novel, edit and revise your first draft, and renew your enthusiasm for writing fiction. The Plot Dot makes an excellent workbook for writing retreats, is simple enough for children to use (it’s never too early to write your first novel), and introduces a new and useful way to organize your book, improve your writing, and create unforgettable scenes that will make a deep and lasting impact.

30 review for The Plot Dot: An eight-step visual guide to plotting unforgettable fiction and writing a book readers love.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Faith M ✨

    I’ve read one other book by Derek Murphy, under the name D.S. Murphy, and it was a fiction book. I thought it was cliche and kind of awful, but in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. So I was intrigued to read a book where this kind-of bad author writes a self-help plotting guide for other authors. Unfortunately, it was bad. Murphy is a proponent of the idea that the more cookie-cutter and predictable a plot is, the more generic a main character and conflict, the more likely a book is to sell (and se I’ve read one other book by Derek Murphy, under the name D.S. Murphy, and it was a fiction book. I thought it was cliche and kind of awful, but in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. So I was intrigued to read a book where this kind-of bad author writes a self-help plotting guide for other authors. Unfortunately, it was bad. Murphy is a proponent of the idea that the more cookie-cutter and predictable a plot is, the more generic a main character and conflict, the more likely a book is to sell (and sellability is the main goal in writing and publishing). Maybe he’s right, I don’t know, but it’s a very cynical way to view literature in my opinion. He takes this idea of plotting and tries, somehow, to pass it off as something unique, something that he himself discovered on his many journeys writing generic YA in castles around the world. The titular “Plot Dot” eight-step plotting structure that Murphy claims to have come up with is, in my opinion, an amalgamation of two different plot structures already in common use (even going so far as naming the different sections of the structure exactly as they’re named in the existing systems). Namely, the hero’s journey and the 7-point story structure. He literally just took the 7-point structure and added a hero’s journey “ordinary world” beginning. It doesn’t deviate in any way from traditional structures, and what it does expand on in the book is so bare-minimum that he literally suggests you watch his Youtube videos to understand them better. His points aren’t incorrect, he just behaves as if he’s the first to say them when he undoubtedly isn’t. His actual advice here has nothing to do with what events unfold and when, but rather that the individual scenes need a particular colorful talisman to focus the sequence; the “dot” of color, if you will. That’s fine advice, but it gets vague and repetitive pretty quick, especially as it somehow implies that every single scene in the book requires a macguffin just to be entertaining or important to the story. Overall, this failed to impress upon me any information a quick Google search of “plot structure” didn’t already give me. The haughtiness of Murphy’s claims as this goes on, the lack of substance, and the complete unoriginality made this a boring, uneducational read that probably wouldn’t benefit even a beginner in the world of writing fiction. If you want real, constructive advice on how to effectively plot, watch Ellen Brock’s series on plotting on Youtube. It’s what helped me the most with my own outline and I found it extremely thorough and informative.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Una Tiers

    Derek has enthusiasm and knowledge but this book isn't up to his usual par. He makes his own plot structure and then explains each part. He has a book with an accompanying set of videos. They could be numbered consecutively, but they are not. That caused me to keep going back thinking I had missed a point. Probably best for the hero story. Derek has enthusiasm and knowledge but this book isn't up to his usual par. He makes his own plot structure and then explains each part. He has a book with an accompanying set of videos. They could be numbered consecutively, but they are not. That caused me to keep going back thinking I had missed a point. Probably best for the hero story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Rand

    It was pretty basic, but I could possibly see myself giving it to a young teen to get them started.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Julie Kusma

    This 5-Star book just made the top of my recommended list. For any writer who wants to create sound, believable plotlines, this is your book. Murphy gives the tools to layout your scenes and organize your plot. He shows you how to “plant a red flag” in every scene, which he calls “Plot Dots.” Fantastic book. Invaluable information. THE PLOT DOT just made it to the top of my writing reference book list.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jo Cameron-Symes

    A brief but good guide for aspiring novelists of commercial fiction. I was relieved to find that after writing the bulk of my novel, I had already (inadvertently) followed the advice as regards plotting in this book. Saying that, this guide did give me more ideas about how to deepen the description in some of my scenes, to ensure that they are highly visual and therefore, more memorable for the reader.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Essi

    Very basic Hero's Quest kind of outlining for a story if in need of ideas. Nothing special though, there's no twist in the end. Very basic Hero's Quest kind of outlining for a story if in need of ideas. Nothing special though, there's no twist in the end.

