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



hi everyone Eva devrel here and today I wanted to do something that I've done a couple of times before and if you are on my mailing list you may have seen it which is to spontaneously create a novel or story outline on one single page now before I've done this on the computer screen but today I thought I would as I always urge people to do work on paper so if you would like to play along be sure to grab a piece of paper I think I've got some in here and we're going to be using the one-page novel method so if you're enrolled in the course if you're familiar with the method then that's great and you can also use the one-page novel plot generator that you can find in the download section of the course I'm also going to grab I think these yes this is it I'm going to grab the genre-specific cheat sheets because I thought today that we could do I think we've got thriller we've got sci-fi fantasy I think today we should do a fantasy novel short story or whatever you can use the the out life or whatever you want depending on how much detail you want to add but I thought that since it's you know NaNoWriMo time and I see a lot of people messaging me on Instagram and Twitter and emailing me and I also tried to be active on the Nano forums and I see a lot of people struggling with plot and I really wanted to put something out there that would help people and plotting has been a huge issue for me even after I did my undergrad and post-grad in creative writing I was still having issues with this and I'll talk a bit about that later as well but I think we have romance and mystery but I think we'll go for fantasy today because I'm getting quite a few emails from fantasy writers and I feel like it's a popular genre on the Nano forums as well so let's go with that one so again if you want to grab the these cheat sheets these are the genre cheat sheets and well you can also use the generic cheat sheet which has the usual seen examples and you can also actually get that in the code tree if you want if you're not enrolled in the course but if you are enrolled in the course just go to your downloads section and it'll all be there so I'm going to be using these seen examples and also perhaps some of the generic ones that are not genre specific that are going to be populated by the plot generator so one that in a second but I'm going to start by folding up my piece of paper so if you've got a piece of paper handy we're going to be folding it in half along the short edge once so like that and then along the long edge we're going to short fold it into quarters so we're going to fold it into half right and then we're going to fold it in half again I tend to fold it into the middle I find that is a bit neater I don't know it might be it might not be I'm not sure but that's what I do so you'll also want to grab a pencil while you're at it and also an eraser in case you make a mistake and a pair of scissors because we're going to be doing some cutting you're familiar with the method you know why but if not I think it'll be a pleasant surprise so we've got our eight boxes that are sort of vertical we're going to be using the piece of paper in landscape orientation so it's like this and not like this so now we've got this I am actually going to decorate mine a little bit because I have cute stationery and I'm going to use it any excuse to use it I'm also going to pull in some of these cute sticky notes to do the titles but more on that in a second but while I do that I thought I would explain a bit about the one-page novel method which is the mmm the method I came up with when I was struggling with all this plotting stuff and the way I did that was so after I finished my post-grad degree and I did undergrad in English and creative writing and in post-grad I was a bit fed up with creative writing because all we ended up doing was actually just doing workshops and when you have teenagers workshopping other teenagers it's just not it's not the most productive thing to do so I my post-grad degree and I still didn't know a lot about writing I didn't know how to how to write a novel basically because I've been doing NaNoWriMo since I was in high school so I've been doing it for quite a while and I I'd even won several times in fact I think I won the first time I tried it but I never managed to really have a kind of a manuscript that was you know that was readable that you could read it from beginning to end because what always ended up happening was that I would I would start the story and then I'd get to a point where I would just either find a better idea or I would realize that I was doing something wrong and then I would change direction and I would either start rewriting it or I would just kind of carry on as if I had rewritten the beginning and I would just write notes to myself and so it ended up in this weird jumble and I could never understand what was going on afterwards when I try to read it does that sound familiar to any of you I don't know I hope so because I did this for many many years even though I had taken all these this you know I had all this education and I was supposedly supposed to know what I was doing but no one had ever talked to me at university or you know I guess I'd never come across it in those days on the internet about the idea of what structures and I remember when I first encountered this idea how absolutely mesmerizing it was and I think it was actually the Lester dent pop formula or something like that I have a huge post on my blog about plot formulas I can make that in the links below but yeah that was just a huge eye-opener for me and I started to wonder well why is there actually like are there you know rules that you can follow to do this and so I decided I would go to the library and I would just pick up everything I could find and read everything I could find on the subject of story structure plot formulas you know where the mythological or folkloric at my hands on basically and so I did that for I don't know how long but I had a lot of notes at the end of it and what I found was that they all all these different by the way I'm doing a terrible job with this I'm sorry I can't thank you I can't even do this when I'm not talking little own when I am anyway it's nice to have a little bit of decoration so um at the end of that I found that all of these structures whatever kind of discipline they came from they were all very very similar and if you I think if you look at my post on this subject you'll find the same thing yourself is that they're they're all you know some of them have more details some of them have less detail but they're all I feel like they're all the same but that there is a universal archetypal kind of idea of a story that we all follow that it all feel that that feels familiar to us not because of the way that stories are necessarily but I think the way because of the way we think and because of the way we live that there is something in our experience that is universal to all of us and and that that comes out in the stories we tell and so that was all very good but I still kind of wanted to create something that was simple that was easy to remember and that I could visualize very easily and that was when I had the idea