This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while and finally got around to doing today. (Procrastination yay?) A few months ago I found or was linked to a plot outline template, intended to help the writer figure out the plot beats for stories that require specific word counts, such as most anthology submissions. I’ve been using it as a plotting tool since then, and found it very helpful — so helpful that I’ve created my Scrivener files according to the beats for my past couple stories.
Today I made the files into templates, so that I can use them again without having to reinvent the wheel each time I start a new story. I thought they might be helpful to other people too, so they’re in zip files and stored in my Dropbox.
Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the original post, where I got the outline from in the first place. I thought it might be Rachel Aaron’s Pretentious Title, but I’m unable to find the entry if it is. I don’t claim to have invented this outline, just created the templates that use it. The outline itself is a very simple version of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which is a good plotting tool, too.
The basic outline is this:
1. current situation, 10%
2. change of plans, 15%
3. work toward goal, things go well, 25%
4. things go awry, 25%
5. final push/climax/reaches goal, 20%
6. wrap up loose ends/denouement, 5%
You take your total allotted word count (say, 10,000 words for easiness’s sake), and figure your beats accordingly:
1. current situation, 10% – 1000 words
2. change of plans, 15% – 1500 words
3. work toward goal, things go well, 25% – 2500 words
4. things go awry, 25% – 2500 words
5. final push/climax/reaches goal, 20% – 2000 words
6. wrap up loose ends/denouement, 5% – 500 words
Confession: I have yet to make this work perfectly–I don’t have any denouement scenes that are exactly 500 words–but it’s proved very helpful in any case, since keeping within a defined word count has been a struggle for me. I have yet to use it for a novel, too, but I have the rough draft of the next one all set up using this template, waiting its turn.
Download the long-form works template or the short-form works at Dropbox.
A few notes:
* The label colors are all pastels, my favorite colors. Feel free to change that as you see fit.
* Feel free to add character sheets and other notes as you see fit, too. I don’t have any preferred forms so I just left them out.
* In the long form template, there are no scene files in the chapter folders. I don’t want to dictate that — you just add what you need.
* These files were created on a Windows PC. I assume they will work with Windows and Mac version of Scrivener.
* If you need instructions on using templates, please visit the Scrivener forums or tutorials.