How to Make a Plot Board for Your Novel

The one tool that changed the way I write.

Shaunta Grimes
4 min readFeb 4, 2019

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A plot board is deceptively simple. It packs way more of a punch in your writing than you would expect from a piece of tri-fold cardboard and some sticky notes.

I learned about this tool from the amazing Alexandra Sokoloff, but plotting is obviously something that many writers do in many ways. I don’t plot in exactly the same way as Alexandra does, and once you get the hang of this, you’ll develop your own style.

This is the way that’s worked for me.

One of my plot boards, ready to fill.

To make your plot board you’ll need:

A tri-fold cardboard.

Think science fair project. The size I like the best is 28 inches by 40 inches. Anything smaller than that might be too small and larger is hard to manage.

It’s come to my attention that a tri-fold board isn’t as common everywhere as it is in the US. Any flat surface you can attach notes to will work. White boards, cardboard, even just a window or a wall.

A Sharpie.

Or any other fine point (not the ultra-fine writing point) permanent black marker.

If you’re using a wall or window, you might try washi or masking tape.

A pack of sticky notes.

I just use whatever I have. Usually yellow, because they’re cheaper. You can color code if you want to — a different color for each plot line or for each character, for instance, or one for each type of scene (action, dialogue, etc.), but we’re not going to do that during this series. Pick a color you like or use a rainbow, it doesn’t matter. But you will be looking at these things a lot, so you might as well make them nice to look at.

That’s it. To make your board, use your marker to divide your board into eight parts. I made a video about a thousand years ago showing you how to do it.

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Shaunta Grimes

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)