of placing everything on a single page because however detailed you can make these you can also make them very very simple any complex idea can be simplified and a novel is no exception and when you look at a novel it's it can be very difficult to see the underlying structure until you begin to understand what that structure looks like until you can sort of separate the different layers of the story so you can see what's underneath what's the foundation the plot structure and then what's laid on top of it that creates the world but also you know enriches it but isn't integral to the plot and so once you can see that then you you really realize that it isn't as complicated as you really thought it was and that was a huge turning point for me because that meant that I could actually then look at those messy manuscripts that I had from all those NaNoWriMo and I could totally see where I went wrong and I know some of you are thinking well yeah but you know I'm not I map answer I don't plot I don't like to ruin all the surprises of the story for myself and I think that's fair but the thing is that you don't need an outline until you get stuck and that when you get stuck it's very very helpful and I would almost presume to say that you might not be able to make it out without an outline you might need to just sit down and write down all of the scenes that you've written so far and get an understanding of how the whole structure ties together before you can make your way out of the mess but you were placed yourself in so that's a bit of a background of how the one page novel method came about and it's it all fits together really nicely I think and I have since also developed the character building method that I think you may have seen in a previous video I call it the heroine frame so that fits on one page as well and it integrates with the one page novel and I am soon going to be writing up a world building course based on the same principle but there we go that is my page done I have divided it into four rectangles and I've just put a bit of tape around it to make it look nice and so I can tell it apart from all the other ones that I have because well let me show you I have a whole file full of them and there are quite a lot of them so it's really important to me to be able to tell which one is which okay so let's talk a bit more about the actual one page novel method and how it works so I've got these sticky notes I think I'm going to use a couple of colors I think I'll use the yellow and I will put the yellow on the top and this is going to be the kind of light upper world and if you're familiar with the hero's journey that will make more sense to you as well so let's do that like that and then I'm going to turn my paper around what color should we use for the bottom maybe hmmm all purple let's see how's that visible on screen what should I do purple so this is these are the eight stages of the one page novel what do we think I think publishers are better was it magenta and the eight stages are really story elements story yeah I mean story elements they're the kind of eight essential stages of the story that help you plan it out in a really simple way and you know every plot formula that you come across will have different numbers of stages or different beats or plot points or things like that that you add in there the classic is the three act structure which in all honesty I've never been able to understand because I don't understand how something having a beginning a middle and an end really helps you because everything has a beginning a middle and an end so I need a bit more detail than that and then and this is this is kind of the happy compromise that I've come up with so what color do we think mmm I'm thinking kind of purple so I'll go with purple let's pop those back on there so these are kind of the underworld stages and I think it will become clear if you're not familiar with this page layout it will become clear why we're doing it this way in a second so the idea is that these are this way up and the other ones are of this way up so these are going to be upside down let me let me show you so we're going to begin by titling these let's call this resolution this is the end of the story and then stasis this is the beginning of the story and then trigger this is kind of the the beginning action of the story and then the quest this is the longest stage in the story and we turn it around 180 degrees so those are upside-down now and then we're going to write the vault Bo LT and then this is the shift I'm going to be explaining these in a second so if you want if you're following along just title them and if you need more help I'll put links below to where you can download templates for all these as well shift and then we have the defeat hopefully you can read these but I'll zoom you in closer in a second don't worry the defeat and then the power okay so that's our stages mapped out and we are going to start plotting okay so I'm going to be using the one-page normal plot generator as I mentioned that's available on the course downloads if you are a member if you're not enrolled I'll put a link below if you're interested in the course at all otherwise you use other random generators if you want or you can come up with these ideas yourself so the one side of the one-page novel is brainstorming so I'm going to be using the plot generator to give me some of these ideas as well and then it will automatically fill in our example scenes for us but I have a special synopsis for the fantasy genre here so I can use that and I can also bring in these example scenes so the way the one page novel works I think one of the nicest things that I love about it is that it has all these lists of example scenes so let me read you out a few so from the stasis which is the beginning of the story we have for example a scene that shows name and that's the fill in the blank so if you do the brainstorming on this side you'll have like a list of three names so you'll insert one of those in there it might be the protagonist maybe a scene that shows name living in an environment with little or no magic another scene a scene that shows how name or their world are unaware of magic and so on so we can grab any of these scenes that are very similar to all other fantasy stories and we can generate a plot with them now you can add as much detail you can change as much as you want with this plot it doesn't matter the idea is that you can create a very rough outline a very rough guide to begin with and then you can elaborate on it you can give more detail you can expand it as much as you want and if you're interested in appliance and how they can work for you I have a free novel outline a really long detailed novel outline that you can download I'll leave links below and I also have training that goes along with it that will help you decide if outlining is something that you're interested in so let's have a look at the plot generator now okay so I'm just going to refresh this so that we get a nice fresh plot this is entirely spontaneous remember I haven't prepared for this at all we're doing this all together so hopefully you're ready if you're not ready by the way just pause the video and and get all your paper ready and everything and