  7. 4 out of 5

    N.A.K. Baldron

    If you've never read a book on story structure you'll learn something here, but you'll need to find another book to fill in the gaps. As the author notes in the final pages. You're better off saving yourself the time, and start with The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. Between those two books, you'll learn a Masters level understanding of story structure. I list out all the best resources I've found for writers on my site, under Writer Resources. Books, Software, e If you've never read a book on story structure you'll learn something here, but you'll need to find another book to fill in the gaps. As the author notes in the final pages. You're better off saving yourself the time, and start with The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne. Between those two books, you'll learn a Masters level understanding of story structure. I list out all the best resources I've found for writers on my site, under Writer Resources. Books, Software, even a free writing course from NYT Bestseller Brandon Sanderson. https://www.nakbaldron.com/writer-res...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Μιχάλης

    Interesting read An interesting short guide on how to plot a novel. It is pretty basic and solid and will help a newbie writer. There are some great advice in here (the splash of color is worth it imho), as well as an easy structure to follow. I think few of the advice (for instance the way kill your darlings is used) can prove to be bad. Not terribly in depth but can be useful for rookie writers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kim Steadman

    This is a basic hero outline for a fiction book. The interesting part for me was the idea of putting more visualizing into my planning practice. Not just writing the words to plot and plan the book, but imagery and pictures. It did get me over some hurdles in a children's chapter book I'm drafting. I recommend it for newer writers such as myself. Those of you that already have multiple books under your belt probably won't find it as helpful. This is a basic hero outline for a fiction book. The interesting part for me was the idea of putting more visualizing into my planning practice. Not just writing the words to plot and plan the book, but imagery and pictures. It did get me over some hurdles in a children's chapter book I'm drafting. I recommend it for newer writers such as myself. Those of you that already have multiple books under your belt probably won't find it as helpful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lennie Grace

    Short but informative I liked this. I picked it up because I'm working on outlining a new novel for camp nanowrimo. This little book was very helpful. I think it's a good took for new writers just starting learning the ropes of outlines and plotting. Short but informative I liked this. I picked it up because I'm working on outlining a new novel for camp nanowrimo. This little book was very helpful. I think it's a good took for new writers just starting learning the ropes of outlines and plotting.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dinah Pike

    While Plotting, the Ideas Came Fast I read this quick resource yesterday while plotting. Ideas came fast. I know I will refer to this again when starting another new story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    Great Free Guide to Writing Genre fiction I read another book by a fantastic author and agile coach named Greg Smith titled “The Agile Writer”, and I think both of these author’s methods overlap a lot. The only problem with Smith’s outline (which also altered the Hero’s Journey into 8 major stages), did not have a broken down chapter by chapter outline or the brainstorming templates that Derek Murphy from CreativeIndie offers in his book. I did all the steps of Smith’s method, I just need to expa Great Free Guide to Writing Genre fiction I read another book by a fantastic author and agile coach named Greg Smith titled “The Agile Writer”, and I think both of these author’s methods overlap a lot. The only problem with Smith’s outline (which also altered the Hero’s Journey into 8 major stages), did not have a broken down chapter by chapter outline or the brainstorming templates that Derek Murphy from CreativeIndie offers in his book. I did all the steps of Smith’s method, I just need to expand on it with Murphy’s. I think this will help me tremendously in finishing the setup of my novel, and best of all the outline templates and whatnot are linked for free. So thank you! Much valuable advice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    G

    I’ve read plenty of books on writing craft-most of them quite helpful, some of 5hem incomprehensible, and a few that break things down into bits of help that can actually get you from start to finish writing a book. Plot Dot is somewhere in the middle of these. It’s short & easy to read & follow. I’m uncertain it will make writing any simpler. I do like the small bits of information as well as his handy suggestions. Maybe it’s his writing that made his structuring process sound more accessible o I’ve read plenty of books on writing craft-most of them quite helpful, some of 5hem incomprehensible, and a few that break things down into bits of help that can actually get you from start to finish writing a book. Plot Dot is somewhere in the middle of these. It’s short & easy to read & follow. I’m uncertain it will make writing any simpler. I do like the small bits of information as well as his handy suggestions. Maybe it’s his writing that made his structuring process sound more accessible or maybe it’s because I’ve read this same information so ma y times it’s imbedded in my brain. At any rate, having finished it, I feel I may be able to get through my next attempt more easily. But I’ve felt that way before.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan H. LATER

