After decades of only having a vague idea of a story and then diving in to the novel writing process with little to no planning on my part -- I've evolved into a more refined writing creature. Somewhat. Not even really by choice. Heh.
I've had the bones of a new WIP rattling around in my head for the last few months and decided this week to sit down and actually structure it before a single "word" ever hit the page. I might have had about ten pages of notes already written. Maybe. Mostly because this book features heists and heists require planning. So writing a heist book naturally ALSO requires much more planning than I'm used to.
To that end, I dusted off my copy of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel and created two writing tools that have been incredibly helpful in outlining my next book.
THREE ACT BEAT SHEET
One of them is a Three Act Beat Sheet (in table form) complete with demarcations for each section and descriptions of what should be included. It works for my brain, and hopefully it will be useful for yours! I should mention that Jessica Brody also has beat sheets available on her website as well.
The most important aspect of any main character is what they want and how their desires and actions effect the story. That hasn't always come easily to me (I usually come up with the concept before the character want), so in plotting out my current manuscript, it felt really important to fully know and understand who my main character is and how their flaws and desires will wreak havoc on everything and everyone around them. You know, the good stuff.
So I created another Character Sheet (in table form). It's primarily for the main character, but any good story features more than one character with their own unique motivations, so it's a good tool for understanding any character you're writing.
Now fill these tables out and get to writing! ;)
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.