Tom Hughes – entrepreneur, family man, and aspiring author… But he’s sick of the never-ending “aspiring” part. So he’s set himself the challenge of writing a whole book in just one year; to keep himself accountable and on track – and to give us all an insight into the trials and joys of overcoming creative procrastination – he’s blogging the whole experience.

This time, plans go awry. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As we often talk about on the podcast, the key to success is always to be able to flow with the needs of the moment and of our goals. Enter: The Liquid Plot.

Great Plans and Liquid Plots

As the writing rhythm begins to settle, I’m facing a particularly difficult issue with story structure. As the word count deepens, I’m further and further off track with the overarching plot.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to resort to Photoshop for this one. So here is the expected breakdown of scenes that I wanted to follow…



And here we go with what has actually happened in the first two months of writing…



So I’m struggling to keep things on the straight and narrow. Scenes that I thought might prompt a mere turn of the head have fanned flames and added in whole new characters, dialogue and memories.

It’s thrilling to see the story start to take on its own life, but also scary. I’ve set myself a goal and I’m worried that this overspill is a danger. Having only just surpassed 5,000 words – and I’m aiming to step up my word count in the next months – is this not a recipe for an unfinished book? Or, at best, a mismatched horror?

To be honest, if it has to be a mismatched horror at first draft, then so be it. I’m happy with that.

Using The Liquid Plot

So this is the plan – to use a kind of “Liquid Plot” from hereon in. So instead of writing within the conformity of the first structure above, the overarching plan now will look like this:


The idea would be to establish key notes within the story, not necessarily set scenes, but vital turning points. What happens between those points is pure exploration. Quite scary, but I like it.

So, now I’ve settled on a schematic, I’m going to go away, tear up the plot arc I had and try and distil the story into a few essential moments. Key components of these moments would be:

  • Who is necessary to be there
  • Where it is
  • What happens just before
  • What happens afterwards

These moments are then like stones in water – hence, The Liquid Plot. The water is the creative area that connects the islands of concrete structure. At least, that’s what I’m calling it for now. I might be cursing it in a few weeks’ time.

I’m sure there are other writing guides with the same liquidy idea out there, with improved versions of something like this, but I’m stretched for time (and word count) and I’d rather leap with the direction that seems right at this moment. So onwards and blindly upwards… yet always forward.


Find Tom over at One Book One Year and chuck him email at

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