How I Organize My Novel

5:00:00 PM


As you know, I've started writing a series about writing my novel! I've previously written two posts in the series and you can find them below:


Today, I'll be writing about the way I organize my novel. Originally I was just writing little tidbits of information on my phone and varies notebooks around the house. It wasn't until I went Pinterest crazy that I came up with a better strategy for organizing my notes. This hasn't completely eliminated my use of notebooks, but it has made writing my novel way easier than I thought it was going to be. 

After doing a ton of research, I found a video titled, "Screenplay Structure: The Five Plot Points."
It helped me figure out exactly what my novel needed and how to organize it. I definitely recommend watching it if you're planning a novel or screenplay. 

I had never thought of books having Acts, but I see it now. I had a lot to learn when I first decided to write a book. I honestly didn't have any clue where to start. I definitely wouldn't call myself a professional, but I'm excited to share what I've learned so far.

Just to be clear, not all authors follow the same method, but this is how I organize my novel. It took a while to complete, but it has made writing the first draft of my novel so much easier. 

My novel is broken down as follows:
  • There are four acts (technically three, but you'll see what I mean)
  • Each act has two sequences.
  • Each sequence has three to five chapters. 
  • Each chapter has three or more scenes. 
I've also made sure to include the plot points that I learned from the video and various worksheets:
  • Inciting incident
  • Lock -in
  • 1st obstacle
  • 1st culmination
  • Subplot obstacle
  • Main culmination
  • Third act twist
  • Resolution
Originally I didn't plan on having that many obstacles or plot points, but I think that they have improved my story. The video I mentioned earlier does a great job of explaining what each of the plot points are. There are also a ton of worksheets all over the Internet, especially Pinterest. 

My next post for this blog series will dive further into each plot point mentioned above. I will also be providing a free worksheet, so stay tuned!


Now for my actual plot board! If you are interested in making one, you will want to get the following materials:
  • 1 trifold display board
  • 1 ruler or yard stick
  • 1 pen or pencil
  • 1 permanent marker
  • Sticky notes

1. Open up your trifold board and draw a line in both of the creases.

2. Next, draw a line directly in the center of the board. To do this, I closed one of the flaps and traced along the edge with a permanent marker. 

3. The last line you will make is a horizontal line running through the center of the board. This will divide the board into eight sections. 


4. You will then label the top of the board with: Act I, Act II-1, Act II-2, and Act III.

5. Next you will label your sequences. Act I consists of Sequences one and two. Act II-1 consists of Sequences three and four. Act II-2 consists of Sequences five and six. Act III consists of Sequences seven and eight. 

6. This part is optional, as not everyone organizes their plot points the way that I do. Sequence one includes the inciting incident. Sequence two includes the lock-in. Sequence three includes the first obstacle. Sequence four includes the first culmination. Sequence five includes the subplot obstacle. Sequence six includes the main culmination. Sequence seven includes the third act twist and Sequence eight includes the resolution. 


7. Lastly, you will fill your plot board with sticky notes! I just threw a few on there to show the idea. 

When you're using your plot board, you can use sticky notes for whatever you want. I like them because you can move them around or throw them away when necessary. I use one sticky note per chapter and outline the scenes or main events within that chapter on the same sticky note. I also use one sticky note to describe each plot point at the bottom of the sequences. 

My plot board only took a few hours to put together. I ended up with 31 chapters spread out over all three Acts. I really wanted to post a picture of my finished board, but then you guys would know all the big events in my novel! 

I really hope that you are all enjoying this series! I've wanted to write a book for so long and my dream is finally coming true! I hope that this series helps each of the other authors that read my blog and maybe even encourage a few others to begin writing too!

If you're an author, how do you plot your novels? Let me know in the comments!

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