Karina M. Sokulski
Three-Act Structure Spreadsheet
You know what I've had a heck of a time finding lately? A worksheet on outlining a three-act structure. I spent hours Googling worksheets and spreadsheets other writers posted online and just couldn't find anything that wasn't a literal picture of the graph itself or an overly complex checklist that made my ADHD brain want to cry. So I made one of my own that's simple and scene-summary friendly. I'm not the most organized individual and my usual outline habit is a chicken scratch list that relies on summarizing what I want to flesh out. Now I've just taken that method and made it look fancy on a spreadsheet so my minimal Excel muscle has been flexed.
Here's How it works:
The leftmost column from top to bottom frames the steps of each act. Each cell in this column is titled with the instruction that correlate to their adjoining rows. The first row of this column is titled, "Status Quo --> Inciting Incident" and the idea is to fill the adjoining cells with summaries of scenes that you'll include to establish the status quo and work your way towards the inciting incident. Once you've filled out the row with scenes that would take you from the status quo to the inciting incident, you'll move onto the row below and continue on to the next step.
As you fill out these cells, you'll notice the top row of each spreadsheet offers titles labelled "Chapter/Scene [X] - [X]" and "Scene #" below. If you want to get really organized and designate your scenes into chapters, you have the option here. When outlining, it's always helped me to have a better idea of how many chapters make up each section of my three act structure. Sometimes I'm so wrapped up in a section of my book, I fail to notice that act one of my book suddenly has several more chapters than it should.
To keep this workbook simple, because simple spreadsheets are the only ones for me, each act has also been divided into separate tabs so each part is contained within its own sheet. There's nothing more difficult to me than a nightmarishly long spreadsheet that I have to reread through a dysgraphic lens as soon as its filled. Additionally, I like the option of separating acts one, two and three since each outline will vary in size upon completion.
If you're interested in this little spread sheet I've whipped up, it's available in this blogpost and on the new Downloads Page I've added to the site. Happy outlining!