Monday, October 26, 2015

Questions to Ask about your Story: A Master List




Everyone has different ways of plotting novels. I have been writing for so long that I can definitely tell the difference between plotting and not in my stories.

Even for those who like to wing everything, sometimes it's just helpful to know about your characters and some stuff about your plot.

And so, tonight, I spent a long time going through various stacks of worksheets I have scattered throughout my room, and compiled a master packet of questions to ask about characters and plot for my story ideas. 

Let's get right to it! Below, are a long list of questions that you are free to copy and use. Hope they prove useful!

(All of them are from various online sources and books and forums. For more help I 10/10 recommend Go Teen Writers by Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morill, and also How To Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke)



Contents:
Plot (premises, various types of outlines
Character (Assorted character worksheets)
Overview (Final questions)



Plot:


Title or Working Title:
Genre:

Premise
Two Unrelated Things:
“What if?” Question:
Theme:
Atmosphere:
Concepts:
What would this story be like if it switched genres?
What side character can really come out and shine?
Where will this story most likely end?
STORY GOAL:

Brief Plot Outline:
Opening:
Plot Point 1:
Plot Point 2:
Plot Point 3:
Disaster:
Climax:
At a glance Outline:
ACT I
Sum up what happens:
Setup:
Where each character is at the start:
Atmosphere and how it’s created:
What does the character want at the start:
Hook/inciting incident:
How the character embraces the story goal:
The first turning point:
What is at stake?
Protagonist introduction:
Antagonist introduction:
Supporting characters:
Setting:
Props:
Time period:
Details to Remember:
First sentence ideas:

ACT II
Briefly describe first half of Act II
Atmosphere and how it’s created:
How the problem intensifies:
Temporary triumph, is it inner or external:
Foreshadowing:
Subplots:
Main setting:
Other settings:
Props:
Any new characters:
Why are they needed?
Things to remember:
Briefly describe second half of Act II
Atmosphere and how it’s created:
How will you create/show the reversal?
Second turning point:
How it sets up for Climax of Act III
How characters decisions effects this

ACT III
Briefly describe events:
Describe the final obstacle:
Atmosphere and how it’s created:
Describe the climax:
Describe the FINAL BATTLE simply:
Subplots and how they are resolved:
Note any loose ends:
Describe how the theme is shown:
Last Sentence Ideas:
How has each character changed?


Character Novel Outline:
Character name:
Scene to reveal appearance
Scene to reveal quirks
Scene to reveal character lesson:
Scene to reveal skills/weaknesses:
Scene to reveal real motivation:
Scene the reveal trauma and/or fear:
(Repeat for each character)

Brief Outline:
Beginning:
Hook:
Climax Act I:
Beginning of Act II:
Problem:
Transition scene:
Problem:
Transitions scenes:
Midpoint Twist:
Transition scenes:
Problem:
Transition scenes:
Disaster:
Crisis:
Transition scenes:
Climax of Act II:
Transition scenes:
Beginning of Act II:
Transition scenes:
Climax of Act III:
Denouement:
End:

Scene by Scene Outline
Scene Overview:
Atmosphere:
Information learned:
Purpose:
Question:
(Repeat for each scene)

Chapter by Chapter Outline
Chapter overview:
Chapter Purpose:
New characters or Info:
Defining Scene of chapter:
Driving emotion:
Development:
(Repeat for each chapter)


Characters

Full cast:
Character Summaries
Protagonist:
Internal motivation:
External Motivation:
What do they want?
What is in their way?

Antagonist:
Internal motivation:
External Motivation
What do they want?
What is in their way?

How the motivations of the Hero and Villain clash:

Villain:
Age:
Appearance:
Why they are who they are:
Backstory:
Negative Ideal:
Main personality traits:
Motivation:
Goal:
What is seems like they want:
What they really want:
Relationship with hero:
Nasty things they do:
Has their trust been betrayed? How?
What makes them angry?
What do they feel like they need?
What do they actually need?
Do they respect themselves?
What do they have in common with the MC?
What makes this villain a hard villain to beat?
Weapons?
Is there a point where the villain would give up?
What makes them memorable?
Regrets?
What were they like as a child?
How is your hero wrong about them?
What twisted way of thinking do they have, if any?
How might we actually care about or love to hate this villain?