    The Plot Dot idea is in its most basic form the structure of Beats and Acts that we all know well, that is if you've been interested in writing and have read a few books about it. This is good for a beginner. Someone who hasn't had much experience on Plot Structure or the 3-ACT system. However, other than that, the author here is essentially taking credit for something that already exists. He rephrases it as the Plot Dot. Recommended for new writers. I like that it's short. So you get the bulk o The Plot Dot idea is in its most basic form the structure of Beats and Acts that we all know well, that is if you've been interested in writing and have read a few books about it. This is good for a beginner. Someone who hasn't had much experience on Plot Structure or the 3-ACT system. However, other than that, the author here is essentially taking credit for something that already exists. He rephrases it as the Plot Dot. Recommended for new writers. I like that it's short. So you get the bulk of structuring quickly to begin writing. Good luck!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dirk Hooper

    Succinct and Wonderful This is the most concise book on plotting that I've read so far, but it's packed with simple good ideas. I particularly like how the author talks about using visual cues on plotting and writing (I'm an artist, but this would be good advice for everyone). I think this is the book to get started with on how to out. This might be enough to get you through your book. If you want to get in the weeds there are plenty out other good options out there. Can't wait to read his new bo Succinct and Wonderful This is the most concise book on plotting that I've read so far, but it's packed with simple good ideas. I particularly like how the author talks about using visual cues on plotting and writing (I'm an artist, but this would be good advice for everyone). I think this is the book to get started with on how to out. This might be enough to get you through your book. If you want to get in the weeds there are plenty out other good options out there. Can't wait to read his new book on craft!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Wilson

    I'll give him a couple points for the succinct breakdown of standard plot structure. Seriously that's worth a couple points. If you're a fast reader sure, blast through it. But on the whole it was a lot of copy-paste of the same few "Draw the protagonist, what's his splash of color" over and over and over again. Even if you're an intensely visual thinker coming from a design background wastes quite a lot of the reader's time, presumably to get his wordcount up enough so he could call it a book. I'll give him a couple points for the succinct breakdown of standard plot structure. Seriously that's worth a couple points. If you're a fast reader sure, blast through it. But on the whole it was a lot of copy-paste of the same few "Draw the protagonist, what's his splash of color" over and over and over again. Even if you're an intensely visual thinker coming from a design background wastes quite a lot of the reader's time, presumably to get his wordcount up enough so he could call it a book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I'll say upfront that I'm struggling with rating this book. It's too short and too basic (a frequent complaint on my part) but because it's short and basic, I didn't get bogged down. Perhaps more importantly, there are links in it that allow the reader to go to a website that has more information and even videos (though I haven't watched any yet.) So it's better than it seems to be. I recommend it. I'll say upfront that I'm struggling with rating this book. It's too short and too basic (a frequent complaint on my part) but because it's short and basic, I didn't get bogged down. Perhaps more importantly, there are links in it that allow the reader to go to a website that has more information and even videos (though I haven't watched any yet.) So it's better than it seems to be. I recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kleri _reads

    Being only 29 pages long, I would say that this is a short guide to plotting. It describes the 8 step method in a nice and clear way but it is very basic and not as "visual" as it claims to be. To me, it felt like a summary of other books I have read on the subject. Helpful to the beginner but nothing unique really. I would have liked to see some examples of the "objects" and "flashes of colour" that he keeps referring to. Being only 29 pages long, I would say that this is a short guide to plotting. It describes the 8 step method in a nice and clear way but it is very basic and not as "visual" as it claims to be. To me, it felt like a summary of other books I have read on the subject. Helpful to the beginner but nothing unique really. I would have liked to see some examples of the "objects" and "flashes of colour" that he keeps referring to.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris C.

