Articles / On Writing

Plot Sheets

To round out the sheets trilogy, as I like to call it, I’m going to talk about plot sheets. They work pretty much the same as the character and setting sheets. You can have as little or as many sheets as you need. Plot sheets are just a rough version of your outline.

  •  The Plot Bunny Catchall Plot Sheet

plot bunnyThis type of plot sheet is good for writing down the plot, details, ideas, sub-plots, characters, settings, twists, or any other info you don’t want to forget. It’s not meant to be highly organized, it’s just a place to dump the stuff you want to come back to later. From here you can grab many elements of your plot and piece it together if you’re having a hard time laying it all out. No one said that you must have a structured plot to write a book.

  • The Beginning Plot Sheet

This sheet is the starting point of your book. Not only will you introduce your characters, you’ll introduce elements of your plot, the setting, and the rising action of the plot. You’re laying the groundwork for the story in the beginning sheet. Make this as detailed as you can. Write a few scenes that you want for each beginning chapter. Or use the beginning sheet to plot out the detailed backstory for your main protagonist. This sheet is where you create your character’s “duty” in the story. What is your character searching for? Write it here!

  • The Challenge or Rising Action Plot Sheet

This sheet is there for you to jot down what is challenging your characters. Are they held back in life because they are poor or have a rocky home life that prohibits them from exploring their dreams? Does your protag need to do something mentally or physically challenging? How far will they go to overcome their hurdles? Again, make this sheet as detailed as you can. Get into the minds of your characters and figure out their motivations, desires, wants, needs, etc. Establish their mindset here as well.

  • The Conflict Plot Sheet

This is one of the crucial sheets to have. Not only will you lay out the roadblocks for your characters, you will create your story arc or the climax. The plot will come to a head at this point. Your conflict, no matter big or small, will have to be explained well. The setup and challenges are the building blocks, and the conflict is the mountain your characters will climb over. Make sure your conflict is solid so you can move to the next sheet.

  • The Growth Plot Sheet

So you have the beginning, the challenge, conflict, and now growth. By this point of your plot outline, this sheet is where you can organize how your characters deal with the conflict of the story. What do they learn from the climax? How do they improve themselves after the climax? Growth is essential for your characterization as they journey through the story. If a protag lacks growth, it shows and readers will not identify with her or him. On this sheet, write down where you want your character to go in the future, how they will handle the results of the climax, how they treat other characters or themselves differently. Will they see the world differently now that they have gone through the conflict?

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  • The A-Ha Plot Sheet

The solution is the happily ever after or the conclusion of the book. If your book is a series, you may not have the same a-ha moment a standalone may have, but the solution will still present itself in some way. Many writers think the a-ha moment or the solution is an epilogue, but it doesn’t have to be. The solution is basically when your characters get what they want or what they didn’t want. Your characters will also understand their personal growth at this stage of the book. Write out some key aspects you want your character to think or feel by the end your story. How do you want to wrap-up the story for your characters? Do all your characters have the an equal solution or a-ha moment?

Character, setting, and plot sheets aren’t hard to write. And they don’t have to be super long either. They are the primer to your outline and then your first draft.

I find them helpful just to keep myself organized. What do you use to keep yourself organized? Do all these sheets work for your style of writing? Let us know!

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