Printables for Writers

 

I'm in the writing cave thinking up a brand new series which means I'm in the throes of creation. Over the course of five-years-plus int his business, and twenty-three books released, I've finally committed to a system for wrangling the ideas, characters, and plots for my books. 

Today I'm sharing a few printables I've been using for the last couple of years. I return to them time and time again; whenever I'm starting a new book. I find them invaluable. 

Form #1: The Quickie Character Sheet

Here is an example of how I use the Quickie Character Sheet, though the form itself hass been updated since this!

Here is an example of how I use the Quickie Character Sheet, though the form itself hass been updated since this!

I don't know if you've noticed or not, but I have a "Shop" section on my website. Previously, this has housed autographed books (If You Dare signed paperbacks are still available exclusively in that link), and my design work and side-hustle links, but I've never shared forms until now.

I'm fascinated by craft and process, and everyone's methods are different. Some authors' processes have inspired me and others have terrified me. I kid, I kid. What I mean by that is the way you work is the way you work, and not all methods work for all creators. But we all have to start somewhere. I humbly offer a few tried-and-true starts for your printable pleasure!

Better yet, these forms are on sale for a limited time, though that price is subject to change, so grab 'em while you can!

The first form is a Quickie Character Sheet, which you may have seen before. It's had a few updates since I made that jpeg, however, and the latest version in the shop section is the one I use when I start each and every book.

Without fail, this form is my go-to.

Each book in a series gets its own (pretty) file folder and this sheet is on top. (You can read more on the folder method here.) 

 

Form #2: The Plot Thickens

The second form I lean on is one I call The Plot Thickens. You can use this form in one of two ways:

  1. Brainstorm items, objects, places, or people and jot them down, one per line. You might write "water bottle" or "speeding ticket" or "picnic." Each of these lines can serve as a starter for a scene, a chapter or a major plot point.

  2. Define future scenes. You know you want the heroine to be late to court. You have already envisioned the hero punching his boss's lights out. Write down what you can picture clearly to give you a jumping-off point when you're drafting.

You could do this on a plain old sheet of paper, but if you want something a bit prettier, this is a nice companion to slip into your folder behind your Quickie Character Sheet.

*Note: the Don't Forget section might be the hero's glasses or the heroine's tattoo. The blank box is a free-for-all notes section.

 

Paper vs. Computer

But why printables, Jessica? 

As much as I love my precious Macs and writing program Ulysses, I tend to lean on a printed form or worksheet when I'm plotting and planning. Lately I've even taken to printing out screen-shots of my Pinterest boards to help cement characters in my mind! 

There is something comforting about an actual dossier that makes the book more real to me. I don't know about you, but a first draft can feel like being a room with a bunch of strangers, all looking to you for direction. It can be alienating and strange and uncomfortable. Having made decisions ahead of time, with proof you did it in the form of a worksheet keeps writer's block at bay. Having the information on hand in a scannable form is also super helpful for when you, oh, say, forget what color's your hero's eyes are or need to remember your heroine's educational history. 

If you've been reading my blogs for a while you know I also lean on a physical, paper planner for my planning needs. I even print out a weekly snapshot to plan those pages sometimes! In general I do better with forms on paper mostly because completing one, or striking to-dos off my list, is really, really freaking satisfying.

 

Done! Now what?

Since these forms are jumpstarts to your book you've probably noticed a few holes... like plotting. And characterization. You may still have to write The Dreaded Synopsis, for which I have an EPIC form that will solve all your synopsis woes! Well, except for actually writing it... Not to leave you with a cliffhanger, but that form is coming soon, I promise! For now, I invite you to download these two forms and brainstorm your heart out.

Oh, and I also recommend using a pretty pen.