Don't you just love a form?
Something to fill in, to make you more organised?
Trouble is (and I'm just as guilty as everyone), sometimes all we're really doing is procrastinating - getting everything absolutely planned out, plotted, 't's crossed and 'i's dotted because then, and only then, can we write… Er, yes and no. Yes, because we do need some help to organise our thoughts, and the process in general, but also no, because much like most writers have a well developed fetish for notebooks, we never fill half of them. Same is true of forms. They're exciting and make you feel like a real writer, but fill them all in and you could have written a book in the time it took (I jest). But seriously, don't get bogged down in the detail, but do use things as a prompt or to give your brain somewhere to dump its ideas.
Here are I few templates I've developed over the years and why I find them useful. Sometimes I use them all, and for some books hardly at all.
The templates are all downloadable PDF's which can then be printed and used as required. However, as I use Goodnotes to keep all my writing projects organised, they're primarily developed for use in either Goodnotes or Notability where you are able to import PDF documents. The benefit of using them this way is that you can create multiple and never-ending copies of them if you wish. Feel free to nab whichever ones you think you might find useful.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE:
To view any of the documents, simply click on the photo. A new window will open showing a larger version of the document.
This can then be saved to your computer / device (export it as a PDF) or printed direct from the screen. Once saved it can be opened in Good Notes or Notability by importing the document. You can then change the file name to whatever you wish.
The story structure is the first port of call to establish when certain elements of your story need to happen. Using it will ensure a well planned and evenly paced story - no saggy middle! If you're just starting out you might find it useful to take a look at your overall plot and decide which elements fit where - you can then use this knowledge to help plan your chapters. You might even find it helpful to add detail to the plan by adding in your rough chapter numbers. So, for example, if you are planning approximately 30 chapters, then chapter 15 will be your mid way point and so on. Keep an eye on the structure as you write or wait until you have a first draft and then use it to help edit your work into good shape.
The story arc is a really good way to visualise the highs and lows of your plot. Do your characters start out in a good place and then hit problems, or are they rock bottom to start with, slowly climbing out of the pit as they go? Used in conjunction with the story structure above this can really help see how all the elements of your plot work together to give your readers a really good experience. To see this way of plotting in more detail, have a look at this video by Kurt Vonnegut who explains it beautifully! Click here and a separate page will open.
These character prompts are simply a list of pointers to make you think about these Very Important People. Who they are and what they do. I read somewhere once that your readers don't need to know what your characters like to eat for breakfast but you should. Blimey! I have friends I've known for years and I couldn't tell you what they like for breakfast. I do, however, know how they'd react in a certain situation. I know what they look like and what car they drive, or what cake they'd choose if we went out for a coffee. What I'm trying to say is you don't need to know everything about your characters, so use as few or as many of these prompts as you like, you'll find the level of detail that suits you best. It's a good place to start for inspiration though, or if you're 20 books in and out of ideas, a useful reminder!
It might sound daft, but they mount up! Keeping a list is also particularly useful if you're writing a series of books, or have a large number of characters. It also really helps when you come to write subsequent books and never having characters with the same name is important to you.
Use these templates to plan the main points of action in your chapters or scenes, what the purpose of them is and how they climax . They also have a handy 'what's next' section so you can ensure you follow up any ideas or subplots. They're also useful if, like me, you don't really plan to that level of detail. This space allows me to give myself a nudge about what I need to deal with in the next chapter. Write loads, or hardly anything, or scribble across them sideways, it's up to you.
Timelines come into their own when your editing your work. You know those times when your characters say annoying things like 'I heard that yesterday' and it was actually two days ago. They're also useful for getting the bigger picture on occasion, but mainly it's so that you don't make silly mistakes - readers love pointing them out, and even after an array of edits, they're easy to miss. I've also included a section to note whose point of view he chapter is written from. This can be handy if you have multiple narrators and gives you an easy way of keeping an eye on how well spaced these different points of view are. Otherwise you might end up with one character hogging the limelight.
word count tracker
I write using Scrivener which keeps note of my daily word count, but if you want to keep track of it manually, this template will do the trick. There's space to enter your overall target, eg. 90,000 words, and the number of writing days you have available in order to finish. Dividing one by the other will give you a daily word count. Then, simply keep track as you go. Word count trackers are great for motivation – on the days when you're flying, beating the day's total is cause for celebration. On the days when every word has to be dragged out of you kicking and screaming, they're also great for telling you when you can stop and put and end to the misery!
academic yr diary 2022/3
Somewhere along the line, a diary is a must have. I worked in schools for many years so although my children are now adults I still feel as if the new year starts in September. Plus the autumn is such a wonderful time, full of delicious industry and optimism, what better time to plan for the coming year? The template is dated and includes the full 12 months from September 2022 to August 2023. There's also a little room for notes and a to do list.
If you're not a fan of the academic year then I also have two other templates available. One for the calendar year 2022 and one for 2023.