Novel Writing Tips & Worksheets


Some writers prefer to write without a structure, letting their characters show them where to go. Others, myself included, need to structure their ideas, characters, plotlines and other devices use to tell the story.

Over the last few years I have been teaching myself to plan my writing because I've found that it's the only way I can work productively - it also helps me to remember things!

The most important thing to remember is that you can only write in a way that is natural for you. Don't let other writers tell you how it should be done because if you try to write in a way that comes natually to them, you'll never finish your novel! 

The following worksheet has been adapted from


Set an alarm or timer for 15 minutes and jot down the first ideas that come to your mind, no matter how ridiculous or boring they seem. This is just a rough outline, you can develop your initial ideas later.

At the start of your book, what distinguishes your protagonist from other people? What central strength does he/she have? How does this strength get him/her into trouble?

Distinguishing quality:

When the novel opens, what is s/he on the brink of doing? Why does he/she say she's going to do this? What does this action represent for the protagonist?

What external situation will require the protagonist's participation throughout the course of the book? How does this connect with #2? Does it help or interfere? Can you build in a deadline for extra tension

What is the protagonist's goal for the time the book covers? How does this connect with the external situation? Or does the external situation divert the protagonist from his/her goal? Why does the protagonist SAY he/she wants the goal? Is there a deeper motivation as yet unknown to him/her?

What problem (external conflict) does the external situation present? How can the protagonist eventually resolve that conflict?

List at least three obstacles in the way of him resolving this conflict. Make one an internal obstacle/conflict.


List three possible ways he/she can overcome these obstacles.


How will the protagonist grow because of confronting these obstacles?

What do you want to happen at the end of the book?  

What will have to happen to the protagonist against his/her will to make your ending come about?

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