Pantsy Plotter and the Templates of Story-Telling

Some people fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to writing a novel. They just sit down and write, and hope for the best while they have a vague idea of what they want to write in their heads. These people are known as “Pantsers”.

In the other corner we have a group of writers we like to call “Plotters”. They plan chapter by chapter, outline their stories, research detailed descriptions, find photos or draw pictures of what their characters look like. The featured image above is JK Rowling’s outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by the way.

I’m probably a mix of the two. I like just writing and letting the story come to me, but I also have a notebook in which I keep pictures of houses, people and other noteworthy things (like uniforms, rank insignia and the like – The Bravery of the Soldier does feature the British Army and Royal Army Medical Corps after all).

I could therefore be considered a Plotting Pantser, or a Pantsy Plotter, if you like.

Nowl, NaNoWriMo, story, outline, template, plot, ideas,
Plotting your story over a cup of coffee. Photo: Lenore Tucker-Macleod

Now, of course you don’t have to use any templates. If a notebook or loose paper collection suffices for you, then that’s great. But some of us need a bit more structure, which is where Story and Novel Writing Templates come in.


Ready, Set, Novel! – Chris Baty & Tavia Stewart-Streit

Ready, Set, Novel!, Chris Baty, NaNoWriMo, Templates, novel, writing, characters, plot, story, setting, outline
Ready, Set, Novel! Writer’s Workbook by Chris Baty (NaNoWriMo)

Chris Baty (the founder of NaNoWriMo), Lindsey Grant (NaNoWriMo Program Director) and Tavia Stewart-Streit (NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program Director) produced a whole Novelling Workbook, full of character templates, exercises to help you come up with plot, lists, graphs, plot maps and more.

Autographed copies available for $16.95 from the NaNoWriMo Store, or unautographed from Amazon and other retailers.

Novel Writing Templates V1.0asmallbirdorganizes

This pack of Novel Writing Templates consists of 4 work sheets, all with a different focus.

The Basic Template gives you an overview of your story. Here you can make note of your main characters, the setting, POV (that’s “Point of View” for all not in the Know), Genre, whether you want it as a stand-alone or series, whether it’s complete or a cliff-hanger and the basic plot points.

The Character Template gives you space for 4 main characters and 3 secondary characters and lets you note whose POV you use. Here you can note whether your characters are protagonists, antagonists, good/helpful/bad/hinderance, their description, background and motivation. You even have space for passport-size pictures, so you don’t forget what they should look like.

The Plot Template allows you to note your main plot points you want to work into your story as well as the background you assume. You can write down your setting and whether it’s fictional or not, the genre you’re writing in and what conclusion you are working towards (and whether it continues in another book).

The Setting Template allows you to go into more detail on locations. What do your indoor locations look like? What do your outdoor locations look like?  What city/country/planet does the story take place in/on? Is your timeline historically correct or fictional? Is it set in the past, present day or post-apocalyptic future?

I like these templates and use them myself, because they are so compact.

Novel Writing Templates V1.0 pack costs $5 / £3.19 / € 4.04 and it’s downloadable from Etsy.

Novel Writing Templates V2.0 – asmallbirdorganizes

This is the new and updated version of the 2012 template pack above. V2.0 still features a Basic Template, Character Template, Plot Template and Setting Template,  but it’s now spaced out differently and has added colour.

These templates don’t feel so packed and tight on the page, and the colour lets you tell them apart easily.

Novel Writing Template V2.0 pack  costs $5 / £3.19 / € 4.04 and it’s downloadable as zip.-files from Etsy.


Novel Writing Template V2.0 Expansion Pack – asmallbirdorganizes

For those who think that the template packs above are not fulfilling all their Novel Plotting needs, asmallbirdorganizes has made an expansion pack with 3 additional worksheets.

The Characters Template allows you to flesh out your characters a bit more.

The Secondary Characters Template lets you go into more detail on your secondary and tertiary characters who make appearances and are important to the story.

The Notes Template is just that: a page for extra notes, be it on the plot, characters or setting.

The Novel Writing Template V2.0 Expansion Pack costs $2.50 / £1.60 / € 2.02 and can be downloaded from Etsy.

Free Templates

There are a host of free templates and worksheet available as well, like those by Angie Neugebauer – The Organized Writer or Creative Writing Now.




6 thoughts on “Pantsy Plotter and the Templates of Story-Telling”

  1. Reblogged this on Wyrdwend and commented:
    I am a very careful plotter myself. I could not write a book of fiction (or one of non-fiction) myself without a useful set of tools. I do not use the tools described in this post, over the years I have created my own (according to my own unique specifications), but without the use of those tools I could not realistically write (much less write well) any complex work.

    Liked by 1 person

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