Plotting for Plan G

I’ve been on a Leverage kick lately (Great show if you haven't seen it), and last week I watched an episode where the team’s mastermind, Nate, was talking about the importance of having a “Plan G.”

Nate: You never count on the perfect plan. The perfect plan, it has too many moving parts, and it's... you’ve got to expect the perfect plan to fail.

Alec: Then what do you count on?

Nate: I count on the simplest and ugliest plan. Not Plan "A," no, but, like, Plan "G," for example. I start with Plan "G.” The quick, simple, ugly plan that I know is gonna work if everything goes bad. I just pretty it up a bit, just add this and that.

Brilliant advice, you guys! So, here’s my new theory on plotting: I’m going to call my true plot, what I as the author know actually happens, “Plan G.” Then, my job is to throw readers off of Plan G by weaving in the pretty, distracting details of Plans A-F.

By the way, I don’t mean that our Plan G’s should be simple or ugly – that would make for boring reading. Or overly complex, which would bog things down and infuriate readers. But I do love the idea of layer upon layer of plot twists to disguise the book’s true direction.

I think it’s an awesome way to build suspense for readers. They’ll see clues for Plan A (and maybe for Plan B if they’re really adept)…but they’ll gloss over the hints for Plan G because they’re not looking for it. Yet, we the authors will know that’s what we plotted for all along.

It’s the same principle of using red herrings and false leads, but with a little more panache in the plot layers.

What do you think?

P.S. If you want to read a fantastic example of what I’d call a Plan G plot in action, check out Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon. I’ve blogged about it before, and I don’t want to spoil any secrets. Suffice it to say…you’ll never see the true plot coming until the final reveal. Then, you’ll kick yourself at all the hints you missed along the way.


  1. That's an interesting quote, and way to apply that to writing. I might have to apply this to my WiP and see what comes of it. :)

  2. Great theory. I think the trick is to make the reader feel they COULD have worked it out, not make it so off the wall that no one could possibly see what was coming. I feel a bit short changed if it's like that!

  3. Plan G it is!
    And Leverage is an awesome show.

  4. That's excellent advice! I'm definitely going to have to try this technique out. It's all about how you can pull the reader in!

  5. Fascinating idea. I think overall, plan G is conflict That's what makes a great plot, tons and tons and tons of conflict. At least for me. :)

  6. Hey,

    Thanks for all the nice comments (as always :) and for the tip on this show... I hadn't even heard of it... but then again, if it ain't on Disney Junior or PBS Kids, I ain't seeing it anytime soon :)

    I love the idea of Plan G and when I start WIP #2 in the Spring, I'm going to look into it more :)