Editing is such a long and painful process that anything that makes it more bearable is very welcome to me! I designed this checklist to help you break down the steps of polishing your manuscript mess, or if you wish, to send to beta readers to give them some ideas of what to look out for. It’s particularly helpful if you keep a running list of words / phrases that you frequently misuse, misspell or repeat, so that you can refer back to them each time you start the final edits of a manuscript. Good luck!
P.S. You can use the dialogue worksheet for a more detailed audit of your characters’ conversations.
You can find a ZIP of all of the writing worksheets to date in the Coterie.
We’ve brainstormed point of view before, but once you’ve chosen your viewpoint, there are still many more decisions to make as to your narrator, and your narrator’s voice. Whether your narrator is a character in the story, or a version of your authorial self, it helps to make these decisions with purpose. Hopefully this worksheet will help you do just that!
P.S. You may also find it useful to consider your readership and what sort of narrator would best suit their needs.
You can find a ZIP of all of the writing worksheets to date in the Coterie.
For some time after watching the BBC adaptation of North & South I wanted to date an industrialist. Faced with the dearth of hard-working, well-dressed, 21st century cotton mill owners, I wrote this steampunk short story. I hope you enjoy it!
The Steampunk Club is a short story (≈ 18,000 words) about a secret steampunk society that meets in an old mill in London. Vicky Hale is urged to take on the job of typesetting the Club’s magazine, even though she thinks that dressing up in bits of machinery is a silly way to spend an evening. While she struggles with the printing deadline, and the Club is faced with a sinister blackmailer bent on exposing their secrets, Sir Aubrey – mechanic, inventor, gentleman – seems to be on a quest to change Vicky’s mind.
A few readers have expressed interest in a sequel. Nothing would delight me more than to write one, but I have to prioritise stories, so I’ve set up a mailing list for those of you who wish to read a second Steampunk Club story. You can sign up here, and I will start working on it when I reach 100 subscribers! :)
the life of a writer is always a strange mix of real and retold stories, and it is not worth the effort to tell the difference between the two.
i have been reading the life of stratford canning, british diplomat to the ottoman empire during the napoleonic wars and after. i love his style of letter-writing & his delight at treading the same ground as his mythical and literary heroes. i’ve often felt the same, though only able to tenuously reconstruct those threads of ancient literature from translations and then ill-equipped to understand them. tenebrous tenedos.
i mark the days with post-it notes on my calendar, but little else changes.i stroll to the library in the morning, stopping to admire the hedgeroses and feel grateful for a quiet life. i accompanied my mum to a doctor’s appointment the other day and ogled the doctor’s fountain pen, a TWSBI, i think, filled with – i caught a glimpse of the bottle top – montblanc midnight blue.
i feel like i’m wilting, even though we get torrential rains every day; the days are dark and the evenings too short. i’ve been toying with the idea of writing a dark romance with a byronic heroine. what would that involve? a sort of reverse jane eyre? a woman with a shady past, an obsessive personality, an unpredictable temperament, and questionable morals who falls in love with a meek young man but eventually decides that she is better off living alone (except for her demons) in the countryside. i’m fairly certain that’s how it would end.
the moist air is redolent with wild alive olive. when i was at school and in love with the romantics, i would sometimes slip a few silver leaves into my letters to friends, to crown their girlish achievements. i’m afraid that as we grow, we lose those early coups de foudre for the literary ground we treat tread on, and worry too much that we are being precious, pretentious, or pernicious. our inner critic tells us we must mature as a writer, control and direct our dictional delights. But wild, uncultivated strains still shoot up.
Here are a couple of free blank novel templates I’ve developed to use with the One Page Novel Plot Formula. The first one is a Google Docs spreadsheet, and the second is for Scrivener. I hope you find them useful!
New: I’ve added some headers that can be used in Google Keep!
Scene Writing Spreadsheet
View in Google Docs Please note, you don’t need to request access to this document. Go to ‘File > Download as…’ to download the spreadsheet, or ‘File > Make a Copy…’ to copy it to your Google Drive.
While I love the tactile three-dimensionality of the One Page Novel format, eventually it’s necessary to transfer your outline from paper to computer. For those of you who prefer a more linear approach to plotting, the spreadsheet allows you to enter a short description of each scene, and update their word counts as you write.
The sections are in story order. The numbers before the name of each stage represent the plotting order (so, the Resolution comes first, then the Stasis, etc.)
I’ve included a short summary of each stage to jog your memory, and some sample scenes to get you started.
The spreadsheet has a few extra columns that allow you to plot for multiple main characters side by side, so that you can see when each one hits a particular stage.
If you’re switching between different POVs, you might want to add another column to track which character is assigned to which scene.
If you fill in the time/date column, you will have a useful overview of your timeline.
I’ve entered sample scene word counts for NaNoWriMo (to total 50,000), to give you some idea of how the spreadsheet works, but you can update the scene word counts as you go and the totals will be calculated automatically.
The One Page Novel Scrivener Template (ZIP) To use the template unzip it, then go to ‘File > New’. In the dialog, click ‘Options > Import templates…’. Browse to template file and add it. The template should be available in the ‘Fiction’ section whenever you need it.
Scrivener is one of my favourite apps ever, and if you use it for your writing, I would recommend that you download this Scrivener template. It includes all of the same information as the spreadsheet, with the advantage that you won’t have to update the word counts manually! Once again I’ve used the NaNoWriMo 50K for the total, but please update as your story requires.
The outliner view gives you a good overview of your scene and stage word counts, while the corkboard view allows you to quickly look through your scene descriptions. You can turn on synopses in the outliner too, but I find it a bit cluttered.
You can choose to set up the stages in separate folders, or, if you want to set up your own folder hierarchy, use the label colours to assign each scene to a stage.
I haven’t set up meta-data fields for different characters or subplots, but you can easily add them yourself, and then view them as columns in the outliner.
I’ve also included four of my writing worksheets that I find particularly helpful with plotting. You will find them in the ‘worksheets’ folder.
If you need to learn how to use Scrivener for outlining, writing, editing or even blogging, this is the best course on the subject.
Google Keep is a simple app for managing lists. If you frequently use Google Docs, it can be helpful to set up a label with a note for each One Page Novel stage, with scene ideas that you can refer to as you write.
Download and unzip the header images.
Go to Google Keep and create a new label. You might want to name it something like “One Page Novel” or “scene ideas”.
Add a new note.(Note: if you want the sections to appear in story order, you may want to add them in reverse (i.e. Resolution, Power, Defeat, Shift, Bolt, Quest, Trigger, Stasis).
Click the “Add Image” icon and navigate to the header image you want.
Write your scene ideas or synopses in the note for each stage. You can see the templates above for examples, and if you’re enrolled in The One Page Novel Course, you can find many more scene ideas in the Genre Cheatsheets.
I recommend clicking on the “three dots” icon for each note and selecting “Show Checkboxes”.
Open a new or existing document in Google Docs.
Go to Tools > Keep Notepad. You should now see your Google Keep notes in the Google Docs sidebar. If you want to see only your scene ideas, click the magnifying glass icon at the top of the sidebar and enter the label name you chose.
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