All stories share a simple common structure, right?

how to plot a novel template

So the simplest way to outline your novel or any type of story is to use that universal template by way of scaffolding. And you do need to use some kind of novel outline before you start writing. Plotting a novel from scratch? Imagining the whole thing in your head before you start? Use a simple, dependable template to build an outline of your novel, then slowly fill out the detail.

Yes, filling in the detail can be a slow and tricky process. And that means, yep, that YOU need to start simple. Get a sheet of paper or notebook and have it by you as you work your way through this post. And now sketch in your answers in as few words as possible. That means a maximum of sentence for each heading there.

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Too much complexity — all that intricate plot detail — just gets in the way of finding the actual bones of your novel. Good to know, huh? You probably want an example of what your outline should look like, right?

Your story outline might look something like this:. Status Quo Lizzy and her sisters will be plunged into poverty if her father dies, so they need to marry and marry well. She despises Mr Darcy and likes Mr Wickham. Lizzy agrees to marry him, deciding now that she loves him, after all.

You just need to do the same with your book or your idea, and keep it really simple. He killed someone? Stole money?

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Something else? Something to think about. So if you were Jane Austen, and had a good handle on your story, you might put together something like this. Jane and Bingley marry.

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She is later found and helped by Darcy. Subplot 3 Odious Mr Collins proposes marriage to Lizzy. She says no. Her more pragmatic friend, Charlotte Lucas, says yes. Sketch your additional story material down as swiftly as neatly as Miss Austen has just done it. Or why or how events unfurl. Too much on plot or character mechanics early on can confuse first plans, so try and simplify. Taking one subplot above as example, Charlotte wants security through marriage to Mr Collins. Nothing should be superfluous — and planning like this at the outset helps you be sure everything you write is significant.

And do actually do this. Remember as well that every subplot or story strand, or whatever you want to call them has its own little journey. The basic idea there is golden. If you give that exercise your very best go and just draw a blank? In one bound.Learning how to plot a novel means first understanding the elements of great plots. Secondly, you need to be able to incorporate these elements in your own writing.

The British author E. Plot is the way story events are arranged sequentially to show cause and effect.

how to plot a novel template

Here are 7 ways to make sure you plot your novel well :. Yet if you tend to get stuck at some point during drafting, create a plot outline. Creating a plot outline helps because it lets you step back and get a broader view of your narrative. You start to see clearer how it all might fit together. To start thinking about the cause and effect that drives your story, you can simply extend your story idea.

We could expand E. The king dies under suspicious circumstances. The queen dies of grief shortly thereafter. The one sees the son as an obstacle between herself and the throne, the other has vowed to protect him. The example evokes curiosity: How will this conflict triangle play out between the squabbling sisters and the heir to the throne?

What will happen to the prince? There is already promise of plot cohesion — the action of the story relates to the opening premise.

how to plot a novel template

The story obeys its internal logic — a power vacuum is created and this attracts power-seeking characters. There are many different ways to outline plot points. The main plot in the expanded example above is clear. Yet secondary plots or subplots are useful too and key to understanding how to plot a novel of a little greater complexity.

Subplots often extend, complicate, or give different insights into the main themes and events of the story.

Outline your Novel Fast, Easily and Well with this Simple Story Template

So the confidant assists the other sister vying for the throne. This subplot would illustrate the complexity of deep ties of friendship alongside the ties and petty struggles that exist between family members.

If your characters have clear motivations, they will inevitably lead to major story events and lesser subplots. To plot your novel well, make sure whenever you introduce a character that you have an idea of what their main purpose is in the story. This will help you to create concrete, bold characters as opposed to characters who waft in and out of your narrative and seem to lack purpose.

You need to plot both the broader story arcs — what happens from chapter to chapter — and the smaller ones the courses of individual scenes and chapters. This is a key step in the Scene Builder tool in the Now Novel dashboard for a reason. Jot down a rough idea. Write down:. This makes rewriting and revising at a later stage easier, too.

We might love creating characters but hate trying to describe their homes. We might love writing the fast-paced action scenes but abhor dialogue.