    Loved it! Solid perspective on how Derek flows through his story writing process. He points out how each person - including his readers - might find a different path to good story writing. But a skeleton is a skeleton: there is a process of story development which works and he tries to stay within said framework.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amrita Basu

    Must read for first time fiction writers I love reading guides and books about writing.Its always helpful in bits and pieces.But the plot dot.Walks the talk.The blueprint method and the template helps break the task into doable pieces.It also helped me rework the plot in the parts it had unravelled.Must read if you are writing fiction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    D. Thrush

    This is basically a concise summation of Larry Brooks’ method but formed in a circle (dot). There are also typos such as pantsers write by the “scene” of their pants. This method is mostly helpful to outliners. Read “Story Engineering” and “Story Physics” by Larry Brooks, which go into more detail.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Hutchinson

    Worth a Read A lot of plot books give the same trite notes. This book greatly differs in that it gives more of a practical way to address plots versus in a technical manner. For those experienced writers like myself, who sometimes need a refresher every now and again, this is a relatively quick read that will most likely very your current plot points while keeping you on tract.

  23. 5 out of 5

    R.C.

    An ok free book to read if you've not read much about plotting, but redundant with other, better works if you have. Honestly, this book looks like a freebie teaser that would normally exist to get you to buy the author's full book. Confusingly, there's no full book to be had at this point, which just means this comes across as superficial and covering much of the same ground as other books on plot structure without adding much. The plot points he covers are mashups of the 7-point structure and t An ok free book to read if you've not read much about plotting, but redundant with other, better works if you have. Honestly, this book looks like a freebie teaser that would normally exist to get you to buy the author's full book. Confusingly, there's no full book to be had at this point, which just means this comes across as superficial and covering much of the same ground as other books on plot structure without adding much. The plot points he covers are mashups of the 7-point structure and the hero's journey. Then, at the very end, he introduces a more detailed 24-point plot outline which does look interesting...but he doesn't go through it at all. He just points to his Youtube video series. I looked at that a bit, and it doesn't even seem to really go much into the 24-point structure (or if it does, it doesn't have an easy way for you to skip the rehash of what's already in the book to jump right to the new info). Also oddly, the main unique point the summary info (and title) hangs on (the "visual" part) is mentioned only in passing in the book, and it's not complex: he feels that you should add a visual spot of color/interest to each scene/section, to help focus interest and be an emotional touch point for other parts of the plot. The idea is a good one, and its' the only the reason this book gets 2 stars rather than 1 star. But that's really all the author says about it, and it's not really clear how that is set apart from or integrated into just writing your usual descriptions. Overall the book doesn't have much new to say and loses points for teasing info that it doesn't actually deliver.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chandrima Das

    Moderately useful. Lacks depth but that's understandable since it's meant to be a quick guide. If you're serious about writing stories you might be better off investing in a proper plot structure guidance book. Moderately useful. Lacks depth but that's understandable since it's meant to be a quick guide. If you're serious about writing stories you might be better off investing in a proper plot structure guidance book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Reham

    Extremely Well-Written and Helpful I feel like I needed to highlight the whole book because every sentence makes a good point that needs to be highlighted. Excellent and helpful book!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard Goodrum

    Good, solid, basic writer's material. I found it contains all of the things that I expected but nothing that I hadn't anticipated. If you are still unfamiliar with the writing process, this will likely help you move forward quickly. But practice is absolutely required. Easy-to-read. Informative. Good, solid, basic writer's material. I found it contains all of the things that I expected but nothing that I hadn't anticipated. If you are still unfamiliar with the writing process, this will likely help you move forward quickly. But practice is absolutely required. Easy-to-read. Informative.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Gallant

    I enjoyed the last book that I read by Derek Murphy on writing. He did not disappoint in this book either. He gives some interesting insights of what he thinks will help you become a better writer and what needs to happen in each section of your book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gena Oestreich

    Invaluable information This book was so incredibly helpful for a beginner writer. I started word vomiting my first draft and this book was invaluable in helping me guide my story in the right direction.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dian Burns

    Excellent tips and techniques to help organize your thoughts, train your habits, and focus you intentions on becoming a better writer. I made so many notes I'm thankful my Kindle could highlight them so I don't have trouble finding them quickly. Excellent tips and techniques to help organize your thoughts, train your habits, and focus you intentions on becoming a better writer. I made so many notes I'm thankful my Kindle could highlight them so I don't have trouble finding them quickly.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cooch

    If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Too general to be of much practical use. There are one of two pointers in the right direction. This 25 page pamphlet is really an advertisement to sell his other books. What did you expect for nothing?

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