then you can follow along with your own story if you wish and then you'll have your own nano plot so now here's a synopsis Charlie is a delivery person living in a Welsh village who needs nothing more than writing a novel well that's appropriate as if worrying about NaNoWriMo wasn't enough they must now face or overcome a high wall traffic and imprisonment as well as risk losing their life how will a knife sharpener a saxophonist and a spade help them succeed so that's the kind of generic synopsis that we can use or we have this fantasy synopsis that we can also fill in so this one is the magical object is the most valuable item in location and name must find it before magical occupation or lose lost sacrifice forever their only hope lies far away in the hands of a magical occupation from location how will they overcome the obstacle to find the object and why is it so valuable so that probably doesn't make sense until you fill in the blanks so let's look at what objects we have we have a spade we have garden shears and a pen you can really tell that I wrote this plot generated on you so what should we go to let's grab a pen and a pencil so for our object do we like a spade a magical Spade oh my gosh it's like the traveling shovel of death that's so funny a magical pen sounds great right I mean if in doubt be self referential so let's go with a pen I'll just I'm just actually maybe I should note it down on a post-it note and then I can reuse my um my genre cheat sheet there we go so let's say our object is a pen what else do we have a location what do we have here mm-hmm a Welsh village that is also am i doing clearly but was where I was living when I was finishing up my post-grad and trying to understand this whole novel writing situation name we have Charlie I don't think I know any Charlie's actually must find it before magical occupation we have visions a delivery person I quite like that person hmm you can't really see that I should probably zoom you in good night just a sec is that better I'm still writing in pencil so it's probably a bit difficult to read isn't it never mind we'll go over this all over again so we have we're up to here now so we have their only hope lies far away in the hands of a magical occupation so we have another occupation oh hang on I skipped last sacrifice which is what do we have over there life that's that's a pretty big sacrifice their best memory I always liked that one I don't know why I'm so interested in memory and memory loss but there it is so their best memory and then another occupation what did we have a knife sharpener or asacs office X or furnace sex often stuff oh I don't know what to do with either of those a nice sharpener so I'm thinking maybe this is going to be kind of an urban fantasy I don't know or maybe is it an urban fantasy if it takes place in a village or is that what is that a rule to see another location what do we have Oh another book that's nice we're getting kind of is it in cart that that they jump into an added books and in the book and then obstacle and an object what do we have the obstacles a high wall traffic or imprisonment hmm similar let's go with a high wall then and then another object oh the object so this is the magical object we had beginning which is the pen so so we're done with that now let's take a look at the example scenes we have in the plot generator so we have we have our resolution States first so we have hardworking experienced and perceptive for Charlie and then we have some for the world which we can use or not use although for fantasy it it can be quite important to have the world resolutions so we have equal literate and merciful literate is an interesting one considering we're talking about pens and and you know jumping from one book to another and that could fit so let's think about that and then we have some example scenes a scene that shows how Charlie has gained or accomplished writing a novel this is getting very self referential hmm so let's have a look at oh this is another trick I mean obviously we can fold this up as I will show you later on but we can put our post-it on this side and then we will have all the necessary details that we want so let's have a look at our stasis actually no that's look at our resolution because that's what we're going to stop look at our resolution example scenes for the fantasy genre so we have a scene that shows name living in a world of abundant magic a scene that shows name and their worlds new awareness of magic a scene that shows how magic is available to and practiced by name and their world a scene in which a ritual is performed to bring back magic or to purchase in proper use that's interesting I like that one a scene that shows how the magical and non magical worlds are united or living harmoniously also very nice a scene in which name inherits off takes up the position that was foretold by the prophecy mm-hmm so let's think about writing a novel so you can start by noting down let's grab a pen we can start by noting down a few of the resolution states and the resolution states I should explain as my titles go flying I should probably stick these down okay I've glued down my titles so they won't fall off so let's talk about the resolution the resolution is the end of the story we choose a few resolution states or you know could you have go with just one or several and then we turn those into their opposites to create the stasis States and the state is really just something like you know if we have writing a book then at the beginning of a story they haven't written a book that is their state they are they are not a writer or they're not an author or maybe they're not even literate and so that gives us our character development arc right it's really simple so go ahead right now and consider what your characters resolution states might be I would choose one or two maybe to begin with and there can be maybe emotional states they can be kind of things like in love if you're writing a romance or a fantasy it can be you know magical or not magical depending on where you're going and it can then you can maybe choose one that is sort of having something so in the one-page novel you have a list of once goals and needs so it could be one of those that they have for example that would be a very simple way to to create the resolution but that could also be part of the quest so you don't have to use that resolution but that's just an idea if you're struggling so consider kind of the kind of story that you want to tell and what kind of what kind of character that you want to create at the end of it what what sort of world do you want them to live in what kind of things do you want them to symbolize or represent and so if we have Charlie what did we say his resolution states were hardworking experienced and perceptive those are his resolution states that the generator gave us we can always change them that we don't have to go with with what the generator says you can randomize any of the options singly or you can randomize all of them if you want but in this case the world resolutions were quite interesting as well because we had literate for one of them so what if we have a world oh and this is an idea that I was thinking about a while back actually a world where the the