Posted On March 11, 2016 by Print This Post

Plotting: The Flow of Your Story by Houston Havens

Have you ever had a severe case of writer’s block? Well, maybe the problem is something you hadn’t quite realized yet… Houston Havens tells us more!

As a successful traditional and self-published author, I’m asked questions about the craft of writing, and one of the most common is about writer’s block. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe if you’re struggling with not being able to sit down and write, there is a craft problem or you don’t “know” your character(s). The last is an easy fix; interview them or have a friend interview your character and you answer as that character – you’ll be surprised what S/HE says out of YOUR mouth. The craft problem is a little more work.

Now, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hobby author, a newly published author, or an old pro at this publishing business. We all have Houston Havensareas in the process of writing a book that can send even the most Feng Shui balanced soul into emotional chaos.

For some, one of these “ripping at the hair” areas is the balancing of your plot. The peaks and valleys, or the ebb and flow, will make some authors put off starting that next book or finishing the book they’re writing. Others toss in the towel and cry writer’s block. I call it not knowing the flow of your story.

As authors, we are “word” oriented beings, but to SEE where our plot is adrift, we need to become more image-minded to find that perfect flow in our storytelling.

We’re going to compare the flow of an ocean wave to the flow of a plot. If we use a wave’s components; Slope, Crest, and Trough you can begin to build a visual image of the three main peaks you need to make a complete plot; Beginning, Middle and End.

Imagine an ocean with smooth rolling waves. The beginning of a story is our first wave. You walk your readers into the water and they immediately feel the grip of the gentle tide that carries them up a slope; this is the intro, the wave of our story. We hook our readers with fascinating information that will set the flow, theme, and flavor of our story. This gentle slope quickly builds the readers to a crest where your hero hits a turning point that will change his life forever.

This turning point slopes your hero down into the depth of the wave, where he finds himself in the belly of trough. There he finds another turning point (this slope is 25% of your book or the Beginning.) But it is here he sees his chance to turn the storm waters in his favor (This is the Beginning of the second wave of your story). So, your hero swims up another building slope, it isn’t easy. He struggles all the way. At times he might believe he is going to drown or his arms are too heavy, but he digs deep and finds the inner strength he needs to keep swimming. He finally makes it to the second crest of the next slightly larger wave.

Unfortunately, though he believed this wave would take him to shore, he discovers it didn’t. To make matters worse, the only one there in this building storm of vicious waves is the bad guy with an offer to help him. Your hero is faced with the option to accept the bad guys offer or die…wanting neither, he denies the bad guy and slopes back into the depth of the cold ocean floor. Feeling like he’s doomed, but something transform him there at the bottom (This is 75% of your book or the Middle.)

Your hero, despite all the odds against him, pushes forward even when everyone tells him to give up. This is the big one and the beginning of the end. Here the hero refuses to give up and goes for the biggest wave coming at him. As your hero swims up the steepest slope yet to this very last crest; overcoming exhaustion, sharks, and monster waves, he discovers something about himself and a way to win against the bad guy. When he hits this final crest, he does indeed win his battle against the bad guy.

This time his final slide down the wave is more peaceful, and it’s the point where you wrap up all loose ends of the tale and hint to a sequel, if there is one. Otherwise, give your readers the HEA (Happy Ever After.)

If you see the storm (story) in three waves each higher than the next and build your tale with slopes, crests, and troughs, you will find the flow and rhythm of your plot. You’ll never run into writer’s block again, and if you do, you’ll know it’s because your flow is off.

Make a visible chart with your waves and answer who, what, why, and when in your first wave. Create tests and trails that will keep your hero from his goals in the second wave, with it being just a little high to reach the crest, and by the last largest wave have your hero still fighting the test and trials of the bad guy. BUT here show him winning a few and by the time he reaches the last crest, he is the winner! Then give your readers a nice smooth ride back to shore with a sweet closing.

Now, when you have problems and think it’s writer’s block, you’ll know it’s a problem of the plots flow. Get back into your rhythm and swim for the shore.

Happy writing!

Houston Havens


Kindise Wyatt escapes her Star Rider captor and returns to Earth. With the help of a sexy Old World Mole and his mysterious friend, she’s determined to uncover the whereabouts of her lover. Instead, she finds nothing but betrayal and her captor in pursuit.

On the lam after betraying his evil ruler, ex-Dirt Dweller and drifter Jaden Valenti confirms his name is on a hit list. Finding what he believes will be safety amongst the Airbornes, he recreates himself and hides his past until trouble walks back into his life in
the name of Kindise Wyatt, the woman he was ordered to assassinate and didn’t.

Due to the obsessions of a Fae woman Sori gave up his hardearned royal title and left his homeland of Elfame. Love is the furthest thing from his mind until he is sent in Jaden’s place to pick-up some cargo…human cargo in the form Kindise Wyatt. He feels the Fae magnetism of his soulmate in her. Problem is; she’s in love with someone else.

