The One Page Novel Story Structure

The One Page Novel is a storytelling framework that shows you the big picture.

As unlikely as it may sound, you really can condense and organise the plot of an entire novel on one sheet of paper.

It was this simplification that helped me finish writing a novel for the very first time, and it can help you too!

If you…

  1. Don’t know where to start.
  2. Have trouble finishing stories you begin.
  3. Are feeling discouraged by flat or unconvincing characters.
  4. Can’t find a way to tie up loose ends.

… then I think you’ll LOVE the One Page Novel!

The One Page Novel in a Nutshell

The One Page Novel…

  1. Requires just one sheet of paper,
  2. folded into 8 sections.
  3. Each section represents a story stage.
  4. Each story stage serves a specific function in the development of the character and their story.
  5. For each stage, we brainstorm 3-4 plot points that fulfil the stage requirements.
  6. The horizontal fold represents the Threshold of Adventure.
  7. Stages above the Threshold fold take place in the Ordinary World,
  8. those below, take place in the World of Adventure.
  9. The plot points above the fold are written the RIGHT WAY UP, but the ones below the fold are written UPSIDE DOWN, to remind you of the change in point of view.
  10. We plot the stages OUT of reading order.
  11. We fold the One Page Novel into a booklet to bring the stages INTO reading order. (This is a really cool technique. Be sure to watch the video below to the end, to see how it’s done!)

The Hero's Journey & the One Page Novel

There are many more nuances to the method that are covered in the full course, but those are the basics.

The 8 Stages of The One Page Novel

The One Page Novel divides stories into 8 stages:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. Quest
  4. Bolt
  5. Shift
  6. Defeat
  7. Power
  8. Resolution

Each stage is a section of the character arc that fulfils a specific purpose. If you’re familiar with the Hero’s Journey (or the Fool’s Journey), you’ll have no trouble recognising the archetypal story inherent in the One Page Novel.

Story Circle Diagram

The names of the stages can help you remember the requirements of each stage:

  1. Stasis – the character is in a state of inactivity or stagnation.
  2. Trigger – an internal or external impulse triggers the character into action.
  3. Quest – the character goes in quest of something.
  4. Bolt – a bolt from the blue throws the character off their quest.
  5. Shift – the character experiences a paradigm shift, or a shift in perspective.
  6. Defeat – the character faces a defeat that tests their resilience.
  7. Power – the character taps into their inner power.
  8. Resolution – the character returns home, changed.

This is the order in which you’ll encounter the stages when you’re reading your story.

However, this isn’t the order we follow when we’re structuring our plot.

Plotting Out of Reading Order

Reading order or story order is the order in which the scenes in the 8 stages  will appear in the final story.

But I recommend the following order to brainstorm plot points or scene ideas for the 8 stages of your story:

  1. Resolution
  2. Stasis
  3. Shift
  4. Trigger
  5. Quest
  6. Power
  7. Bolt
  8. Defeat

Story Plot Diagram

Plotting out of story order has several benefits. It helps you…

  • Understand the connections between the story stages.
  • Build a solid narrative framework.
  • Think through plot tangles at a higher level.
  • See plot patterns that help you draft scenes faster & easier.

When to Use the One Page Novel Method?

You can use this story structure at any point in the writing process, whether you’re feeling out a story idea, plotting, drafting, editing, or promoting.

The One Page Novel works for stories of any length, from flash fiction to short stories, novellas, novels, and series. It can be applied to any genre that involves character change, and to subplots that bring in genre elements, such as mystery, romance or coming of age.

A one page novel can also be a useful overview to share with beta readers, and editors.

Because of its simplicity, you can even use this method to plot collaboratively, so you’re all on the same page!

What Does it Look Like?

Here are a few examples of handwritten one page novels…

Story Grid

Writing Plot Table

Writing & Tea

Plot Grid

Using sticky notes is a great way to feel out plot points or scene ideas.

Bullet Journal for Writers
You can keep a permanent plot grid in your bullet journal or writing journal.

 

One Page Novel Workshop

This video workshop walks you through the process of creating a plot using the One Page Novel story structure.

Grab a sheet of paper and see where it takes you!

Story Structure Diagram

One Page Novel Resources

  1. Novel Outline & Training – this free novel outline and training shows you how to turn your one page novel into a detailed story outline.
  2. Templates – download free novel templates for Scrivener, Google Sheets, and Google Keep to begin writing your story using the One Page Novel method.
  3. The One Page Novel Workbook – free for Coterie members, this workbook contains useful printable cheatsheets and templates.
  4. The genre cheatsheets and plot generator are available exclusively in the One Page Novel Online Course. Please consider enrolling if you’d like to access ALL of the bonus materials!

About the Online Course

I offer an online course on the One Page Novel method that goes into more depth, and offers heaps of valuable supporting material, such as cheatsheets, worksheets, and templates.

The course is designed to minimise the time you spend learning, and maximise the time you spend working on your writing.

As such, it comprises:

  1. Audio/video lessons that allow you to plot as you listen.
  2. A comprehensive PDF textbook that offers guidance when you need it.
  3. Cheatsheets that give you ready-made scene ideas for every major genre.
  4. Fill-in-the-blanks worksheets that lead you through the stages, line by line.
  5. A plot generator that brainstorms your story elements in one click.

The source is self-paced. You can start whenever you want, and you have lifetime access.

Story Structure Diagram
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HOW TO PLOT on one page
The Power of Plot Formulas
Writing Worksheet Index
How to Write a Novella
How to improve your writing
Story & Scene Idea Treasury
One Page Stories - Flash Fiction Inspiration
LITERARY wanderings
Writing Articles - Index
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Lady Writer

I write about literature, language, love, and living off your pen. Also, fortifying fiction, personal amelioration, and tea.

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Structure your story on one page.

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Build a framework for stronger characters.

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Construct a model of your story world.

Your plot, your character & your story world... on ONE PAGE.

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