magical language is is different so that everyone doesn't speak it and maybe there is also some kind of difficulty with the magical language and the people come together and they are considering a kind of linguistic revolution a language revolution where they try to simplify the language obviously that isn't a a very novel idea because I was actually sitting in a seminar about the Turkish language revolution when I came up with it it was particularly boring seminar which is why I was thinking about magic let's say so let's write our first example seen for goodness sake how many minutes are into this video worthy so let us write we can copy any of these by the way so we could say like a scene that shows Charlie living in a world of abundant magic that would be a simple one and then you can kind of see how that is is general enough that you can you know however much of a pantser you are you can really go anywhere with that that you want but if you are a person who likes to plan things out a bit better or if you've struggled with not having a plan before then you can sit and you can think of all the detail that you want for that although I would recommend that you do the kind of rough outline first so you do all of the stages first and then you go in and then you go in order of the story order and then you then write out in detail all of the scenes and again as I said I have more training on this if you want and I will put links below but yeah that is one thing I should have mentioned is that we are plotting out of order so the plot order is going to be a resolution stasis and then shift down here and then we're going to jump back to the trigger the quest and then diagonally to the power and then we're going to go bolt and oops you can see bolt and defeat so that's going to be the plotting order but then the story order is going to go it's going to start with the stasis trigger quest bolt shift defeat power and back up to the resolution and that will make sense at the end when we bring this together but let's begin with a resolution and let's write our first example scene so I'm liking the idea of the literate world the magically literate world as I was saying so that's right a scene about that I was kind of liking this one a scene in which a ritual is performed to bring back magic or to purchase improper use so we could say yeah a scene that shows that shows and usually I would be writing this in pencil so that you can make changes but I want you to actually be able to see it and I hope you can see that a scene that shows what are we doing oh I'm writing the wrong one okay let's do this one scene that shows how the magical and non magical worlds are united or living harmoniously so let's say the magical and non magical languages sorry for my handwriting that looks terrible I like it let's just leave it at that so we could I don't know how many you would want to write how many example scenes you would want to write for each of them it kind of depends on how long you want your story to be as well so if we're looking at NaNoWriMo and we're writing 50,000 words and if we have mm let's say if we have 2,000 words per scene then we would need 25 plot points so it's very simple to then be able to calculate how much work you need to do and that was another huge problem I had actually when I was writing novels for NaNoWriMo to begin with and I've been doing it you know since high school and I done so many of them and I always every time I don't know if it's because I'm not a very verbose person and I'm not a very talkative person I always come in under word count but I would always always always run out of things to write about I would have this huge list of plot points and scene ideas and things that I wanted to happen and I never got to the end is anyone else like that please let me know because people are always going on about how they hard they find it to cut words and I always always have the opposite problem so please let me know and make me feel better but anyway so that's that's one huge benefit of having an outline or a plot or a plan whatever you want to call it however rough it is it doesn't matter because it will help you so let's carry on so now is one enough well that's right one that relates to Charlie as well specifically so that's kind of his world let's think about Charlie what did we have in our examples from the plot generator mmm a scene that shows how Charlie is hardworking and experienced I quite like that one Charlie sounds nice already so that's right that as well oh yeah I think I'm running out of ink a scene that shows you actually don't need to write all that out either so you can't see um you don't have to write you know a scene that shows etc you know as short as you can make it the better in that sense because you are live working with limited space and normally my handwriting would be like half the size of this especially if I write with a pencil so I always have plenty of room shows experienced so consider your your own story and how you your your character might end up how do they show how do they show their resolution States that's going to be probably quite a big plot point to unfold and you would probably be unfolding it throughout the whole story but at the end and the resolution you really have your characters doing the the last almost it's almost a ceremonial kind of stage the resolution I should talk about the stages as well okay so the resolution is going to be the stage at which the characters have already completed the work of the story so they've done everything they need to do in order to fulfill their role in order to bring the world back to its its kind of status actually because every resolution is a new stasis and that's how you can then bring the the current story in to the next story because whenever you go through the cycle of one story you're always creating the conditions for next one and so the resolution is a really kind of summing up stage you've done all the work already and you just have your characters in a way you know if you think of the end of Star Wars they're just basically collecting their medals you know they've done all the hard work and now they are rewarded they bring back if you're thinking of the hero's journey they bring back the elixir of life and they share it with everyone else so the wisdom that they've gained through their travels is disseminated throughout their their culture their community and so in that sense it's kind of you know the Nuttall what happens often in the resolution but it's so so crucial for closure and I didn't realize this at all when I was before I studied all of this story structure stuff because it always seemed like wow that's done I mean what else is there left to say but really it's like the conclusion in an essay you know you you feel like you've said everything but you really need to sum it up and package it all up nicely at the end because that is what gives people the feeling that that the story is finished it's really it's done its job everything is nicely tied up and some of the things they might not even realize that tied up have been tied up and you sometimes need to point that out to the reader and so that's what the resolution is all about so you know it might seem like not a lot happens but