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  • Karina Sokulski

Outlining Story Premises (With a Worksheet)

It should come as no surprise at this point that I'm riding the novel writing train with all of these posts about character arcs, character alignment, etc.​ These topics tend to come to mind when you're writing a novel, and I can't help but toss out a story premise worksheet I've put to use before.

At some point, every writer has gotten to the stage of generating characters that will need to be fleshed out. Not only is the development of characters with depth vital to a project's success but their mingling with the elements of a plot are equally so. Sometimes I do work backward when it comes to developing my story and characters. Whether it's because of a lousy case of writer's block or a lack of firm decision making, sometimes it helps me to state first how my characters work when outlining the story's premise. How will my characters react to their circumstances in the story and what they will ultimately have to do about it? Sometimes answering these questions lets me see the characters I'm developing from a completely different angle. In the spirit of sharing tools that work for me with other writers, I've made a little spreadsheet that will help you outline your story premise. This spreadsheet includes a table that divides the following sections: setting, the main character, counter-pointed character/antagonist, inciting incident, and conflict. There are subcategories in each to fill in and comes with the added encouragement of summarizing everything you fill in. Further to this point, once you've filled in the table, there is a space at the bottom, encouraging you to summarize your story premise in two sentences. I've always found that if I can clearly state my story or a character, it means that I have a clear understanding of either. If I find myself in a situation where I can't clearly state something in my story, then that means the element requires further exploration.

To download the spreadsheet, scroll back up to the "free downloads" section of the page next to the post and claim your free worksheet!

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