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Ponder, Plot & Plan…and a Highland Conquest GIVEAWAY!

It’s December already, and alas, my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) goals died with a pathetic whimper about mid-way through November—the best laid plans… 

Which was the problem, really, because in terms of my writing process, I’m what is called a plotter (as opposed to a pantster) and by the time I’d finished HIGHLAND BETRAYAL, book 3 in The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod series, I didn’t have time to plan book 4, HIGHLAND CAPTURE, before NaNo started.

My process looks something like this: first I mull on the story and let it percolate—I may look through Pinterest and find images for characters and settings that appeal to me or tap notes into my phone when they come to me in the middle of the night. Then I work on character profiles, interspersing those with writing down scenes in random order. And at some point I pull out my plot graph, which I use for every book. This graph comes from writing guru Michael Hauge, although his version is much more detailed:

I begin by inserting scenes where they fit on the graph. The most important scenes are on the bottom row and they are called Turning Points—specific scenes that turn the story in a new direction.

For example, in HIGHLAND CONQUEST (out February 6/18) the second turning point—called Change of Plans—is when my heroine, Amber, blackmails my hero, Lachlan, into becoming her clan’s new laird. This is after Lachlan invades her clan in an attempt to catch and kill the previous laird, who murdered Lachlan’s brother.

The third Turning Point—called the Point of No Return—is when Amber is attacked by the villain and almost killed. It happens at the midpoint of the book and increases the romantic stakes between the hero and heroine because of Amber's close call, as well as increases the danger stakes when the hunt for the villain intensifies.

In my current book, HIGHLAND CAPTURE, the Change of Plans is when my hero, Gavin, decides to kidnap my heroine, Deirdre, and take her back to his castle. (I love a good kidnapping story!!)

Often I start writing the story before I have my graph/outline complete, but I make sure I know the Turning Points. It’s like having a roadmap to your destination and each Turning Point in the story is a major turn on the drive—if you miss your exit, you’re going to meander aimlessly (and boringly) and never arrive at your Happily Ever After.

But no need to worry, HIGHLAND CONQUEST will get you to your romantic destination on time!


And if you want to find out how HIGHLAND CONQUEST ends, Goodreads is having a Giveaway!!!

Here are the pre-order links for HIGHLAND CONQUEST in case you’d rather go straight to buying the book:

Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:

Take care everyone,

Alyson McLayne


  1. I'm mostly a plotter as well, but still learning how to be more effective! Thanks for explaining your process. I'm enjoying this series - a man in a kilt is a perfect image!!

  2. Your process sounds a bit similar to mine. I started as a panster but if you want to sell on proposal you have to plot. I start with a bare bones plot using turning points.

    Good luck and congrats on your series!!


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