actually it's it's very important and so our job with the stasis then is very simple because we're just going to turn that into its opposite so if we have Charlie as hardworking and experienced at the end of the story at the beginning of the story he is going to be a total lazy lout and he is going to be inexperienced so we can just write that down because that is that's its development arc so that's going to be very important for him so actually let's write down the world stage first in its opposites form and then we can write down Charlie so that they're both side by side so we have the magical and the non magical worlds are are separate so let's write that down and we'll have just like you know it seemed that shows blah blah blah and if we're talking about language then maybe they're divided by this difference in their language so let's say by language and then let's mention Charlie Charlie is lazy and in experience gosh my handwriting is so terrible I hope you can read it even though I'm zoomed in and I'm writing with a pen it's no use if my handwriting is joyful right so the stasis is where the story begins so this is where we are introduced to the characters this is where we we get to know what the ordinary world of the the character is like so what their home world is like what kind of what kind of things they're doing in their everyday life and often the kinds of problems that they're having as well whether they're aware of it or not they will be introduced in the stasis so once we've completed those then we are going to turn our page around and we're going to look at another shift so let's look at our example scenes from the shift for the fantasy novel as well so what do we have a scene in which name discovers that the magical object isn't what it seems so our magical object was where is it here it is our magical object was a pen so clearly we have some kind of story where Charlie is discovering a pen or it is sent in quest of a magical pen and they discover that it isn't what it seems in some way what else do we have a scene in which name must choose correctly between a true magical object and a false one so it's kind of like the Holy Grail choice between you know something that looks legit but something that is legit but doesn't look at a scene in which name recognizes their part in the magical world Essene which name accepts the shadowy side of magic that's a really good one actually because the the stages that are upside down when we look at you know the resolution and the stasis are kind of a light world they represent the ordinary world so the hero goes through the underworld which is the sponsorship as part of that and then they merge back out into the light that's a very common motif in archetypal story structures and so the idea of actually integrating the shadow side is a very important one for the shift so whatever happens that kind of needs to happen at some point so we can have that I think that's a good one and also something that does relate to the object I think because the object is I think it should be integral because it's so it ties in so perfectly right the pen with the with a language revolution so let's say a scene in which so let's just say Charlie discovers that the magical object isn't what it seems Charlie discovers that magical object all that mean magical pen isn't what it seems and also Charlie discovers or Charlie accepts the shadowy side of magic the shadowy side of magic so these three stages really form a very basic triad of the story the essential kind of you know like a tripod structure that that brings the whole story together and the shift is the the point at which the the character kind of the innocent shifts from their resolution state so there so we have Charlie who is in the beginning he is lazy and inexperienced and the shift is the point at which and it's usually like an internal change something you understand that really helps you see how you can get to the resolution and and if you think about the kind of essence of human transformation this is really that story it's the story of how you become someone that you either want to become or this someone that you need to become in order to fulfill other things that you want so we have the list of the things that the character once or you know aims to to get or needs and those are sometimes the things that it's like the story right you sometimes you you get what you need but sometimes you get something that helps you get what you need so that's the story of this transformation and that's why those three stages really form the basis of the story and once we have those in place then our job is really easy because we can bring together the rest of the stages which are all linked together in in that sense the structure brings all of them together like like a house you know it all really supports each other so after we've done the shift which is down here we can turn our page back up and we're on the light side again and wearing the trigger and the trigger is what follows on from the stasis and that is the initial action that sets the story in motion so in Tolstoy's words you know it's the stranger coming to town or the hero leaving leaving town early their home aunt and on a quest his exact words by the way but that's that's the saying that's usually attributed to him so it's it's someone coming to town or its it's someone leaving on an adventure so for the fantasy world what do we have a scene in which name meets a magical stranger or creature there you go a scene in which name discovers they have magical powers a scene in which name witnesses a magical supernatural phenomenon that's a good one I always liked that one I don't know if it's because I'm a huge fan of his stock materials and that's how that begins with that's not someone really you know Lyra doesn't really witness something magical exactly but she does kind of eavesdrop on something and I really love that a scene in which name is bestowed magical powers and that's that's a bit like Harry Potter right you know Hagrid comes in and he's like you're a wizard I don't know does he say that in this in the actual novels a scene in which name finds their way accidentally or on purpose into a magical world a scene in which name is forced or invited into a magical world or a scene in which name sets out to seek magical occupation to ask for their help in attaining their want goal or need so those all involve them leaving on a quest as well do we have any more on this side no so I like that one about overseeing something magical I think we could write that down so what does Charlie Odyssey well he has this he's maybe sent on a quest for this pen or maybe someone else's and he's involved in it somehow so maybe mmm I mean there's no reason why someone would come to see someone who's totally lazy and inexperienced right so I think if he wanders into this adventure it's probably going to be by accident somehow so let's say he accidentally witnesses a magic or supernatural phenomenon or what can you witness something to do with the magical revenue should be what is it the magical language revolution so let's just say that and we can work out the details later Charlie witnesses a what did we say a magic or supernatural phenomenon so hmm maybe it's a meeting of