There’s an important lesson in the story of The Three Little Pigs: whether you’re planning your first book… or defending yourself from a wolf, it helps to start from a solid foundation.
That’s why we’ve prepared the famous fairy tale for you as our first free downloadable Plottr demo, which you can use as a tool for learning how to use our book outlining app — or even just to better understand the elements of a classic storytelling structure.
In this article, I’ll quickly review The Three Little Pigs’ story before exploring how the demo works so that you can use it as a model when plotting your own books in Plottr.
The Three Little Pigs: Plot Summary
While there are a number of versions of the fairy tale, we decided to go with the one where the wolf does NOT eat the first two pigs (yes, that happens)…
Here’s a quick bulleted plot overview:
- Exposition: Three poor little pigs are sent away from home by their mother to seek out their fortunes in the world.
- Rising Action: The three pigs build themselves homes, each one made from a material corresponding to their work ethic (straw, sticks, and bricks).
- A hungry wolf passes by and easily blows the first two houses away, but can’t destroy the house made of bricks.
- Climax: While the three little pigs gather in the brick house, the enraged wolf tries to climb down the chimney…
- Falling Action: …And falls into a pot of boiling water.
- Resolution: The three pigs enjoy a great meal and live happily ever after!
Timeline: Visualize the Tale
In Plottr, the Timeline is where you visually arrange the elements of your story, including chapters, plot lines, and scenes.
Our Three Little Pigs demo is configured to display chapters horizontally across the top of the timeline grid, with our “Main Plot” laid out down the left side, followed by individual character plotlines below:
- Main Plot
- Pig #1
- Pig #2
- Pig #3
Meanwhile, in the middle of the grid, you’ll find Scene Cards which relate what occurs at that moment of the story and can be moved around with your mouse as needed.
This setup allows you to easily view both the main plot points of the story and how individual characters contribute to the narrative and develop over time.
For example, if you hover over the second scene card on the main plot, you’ll find a handy summary of Chapter 2, while beneath it, each individual character line expands on the summary and highlights the actions each individual character takes.
In a nutshell, Scene Cards provide a space to add details about your story, and can be linked to characters, places, and tags.
By visualizing the story of Three Little Pigs like this in Plottr, you can quickly understand how the story works (and where its structure could possibly use a… gust of improvement.)
Outline: Write with a Plan
If you head over to the Outline section, you’ll find another way of visualizing the fable — this one perhaps a bit more familiar:
The Outline view provides a convenient, linear way of understanding the story of The Three Little Pigs.
Here the story is laid out chapter by chapter, with the scene cards organized vertically on the right side of the screen, based on their placement on the timeline. (You’ll also find Tags, Characters, and Places linked with the scene displaying under the text.)
On the left side, we have our clickable chapter list, with colored icons that indicate their corresponding plotlines.
Chapter 5, for example, has Scene Cards associated with four separate plotlines, which is why you can see four colored icons:
- Blue = Main Plot
- Green = Wolf
- Red = Pig #1
- Orange = Pig #2
(These are the colors of the lines on the timeline itself.)
You can also filter the Outline to display only those chapters and scenes associated with a particular character plotline (e.g. the wolf), as you can see here:
This allows you to see at a glance how many times the Wolf appears in the story to better understand its pacing.
When writing, you can use the Outline view as a tool for ensuring your own structure isn’t made of straw.
Notes: Don’t Let Your Ideas Blow Away
No matter what you’re planning on writing, it’s nice to have some place to store your ideas — that’s what the Notes section is for.
Notes provide a convenient location to jot down ideas about virtually anything: themes, point of view, story lore, important objects, general research, alternative character endings, etc.
(Did you know, for example, that there are versions of the fable where the wolf at the end simply runs away?)
You can also link notes with particular Books, Characters, Places, or Tags you’ve set up for filtering purposes.
In this case, if you wanted to see only notes about the Wolf, you can filter by Character. You can filter for multiple elements at the same time, too.
No matter what you’re writing, filtering allows you to easily organize your ideas based on specific criteria determined by you.
Characters: Pen In Your Creations
From here, you can update their name and description, add character avatars, notes, and more. On the right side of the screen, you can see Custom Attributes we’ve created to track some additional characteristics:
- Type of House
- Primary Trait
These fields can be easily added by clicking the Custom Attributes button and then typing in the ones relevant to your story.
Then, once you have these set up, if you want to see which characters has which primary trait, you can then easily toggle that from the filter menu.
Now, if you return to the Timeline section, you can also link the Characters you’ve created to specific Scene Cards.
Just click on the card you’d like to link, click the (+) button next to Characters that appears when you hover, and click on the Character you’d like to add.
Once you have a Character linked to a card (or set of Scene Cards), you can then filter the Timeline to see where and how often they appear in the story.
This can be very helpful for visualizing your book’s structure and locating points of improvement along the way.
Places: Straw, Sticks, and Bricks… Oh My!
Just like characters, Places provides a convenient space to organize your locations in Plottr:
In our demo here, we have a Place associated with each house in the story:
- Mother’s House
- Straw House
- Stick House
- Brick House
In addition, we’ve included a brief description, an image, plus a number of Custom Attributes we can filter by:
- Blows Away
This allows you to quickly see, for example, which houses are blown away by the wolf and which ones are not. Of course, you can customize your Places in whatever way works best for you and your project.
And, just as we saw with Characters above, you can also link the places you’ve created to specific Scene Cards for filtering and organizational purposes.
Tags: Pig Out on Organization
Tags are one of the most powerful features in Plottr, allowing you to organize your Timeline and Notes (with more applications to come), virtually however you can imagine.
In our demo of the Three Little Pigs, you’ll find three types of tags utilized:
- Stage (e.g. Rising Action) = Blue
- Status (e.g. In Progress) = Orange
- Theme (e.g. Hard Work) = Green
If you head back to the Timeline for a moment, you’ll see that we can filter it to display only those scenes matching any of those tags.
Here, for example, you only see the scenes with the “Falling Action” tag applied:
Conveniently, the Tags you’ve applied to the Scene Card also display when hovering over it (along with the color they’ve been assigned):
- Stage: Falling Action
- Theme: Danger
As with Characters and Places, Tags are applied to the scene by clicking into the card and then adding them from the menu on the left side of the screen.
By using Tags in conjunction with your Scene Cards, you can easily organize specific elements of your project to ensure that it’s on track to reach The End with all the resonance you’ve intended.
Project: Plan Ahead Like Pig #3
Finally, Plottr also provides a convenient space to add details about your writing project (or series) via the Project tab.
Here you can add a name, genre, premise, and theme for the project as a whole and for each individual book in it (by clicking on the book itself).
You can also add additional books in your series by clicking the blue plus (+) button.
(We know fables don’t usually get the sequel treatment, but who wouldn’t read The Wolf Strikes Back?)
The Three Little Pigs: Download the Demo
Now that you understand how our demo of The Three Little Pigs works, it’s time to dive in and start planning your own story with Plottr.
Who knows? You might just be inspired to write a fairy tale of your own.
Once you’ve started playing with it, let us know what you think in the comments.