During the epic plotting video where Amy Laurens and I fixed her Very Broken Novel™ I showed you the beat sheet I made Amy fill out before we replotted her book. This isn’t a full outline, but it’s what I consider the basics you need to know before writing a book (or editing it if you forgot this step in the beginning). Even if you’re pantsing a novel, you need to have some idea of what you want the final form of the book to look like.
And then, after the video was posted, I realized it would be super helpful if you had the beat sheet available so you could copy/paste to your computer and use it for yourself. So, here’s my plotting and editing beat sheet just in time for NaNoWriMo.
Protagonist: This is your main character and the person whose choices influence the book the most.
Goal 1: Want does the character want in the opening sentence?
Antagonist 1: The Page 1 trouble maker who is preventing the protagonist from getting what they want.
Antagonist 2: The person the protagonist thinks is the evil villain of the piece.
Antagonist 3: The Big Bad Boss at the end who is pulling the strings all along.
Ticking Time Bomb: A time limit that means the protagonist can’t ignore the plot for 60 years. The time will suddenly shorten in the middle of the book.
Opening Scene: What happens on pages 1-5?
Twist 1 (25%): The protagonist realizes things aren’t what they seem.
Twist 2 (50%): The protagonist loses something/the ticking time bomb speeds up/a new player arrives
Twist 3 (75%): The protagonist takes a major loss and their goals seem impossible.
Climax/Big Battle: The protagonist fights against all odds.
End Scene: Emotional conclusion that leaves the readers satisfied.
Twist 4: On the last page make the reader see the book in a brand new way.
Emotional Statement of the Book: Every book is a thesis on something you believe, this is your thesis statement. Examples: The love of friends is stronger than the love of lovers. Good defeats evil. Crime doesn’t pay. Ordinary people can be amazing heroes.
Thematic Concepts (themes): Tied to the emotional statement of the book, what concepts are you exploring? Your thematic concepts will probably be similar throughout your body of work.
Visual Concepts: Colors, shapes, or images that repeat throughout the book. You can highlight how a person or thing doesn’t belong by giving them something outside this set of imagery.