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Learning how to plot a novel means learning how to pay equal attention to each element of novel-writing, though. Make sure, as you plan your story, that each element is clear. Ask yourself:. Change and the unexpected are two core elements of plot and a major part of what makes a great story gripping. People change, and places, too. Creating a plot outline is crucial if you want to have an idea where the story is going. Although a plot outline is helpful for structuring your story and staying on track, remember that it is a flexible blueprint rather than a rigid structure each element of your novel must bend to fit.Is plot important?

You could write experimental literary fiction, for example, or character studies in which very little happens. For the rest of us, plot is the thing that keeps readers turning the pages. There are probably countless reasons why you decided to write a novel. Plot is the thing that allows you to pour your heart and soul into a novel without sending your readers to sleep. You do it by breaking down the plotting process into smaller steps.

A plot as a whole may be complicated enough to make your head spin. This series of articles walks you through the entire process. Click on the links to jump ahead if you wish.

Outline your Novel Fast, Easily and Well with this Simple Story Template

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to plot a novel in Part 2here are a few articles looking at plot from 30, feet…. Stupid question, right? The events should reach a satisfying conclusion. And understanding those details will ensure that you lay a rock-solid foundation for the plot in your own novel. They can change in a large or a small way. They can change for the better or the worse. All that matters is that they change in some way.

How come? Because if the hero is precisely the same person at the end of the story, both in terms of their life circumstances and their inner make-up, you have to ask what was the point of telling the story at all. Finally in our high-level look at plot, an article on the three phases of your plot: the beginning, the middle and the ending.

We look at the characteristics of each phase. We ask what separates beginnings from middles, and middles from endings. What it does do is allow you to take your initial plot idea and make sure that it has all the fundamentals in place.

It involves these three steps…. One solution is to begin with the disruptive event in Step 2, and then go back to show how things were in Step 1.

If the beginning of a plot is all about making a character take action, the middle deals with the action itself.Visit our template gallery to browse pre-made templates you can add to your Evernote account. But as any fiction writer knows, the hardest part of any new work is figuring out what to write about in the first place: What happens next?

What motivates these characters? Only you can answer those questions, but it helps to figure them out early. Many of them include questions or prompts to get you started, but you can feel free to replace those with inventions of your own. You can then copy, move, rename, and edit the note to suit your needs. Choose the one that fits your personal style:. Story premise worksheet Your premise is the foundation on which the entire novel is built.

The end product is a concise, two-sentence explanation of what your story is about. Three-act plotting template Remember learning in school that all stories should have a beginning, middle, and end? Story beats template Adapted from the world of screenwriting, this popular method replaces the concept of acts with a set of milestones that commonly appear in many kinds of stories. Inspired by fractal geometry really! Each step of the process methodically expands upon the one before, filling in detail until you have a complete draft.

Story timeline tracker Regardless of the plotting method you use, keeping track of time in your novel is important. Did your hero get that threatening letter on Tuesday or Sunday? Does the next scene happen on a sunny morning or in the dead of night? The following templates will help you brainstorm and remember the little details that make a story come to life, or just give you a bare-bones overview for easy reference:.

Character master list Got a lot of characters? Add names, ages, and comments. Drop in a photo or drawing of each character to help you visualize your story. From their hair color to their biggest secret, this questionnaire covers it all. Then you can write richer, more realistic scenes that draw the reader into your world. A novel has a lot of moving parts. Consider adding a couple more to keep it all straight: a dashboard where you can manage the whole thing, and a checklist for bringing your completed opus to the world.

Add it to your shortcuts for easy access, and insert links to related notes to save time on searches. TIP: If you copy this checklist into your dashboard note, you can easily track your novel from first brainstorm to final publication.

Evernote is proud to be a sponsor of National Novel Writing Month.Are your eyes tired of staring at a blank Word document?

Are you sick of crashing and burning every time you try and start a novel? Well, we have the not-so-secret key to success right here: it involves learning how to outline a novel. Book outlines have saved the neck of many a bestselling writer — but the process behind them is mysterious at best.

How to Plot a Novel on One Page for NaNoWriMo & Beyond

In this post, we pull back the curtain and show you step-by-step how to create a story outline. Time invested in a story outline is foresight gained for your novel.

You could just leap onto the rock and see what happens. Or: you could stay on the ground a little longer to read the route. This would enable you to climb faster, more fluidly, and with greater confidence in the near future. Many bestselling authors would beg to differ. Rowling, Joseph Heller, and more created to plan their books later in this post.

