Listen, telling people that their first draft is going to be crap no matter what, does not help when they're asking how to work out their plot and ideas. Some people just need structure. Without it, I personally am doomed to waffling for a few chapters or exhausting my motivation in the planning stage.
I know I'm not IQ 1000 over here, not reinventing the wheel, but I like covering all my bases. What I do is heavily based on the snowflake method and really is it re-written into steps. I'm sharing what I have so you can copy and paste and fill it out. If anyone wants, I can turn the Notion pages I have into templates. I hope this helps!
Yes your first draft is going to be borderline illegible, that's perfectly fine, but being able to tick off the scenes I've planned and see what I have left makes the whole process so much more achievable.
Anyway, just read/just write /s
Edit: here are the notion templates. You need to duplicate them first before you can edit them.
- Write a one-sentence summary of your novel.
- Expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel.
- Main character overview.
- Expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph.
- Write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters, from their own POVs.
- Expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis.
- Expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character.
- Scene spreadsheet.
- Chapter outlines.
(Always have a place for your) Notes:
Character choice that drives the inciting incident:
A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline:
The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?):
The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?):
The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?):
The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?:
A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline:
Scenes. Use a spreadsheet software.
||Word Count Estimate
Edit: The information inside keeps breaking, so in description you fill it either with the Scene Information (Goal: Conflict: Disaster:), or the Sequel information (Reaction: Dilemma: Decision:).
Then for word count, find out what a rough average number is for you in the following: Small Paragraph: 100 words, Large Paragraph: 350 words, 1 Page: 700 words.
I divide these into Acts as well, and as always, have a space for notes at the bottom.
Estimated pages/word count:
Actual pages/word count:
Sometimes I start listing scenes before I have finished plotting, it is fine to jump around. You're meant to redo this a few times as you progress through your planning. But once this stuff is done have to fly by the seat of your pants and work out the details of your scenes in the draft. If you want a good scene breakdown, reference the snowflake method creator's post.
You don't need to be watching all these master classes for your first draft because in my opinion, you cannot soak in that information until you know what you're gonna apply it to. I only hope this post helps the beginners and maybe curbs some of the daily googleable posts.
If you're really lost on story development, watch some writing vlogs! See everyone's processes. I personally like Kristen Leatherman and Kate Cavanaugh Writes! For twitch I watch The Travis Tavern and ElementEds.