Quick Questions: (For each character)
Name/Nickname:
Character role:
Birth date:
Personality type:
Look:
Style:
Gestures:
Age:
Build/Height/Weight:
Race:
Eye color/Hair Color and style/Skin tone:
Family:
Childhood:
Friends:
Romantic:
Lived in:
Occupation:
Best qualities:
Worst faults:
Positive Ideal:
Motivation:
Secret:
Fear:
Defining memories:
Favorites:
Hates:
Favorite places:
Internal conflicts:
If this was a movie, what actor/actress would play this character?
Book/movie character similar to this character:

Finish the sentence in characters voice:
Work is
I sleep
My mother
Eating
No one
My Greatest Flaw
I love
Fighting is
My father is
My biggest secret
Traveling
I am most proud
I am happiest
My enemy
My worst fear
I am haunted by
Love is
I dream
I am waiting
Morning brings
My days are

Romance plots:
Characters:
Words to describe their relationship:
How they get together:
What could get in their way?
What do they stand to lose?
How would they live together?
Who would decorate the house?
Who would kill the spiders?
How would their lives go?
Would they have kids?
What kind of parent would each of them be?
How do their friends react to them?

In Depth Character Worksheet
Full Name:
Reason or meaning of name:
Nicknames:
Birthday:
Age:
How old she/he appears:
Height:
Body build:
Ethnicity:
Shape of face:
Eyes:
Skin:
Hair color/style:
Voice:
Usual dress:
Favorite outfit:
Jewelry or trademarks:
Personality:
Good personality traits
Bad personality traits:
Positive Ideal:
Mood character is often in
Sense of humor:
Greatest joy:
Greatest fear:
What event would ruin life:
Most at ease when:
Most anxious when:
Enraged when:
Depressed or sad when:
Priorities:
If granted one wish:
Soft spot:
Greatest strength
Greatest vulnerability:
Biggest regret:
Biggest accomplishment:
Would be embarrassed by:
Darkest secret, does anyone know it?:
Motivation:
Long term goals:
Life:
Hometown:
Type of childhood:
First memory:
Childhood hero:
Dream job:
Education:
Current location/living with:
Pets:
Occupation:
Events of the past:
Family relationships:
Mother
Father
Siblings
Favorites:
Color
Least favorite color:
Food:
Least favorite food:
Literature:
Form of entertainment:
Expressions:
Mode of transportation:
Most prized possession:
Habits/traits:
Hobbies:
Would spend a rainy day doing:
Own too much:
Owns too little:
Talents:
Really bad at:
Nervous tics:
Usual body posture:
Mannerisms:
Other quirks:
Optimist or pessimist?
Introvert or Extrovert
Daredevil or cautious?
Logical or emotional?
Disorderly/messy or methodical/neat?
Working or relaxing?
Confident or insecure?
Animal lover?
Beliefs:
Would describe self as:
Considers best trait:
Considers worst trait:
Would like to change:
Relationships:
General opinion of people:
Share or hide opinions:
Person he/she most hates:
Best friend(s):
Love interest(s):
Goes to advice:
Feels responsible over:
Feels awkward around:
Admires:
Other:
What movies might this character watch?
What music might this character listen to?
What stars might this character know of?
What is this characters favorite outfit?
What make them laugh out loud?
What is on their bedroom floor?
Describe this character if they were historical, or if they are historical, describe them if they were modern:


Overview
What do you want to accomplish with this novel?
What part of YOU is in this story?

Rant and ramble about why you love this story (You will need this when you get bogged down)




Happy Writing!


7 comments:

  1. I actually printed this out and am filling it out for my nanowrimo:)
    Yes, I know it starts in five days. What can I say? I'm the worlds most optimistic procrastinator;P

    ReplyDelete
  2. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU I really needed this...I am SUCH a procrastinator and terrible at outlining...I've always just written as it comes, which is probably why I never finish anything...gonna print this out today, and work on it over the week and on Friday with Abby :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow this is so great! :) :)
    Amanda
    SKGfun.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great list! If I'm feeling overly ambitious between now and Sunday (oh wait, that's less than two days...), I'll take a crack at it. I should be far better prepared than I am...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, Mariesa. This will be helpful.

    ReplyDelete