a council only the magic language maybe it's a secret a secret council good that is just shockingly bad handwriting I'm sorry I'm really sorry again I need to be right better I'm just trying to be quick so I don't keep you guys too long so yeah I mean that's that's probably enough for the triggers to be honest after that we have the quest which is going to be the meat of the story especially for a fantasy story right the Questers is pretty crucial so what do we have a scene in which name travels to a magical location a scene in which name meets name and name so you could use the other names that you brainstormed a scene in which name is given a protective talisman which they may or may not recognize as such hmm that's kind of fun a scene in which name begins to learn the laws of magic oh that's a really good one because let's say for some reason he's wandered into this it's this Council and for some reason they decided not to do away with him like they ought to and they decide that they're going to teach him for some reason so let's have a scene in which Charlie begins to learn Charlie begins to the language of magic and the quest is is a stage where there's often like a training montage so the mentor will start to train the character in whatever they need to know and it's also the stage where there is often a quest plan so the the character in this stage they are starting to move down into the underworld of adventure so that they're starting to move into the underworld scenes and this is a new world for them so they're meeting new people there's them finding new places there I think perhaps most importantly they're they're becoming aware of new laws that govern this new world and they're trying to fit in with all this and understand how it works and that's kind of part of whether the training of the mentor will come in is that they will teach the character how these laws work and how they can navigate their way around them so it's kind of it's kind of like changing your way of thinking which is what you you need to do if you want to make that transition from the stasis to the resolution right you need to you need to think the way that people in the resolution think and that's part of this quest and I think we have some more on this side let's have a look a scene in which name and allies join a magical war or battle a scene in which name of allies make a plan to reach magical location so that that's a very typical kind of quest plan is that a I mean obviously someone will send someone on a quest that's why it's called the quest and that they will they will go somewhere new but they will also often make a plan together with their different allies and friends the ones that they've just met in this quest world to go and achieve some kind of goal together a scene in which name and allies face a magical obstacle on their journey to the magical location so let's say Charlie makes new friends and together with these friends he is going on a quest for this magical pen which will which they believe will may be well solved their difficulties that they're having with the different magical languages so let's say Charlie and friends leave Oh journey to what was some about places Oh another book they're going to another book to another book or maybe they're in the you know the so-called real world and they're entering a book to find the magical pencil or pen the magical and this sounds like fun I don't know I like it's a very simple idea it's not terribly novel I guess but I'm liking it so yeah I mean that the quest would be the longest date so you would probably want most of your of your scenes in this stage whereas you could probably get away I mean depending on the length of the story but but for NaNoWriMo especially if you're just doing 50,000 words you could probably get away with a couple of scenes in each of these a couple of short scenes where as the quest would be the kind of bulk of the story so I guess we could write another one what should we do oh the giving a protective talisman that's also something the mentor will often do or it could be some other Eliquis threshold guardian that the character interacts with that they get past maybe they may give them a talisman so let's say mmm who would give Charlie a protective talisman maybe he's witnessed the secret council meeting maybe there was a person on that council who wanted to protect him for some reason Oh maybe they have a secret relationship with him that he doesn't know about so let's say and we have a bunch of name so which we use let's say Georgiana yes charlie a protective talisman and then we have you know we have the potential of a subplot to where we talk about well who is Georgiana why does she want to keep Charlie safe and what does she give him and what is the significance of that and so on so there's loads of possibilities open up there but ok so we've done the quest and now we are actually going to go diagonally so here's the quest and that's good dragging me across to the power so let's turn it around now the power and the wonderful thing about this is that it is basically the inverse of the quest so the quest is moving the character deeper and deeper into trouble but the power is actually lifting them up out of trouble so this is the point at which they realize that the power is in them that they knew what they were supposed to do all along in a sense but they just couldn't kind of bring it up to consciousness maybe and all they couldn't feel it they didn't have that confidence in themselves and so this is the stage at which in which the it's I guess the kind of climactic point when all their troubles are solved and this is very near the end of the story because it's the it's the last stage before the resolution so this is actually where the bulk of the action gets resolved so let's have a look at our example scenes right here can you see that a scene in which name discovers a source of magic within themselves so yeah they are the source of magic a scene in which name recognizes the full strength of their inner magic so it's kind of similar but it but it's like it's like they haven't been aware of how strong they are a scene in which name reveals their true name the true name that's a big thing as well as it's more I think obvious in fantasy because it's it's often overt but I think in many stories it's a very big thing to discover your true name and I have a chapter on that in how to be the heroine of your own story which is my character development course and I really like that chapter because I think it's a really interesting subject the scene in which name fulfills a prophecy so the prophecy is a very it's almost a cliche I guess by this point a cliche kind of facet of fantasy novels so you can you can use that or you can not however you want a scene in which name understands how to use the hidden power of the magical object a scene in which name and allies win the magical war or battle a scene in which magical occupation arrives to help name and allies win the magical war or battle so you know Gandalf comes back and then what do we have we have a few more here a scene in which name remembers the talisman they were given in the quest and uses it to his capable overcome an enemy so that's like Frodo with um what is that thing that