So let's see what equipment you need to get you going. Click To Tweet. First, throw out your old high school outlines. Think of it as a way of organizing your room — everyone tidies up differently.

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Here we list a few ways that you can plan a work. Examples of beat sheets are here and here. Imagine a roadmap with only big-name destinations marked in red — the road to get there is up to you. Prioritizes character development, character arcs, and character beats over planning of the plot. When you have an idea of the novel outline that you want to produce, it's time to arm yourself with the right tools to execute it.

The Gardener In George R. They kind of know what seed it is. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don't know how many branches it's going to have. They find out as it grows. The Architect Architects need to plan everything before they can get going. The Designer Designers are somewhere in-between: they have a pencil sketch in place and like to have a good idea of what the painting will look like.

Though they might not rely on a strictly detailed novel outline, they may want to sketch out a skeleton of plot points.

The Knitter Knitters sit down and write scenes as they pop into their head. To them, a novel outline will be helpful as long as it gives them freedom to move scenes around.

how to plot a novel template

Think notecards or a corkboard. Without groundwork, your scenes and story will collapse in on itself. Before you can write a good plot, you need a good premise. Here are a few ways to test the solidity of your premise.

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Developing motifs will help further sharpen the theme of your book. Equally important are the walls of your novel: your characters. To give you a starting line, read about the basics of character development here.

Then we recommend you jump into this post on character profiles and download its thorough character sheet. Don't fret about nitty-gritty stuff like chapter length yet.There are a few plotting worksheets, with spaces and questions for you to fill in your own work — some of them are good. It is 1 page, bare bones, easy to view at a glance. It is two pages, and gives you more to chew on as you plot.

Note: if you are in the early stages, it might be easiest to fill in this worksheet out of order. For instance, you might only know your inciting incident and your climax.

But from climax, you can work backwards to deduce your darkest hour, etc. I hope this helps. Of course, every story is different, and there truly are no rules to plotting. Tweak as desired. You can work out your sub-plots using the same worksheet. View the full list of available organizational documents. These documents are intended for personal use only. Copyright applies. Please ask permission for anything other than personal record-keeping.

Thank you all so much for your support! Annie is a novelist, blogger, nationally award-winning poet, and two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated short story author. Annie Neugebauer. Skip to content. Novel Plotting Worksheets Want to help support the author? Happy plotting!

Share this:. Want to receive my new blog posts by email? Sign up below! Like what you've seen here? You can leave a tip using PayPal! All rights reserved. Proudly powered by WordPress.Plot summary templates or story outlines are simple structures that can be used as the basic building blocks for plotting a novel.

For example, a romance story will always have a part where the two love interests meet. There will almost always be a part where they are at odds with each other, and a part where they realise the truth of their feelings for each other. A mystery will generally start with a crime, include misdirection and red herrings and end with the sleauth confronting the perpetrator. Authors can use these novel outlines to ensure their story follows a solid tried and tested structure. Some authors can have a negative reaction to the idea of using existing structures and ideas to underpin their writing.

Writing is a creative art, after all - so shouldn't every second of it be inspired by the divine muse? As well as being a creative art, writing is a skill and it is a craft.

And becoming skilled at your craft means learning from other experts and using the right tools in the right way. It means learning best practice, useful techniques and the basics. But not using some kind of plot structure will in most cases guarantee you a bad one. Of course there are exceptions, but if you're capable of writing one of those, you probably wouldn't be here reading this. These structures can be found underlying the vast majority of stories from early myths to Shakespeare to today's bestselling novels and blockbuster movies.

They aren't an exact blueprint for you to measure up to by the milimetre, they simply suggest that if you would like to build a house, you might want to include walls, a roof, windows and a door.

The plot structures below are available as free downloadable PDFs. But there is a beter way to use them. There you can select your template from a dropdown and simply fill in each of the stages directly into the software.

You can also add your own stages, delete ones that don't work in your story, sort them into Acts, and drag and drop them to shuffle them into the perfect order.

Get a free trial of the Novel Factory to see it in action. If you like these, you may also like our free book writing worksheets. The protagonist begins with something missing from their existence, even though they may not be aware of it.

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