Planning and Plotting

It’s often amusing to read the signs in front of local churches. Some of them warn you of hellfire and brimstone, and others have more of a sense of humor. Few make you think really hard, but this one intrigued me: “God plans; Satan plots.” (Well, the actual sign read “God plans, Satan plot,” but some things are more important than subject-verb agreement.)

When I think of plotting, I tend to think about an evil mastermind rubbing his hands together as he plans world destruction, but with planning, I think of writing out my daily to-do list in my planner at work, hoping that my day doesn’t get derailed by out-of-the-blue assignments yet again. So that inspired me to look up the definitions of the two words:

plan (v.): to arrange the parts of; to devise or project the realization or achievement of

plot (v.): to plan or contrive esp. secretly; to invent or devise the plot of (a literary work)

We do tend to think of God as having the perfect plan: for us to achieve the goal of heaven and be with him for eternity, and we do think of Satan as secretly plotting to catch us off guard. The church was spot on.

That also led me to think of writing. To make stories interesting, writers have to both plan and plot. We don’t want our characters to achieve their goals instantly, or else there wouldn’t be a story. So we contrive to make their lives miserable and get them far from their end goal, but we are also planning so that the “good guys” come out on top. So when they say that worldbuilding and writing is like playing God, they’re not far off the mark. I guess “playing God” sounds better than “playing Satan.” 🙂

2 thoughts on “Planning and Plotting

  1. The other application of planning & plotting to writing is that part of your plan should be out in the open. If it’s a mystery, there will be a crime, probably a murder, it will be mysterious, and at the end it will be solved. If it’s a romance, then… (and so on),

    But a lot of your plan (your plot) had better be concealed, or the reader won’t have any fun. 🙂


Comments are closed.