but gadreel gives him that thing that he remembers that he has a scene in which name and allies finally reached the magical location so you can kind of see how this if there's kind of an upward trend right the trend is towards good things happening whereas before it's all been bad things happening and now now their luck turns and everything is going much better so what happens with Charlie maybe Charlie discovers that even though it seemed like he was a total nobody and he was lazy and inexperienced maybe actually he was the source of power and not the pen so let's say Charlie discovers the source of magic within him the source of magic within him and since Georgiana gave him a talisman let's say he finally discovers his true name and it's and his relationship with Georgiana which may be is something to do with this true name you know maybe he's related to him in some way discovers true name relation oh my gosh so the true name it can sometimes be you know a family name but more often it's something that actually reveals something about the characters true character their true nature so I think that's really fun I don't know what do you guys think are you liking this story so far so after we've done the power then we have two more stages left we have the bolt and the defeat we're going to look at the bolt first so the bolt is the stage that follows on from the quest the quest is here here's the bolt and as you can see it's that's another underworld stage so things aren't going too great but in the vault the quest kind of comes to a halt the quest plan that was made in in the quest with the character and their allies that comes to a standstill so let's say what's the plan that they made but they and their friends were to leave to another book and they're going to find the magical pen so in the vault something goes terribly wrong and they they maybe they can't get into the other book or maybe they can't find the pen maybe they are waylaid in some way maybe they're ambushed let's look at the examples a scene in which name is trapped by a magic obstacle or object now let's look back at our list what did we have as an obstacle it was a high wall wasn't it so a high wall mmm well whatever do we have any other objects it was a garden shears and a spade oh I totally want to put a spade in there or a spanner let's see a scene in which name and allies are lost in a magical location or straight from or forget their quest that's also another possibility is that they are diverted they maybe the character has some personal issue that they're dealing with that they that kind of takes them off the track and they often it will kind of put a strain on their relationship with their new friends and maybe their mentor as well so that could be a possibility let's talk about a high wall maybe there's a high wall that is stopping the characters from getting into the other book or maybe out of the other book as well okay I think that's a possibility so Charlie and Friends can't get out all book because of high war and let's put something else in there a scene in which name of allies are deceived by magical occupation that's interesting what did we have for patience at the livery person so let's say they are deceived by delivery person who had promised to help them and then maybe they're imprisoned and they have to get out in some way and then finally the defeat so the defeat is is really the jaws of defeat it's not where the story ends because it ends in the resolution this is historic this is the state sorry between the shift and the power so this is where the character makes a loss or a sacrifice and the sacrifice the word sounds sounds bad but actually it's something that is necessary for them to let go of in order for them to be able to become the person that they are in the resolution and sometimes it can be a very painful sacrifice but it is absolutely necessary and the defeat is only temporary that's what's important to remember so what can happen a scene in which object is discovered to be devoid of magic or to have lost its magic that's an interesting one so maybe they bring back the pen but it doesn't work so charlie brings back pen but it loses its magic what else a scene in which the magical object is used against name and allies a scene in which name and allies lose the magical war or battle as in which the prophecy is revealed to be false what else can we have what was the loss and sacrifice here their best memory so what could their best memory be what could Charlie's best memory be hmm maybe it's something to do with his relationship to Georgiana because maybe maybe they became friends so maybe he finds out that that was a lie somehow so he's gonna say see finds out that time Georgiana was not what it seemed and maybe the the pen somehow reveals that to him I don't know that's the story but so yeah that is our eight stages completed so now we can put all of this together into the story order and the way we do that is fold our paper in half like so and then we grab our scissors and we are going to cut from here all the way down to the center of the page along the line like that and then unfold that and what you want to make sure is that you have the resolution stasis trigger and quest up at the top and you're going to push the center of the page out like that so you form a little peak and then you're going to fold this flap the top flap to of the right the bottom flap to the left I'll post it and then flip the bottom half underneath like so and then finally we're going to fold the left side back behind like so so you have the status at the front and just press it down nicely and there you have your one page novel and now it's in story order so you have the stasis and then the trigger and the quest then the bolt the shift the defeat the power and the resolution so I hope that's shown you how you can really simply outline or plot or plan your novel or your story whether it's for NaNoWriMo or beyond you don't have to be too specific you don't have to be too detailed you don't have to complicate matters too much even a simple rough idea of the scenes that you need to write in each stage can give you a lot of direction with your story if you're stuck at any point be sure to refer back to this video be sure to think about what stage your character is in at whatever scene you're writing and I think that will really help you move through the development of the story I think it's really helpful to have a kind of big picture it's helpful to have an idea of where you begin and where you end but even if you don't go into too much detail even if you want to be a panther or a plotter or whatever you want to call it I really think that there are plenty of plenty of discovery still to be made in your story even if you do have you know a rough outline that you're working from and if you do want more help with this I have a full course on the subject that you can enroll in and you can listen to the audio of me guiding you through the process as you fill in all the details so be sure to check that out I'll leave links below again I really hope you found this helpful good luck with NaNoWriMo be sure to share this with your friends if you think that it will benefit them and I will see you in the next right along happy writing

