Look at any successful novel and you will see the foundations are in a well-planned plot structure. Depending on which writer you ask, you will get different recommendations for romance, thrillers, literary fiction, and other works. There are 3-5 plot formulas (again depending on who you ask) each with its advantages when used in particular writing works.
This plot formula is seen in Greek stories and renaissance works like Shakespeare. It starts with an exposition which is followed by rising action to a climax in the middle of the story. This is then followed by falling action and ends in a resolution.
This plot formula is very boring and wasteful considering that many readers will not be bothered to know what happens after the climax. But it can be used for children book where children are still learning about actions and consequences in human behaviour.
Hero’s journey formula
This plot formula is also widely seen in earlier books especially those of the adventuring kind. The hero is called to action against a threat or evil force. He travels and battles with the evil force and eventually overcomes his adversary. He then returns home a changed man to fight his inner battles. The Odyssey and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy are good examples.
The Fichtean formula
This plot formula is probably the most used in fictional thrillers and other popular books. The exposition interposed in a series of rising and falling action peaks and troughs. The action rise to a climax about two thirds mark of the book with the rest of the pages taking falling action. This formula is recommended for popular fiction as a reader stays engaged by the ever-rising action.
Middle of things plot
This plot formula is widely used in action thrillers where the reader is instantly transported to a dark alley where the protagonist is chasing after a bad guy, or a variation of it. The plot then develops in a series of crises and flashbacks and climbs to a climax. This is followed by falling action and ends in a resolution. Popular action writers like Fredrick Forsyth are very adept at using this plot formula.
The event formula
This plot formula is set off by a disruptor in the protagonist’s universe, for example, an evil dragon in Beowulf. This plot starts at the point where the protagonist is involved in the event. It then builds up in a series of events to a climax where the adversary is overcome or the hero fails. The Iliad is another good example of this plot formula at work.
What plot formula do you use? Let me know in the comments!