Plotting Circles & Why I Love Them

Plotting Circles, and why I love them.

Good morning, it’s great to see everyone here. Over the course of my writing career I’ve used many programs and tools to plot. Even though I’m a pantser/plotter, but I always come back to my plotting circle to begin a story.



green circle


Everything in the circle is what initial comes to me before I think to write a story. It’s like a movie running in my head. And darn, it always seems to happen just before I drop off to sleep or am about to wake. That’s the reason I keep a note pad and pencil on the nightstand, and a recorder (in case I’m too lazy to come awake.)


What determines if a character whether the protagonist, villain, or secondary character is crucial in a story? It’s what they contribute to move it along. You always need a protagonist, but not a villain if it is a romance. Secondary characters are fun to write because most times they’re the ones causing havoc with the main characters. And it’s a great place to unload your inner demons.

The next circle I use is the full plot circle. This is where everything I can imagine that can happen in the story goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s off the wall, or will never make it into the book, it goes here.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          blue circle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The most important part of the circle is you can’t go wrong. Plot any way you like. I find the plot circle allows me to see everything right in front of me when I start to write the first three chapters. Yep, I tape it to the wall or lamp in front of my computer and if I get stuck or wonder why I’m putting that into the story, I only need to glance up and say Awww! Now I remember, or no, that doesn’t work anymore. And I might create a new circle as I get a quarter into the book to update and change plot points.


I don’t use the circles to build my characters bios. Those I put on large graph paper and pin to the wall. As I write the novel or novella, I’m constantly checking to make sure I didn’t give Jake Carrington black hair with smoky gray eyes when in all the other books he has reddish brown hair and green eyes.  Lol, I’d never forget Jake, but I might with a repeating secondary character and their stats are as important as the hero’s.


I hope this helped. If you’re interested in checking out Jake Carrington and his band of characters, his second book, All the Hidden Sins releases on July 31st. If you read it, I’d love to hear back on your thoughts on both the story and the characters.


Enjoy your week, and keep reading. Here’s a quote I love:


“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
― Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life


cover All The Hidden Sins

Visit my author  page at: Marian Lanouette

Website: Marian’s Website

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Marian, Interesting post! I like reading about other author’s writing processes. Best of luck with All the Hidden Sins. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Joanne. I switch it up when I get stuck, but seeing the original idea in front of me always brings me back to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, Marian. Loved reading about how you write.I can see how it would be helpful, allowing for free swinging pantsing while within a certain structure, which can also change. I may try this next time. I do the character charts like you do. I have to start with a location. I think it’s my theatre background. I have to know what the set is in order to move people around. I’ve shared. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, Marsha. The characters and their environment show themselves to me first. I hope you find some benefit in it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! I’m a total pantser so I’m not sure how this would pan out for me, but I’m going to give it a shot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, that’s how I start out, Jacquie, and put whatever pops into my head in the circle and go from there. Good luck. But you don’t need it your books are fabulous.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author and commented:

    Marian Lanouette explains the value of plot circles on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog. Would this work for you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jacquie, for the share.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. jjspina says:

    This is a clever way to create a story, Jacquie. I wish I could do it that way. I come up with a title then begin writing. I never know where the characters are going to take me. If they go off on a tangent that I don’t like I rein them in. I sometimes don’t know what’s going to happen next or how the story will end until I have a ahah moment and it all comes together. It is exciting to do it this way because it’s like I am a reader not the writer. Other times I nearly have a heart attack until that moment comes. I need to open my mind to the story.
    I do keep a running list of characters as they come up with their personalities and traits. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I write much as you do, Janice, including the heart attack when I can’t figure out where the story is going, lol. That’s half the fun, though 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. jjspina says:

        Yes, it is! It can exhilarating to find the end. 🤗🤪

        Liked by 2 people

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