Will Jaden fulfill his orders to kill Kindise and get his name removed from the list, or will his secret be exposed and betray the friendship he has with Sori? Does Sori help Kindise find her lover, or will a love between them have a chance to flourish before a fatal attraction and a determined captor rip their love asunder? Will Kindise find true love or will betrayals at every turn crush the fight out of her? Can she find her inner strengths to keep fighting and lead The Freedom Fighters to defeat the Dirt Dweller elites, once and for all?


Houston Havens, a former successful model enjoying an adventurous jet-set lifestyle, intrigues her readers with a mix of the past, present, and future, and sexy blends of futuristic science fiction, paranormal fantasy, and western romance, always with love everlasting. A tenacious Irish lass filled with passion and mystery hopes her sultry stories will entertain and fascinate those who dare to take the journey. She’s also a social media junkie with an award winning blog.

To learn more about Houston, visit her website or connect with her via the following links: Twitter – Facebook – Tsu –  Google+ – GoodreadsPinterest – Youtube

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11 Responses to “Plotting: The Flow of Your Story by Houston Havens”

  1. Morning Houston..

    Beautifully explained! Oh how I struggle with…I figure one of these days it’s just going to “click”…

    The part on the final wave…where the hero discovers something about himself..that’s a tough one to my brain. Is it because he’s too stubborn to discover it earlier? Because he doesn’t see it until he’s been through hell and back? Is it an epiphany moment?

    =) So many….but it’s a part of the story I can’t seem to find that rhythm to!

    thanks for posting with us today!


    Posted by Carrie Peters | March 11, 2016, 8:54 am
    • Hi Carrie,

      The waves I was talking about are like steps of discovery – as an author you slowly show how the character begins to grow (due to what is happening to him or the one s/he loves) as a being into something better than s/he was…each wave is a step closer (in some cases a push) to this final understanding of himself.
      Take your own life…take a major event that happened to you…now ask yourself how that event changed you forever – because for you to go through it it HAD to CHANGE you in some way…everyday life changes us just by being.
      The first wave is the character seeing something needs to be done, fighting having to get up and do it, until something forces him to get up and do it…this first wave makes him look in the mirror and question why such a thing had to happen before he got up to move…he questions himself and tries to change that. The second wave is his desire to go back to the easy life he had but he struggle to do it because his brain is telling him to do the right thing and not be lazy (to do the RIGHT THING)- not always the easiest road. But in this second peak/wave the bad guy is making the road harder and harder for him to do the right thing…and it makes him more determined to do the right thing even tho’ he wants to just go back to the way things were…he can’t he won’t let himself. The bad guy has a win that makes the hero say “AIN’T HAPPENING MY FRIEND” I’m gonna win and he takes the challenge and goes with it forcing his way through all the mess the bad guy put in front of him until he starts winning and doing the right thing takes him into a self grow and discovery to a new him that he likes and has become and he saved the day as well! Sometimes it’s an epiphany moment but it’s better to show this awareness in stages so it flows in softer to the reader.
      Does this make sense?

      Thanks for the great question I hope I made it clearer on how the peaks flow for growth


      Posted by houston havens | March 13, 2016, 10:18 am
  2. Great post, Houston! Thanks so much!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 11, 2016, 9:54 pm
  3. Good analogy. I go back to my notes and character profiles when I’m stuck, which speaks to your mention of knowing your characters and story.

    Thanks for joining us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 12, 2016, 1:50 am
    • Hi Jennifer!

      Yes, as an author you have to know your character’s flaws, weaknesses, and the good that is in him trying to get out…I had one character who kept telling everyone he wasn’t a hero but everything he did was heroic…even down to saving a puppy…at the end of this series…he will stand as a hero and be proud he was able to save so many.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Posted by houston havens | March 13, 2016, 10:21 am
  4. When you interviewed my main character for Bringer of Chaos, it changed everything. Thank you, my friend. You were absolutely right about writer’s block for me. I did not know my hero.

    Posted by Kayelle Allen | March 13, 2016, 6:30 am
  5. Kayelle! Sweetie…it was all my pleasure and anyone who knows Pietas knows it was a pleasure to interview him…

    I adore you Kayelle!


    Posted by houston havens | March 13, 2016, 10:23 am
  6. Great “Plotting: The Flow of Your Story by Houston Havens” When you met my primary character for Bringer of Chaos, it changed everything. Much obliged to you, old buddy. You were completely right about a temporarily uncooperative mind for me. I didn’t know my legend.


    Posted by Annabel | March 15, 2016, 1:59 am
  7. If you can’t drive a car, you’ll never get where you want to go because you’ll always be driving off the road. If you know how to drive a car, just use the steering wheel to stay on the road and turn where turning is needed. I think that’s your point about writer’s block, right, Houston? There is a road you just need to know how to stay on it. Excellent point. I’m not the biggest believer in writer’s block either. Thanks for pointing out how structure can keep writers focused and on point with their stories (which of course depends on their knowing about how to structure a story.) Honestly, I have never read anything quite like the wave analogy you provided. Thanks for that great insight! Jay

    Posted by Jay Lemming | March 23, 2016, 6:09 am


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