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

  1. I wish you could see the face I made when the booklet came together. lol. Thank you so much. This, just like all of your other writing resources, has been so helpful!!

  2. Awesome. Thank you so much. Fantastic idea. Better than stickies Allll over my wall…..well I'll still have stickies on my walls hahah

  3. Not to be shallow–but where did you get those gorgeous floral accessories? Okay, very shallow! LOL

  4. Seems like an awesome system! Wish there was a way to access the generator and some of the other resources. Even if there was a way looks like I couldn't afford it. Maybe I can figure out a way to do the same thing my own way.

  5. Very helpful, thank you! I just need to adapt it a little bit since I'm writing a tragic book (thriller) and what I wrote down for "power" suddenly doesn't go well with the plot at all. There's no chance for my protagonist to change or complete the quest (power) and she's going to be defeated. Once I cut and folded my piece of paper, everything was clear. Now I need to wrap my head around this a little bit more but that's a good starting point. Thanks for your effort and the video!

  6. Anyway you could make the genre specific templates available for download? I'm the president of the creative writing club at my school and I think it would be wonderful to be able to hand out these sheets.

  7. Hi, I loved the video, and your method, so I immediate joined the Coterie, but I'm having trouble finding the Genre cheat sheets there. D: Could I ask for a hand?

  8. Hi! I can't afford to enroll in the course right now, but I wouldn't mind purchasing a genre cheat sheet. Are they for sale individually? Also what about the plot generator?

  9. You're so creative in the way you physically plot and even made a little booklet out of it. Just mind blown. Thank you for this.

  10. This was so long BUT i am so glad you did it. You gave me so many ideas and leads for resources. The end was like magic when you had an actual book of the plot. Brilliant. I am doing NANO this as well but after will sign up for your course. Thank you

  11. Thank you. This really helped me give my story more structure and actually plan it out properly. This will be my first NaNoWriMo and I was scared I would get stuck pretty early because I wouldn't know what to write or how to continue the story, this will surely help and hopefully keep me on track. I'll definitely use this method for future novels too.

  12. This sounds like an amazing story! If you're so inclined, please publish it when it's written and edited and all that jazz, because I'd love to read it!

  13. I followed along with you, and made progress in my story as I went! Awesome! Thank you so much for posting this!

  14. You always put out the most useful tools for writing (and the prettiest)! Thanks for all that you do to share your knowledge!!

  15. I loved this video! I've always struggled with plotting, but this method will make it so much easier for me in the future.

  16. This was so helpful, although it would've helped me so much if this was geared for a romance. I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year as well.

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