Sunday, January 8, 2017

Five of my Favorite Writing Cheat Sheets from Around the Web

I have a massive cheat sheet folder of PDFs, Excels, Scrivener templates and OneNote templates that I have collected over the past five or so years. Every time someone posts a new cheat sheet I grab it and store it for later use. In August I started pruning the folder and managed to weed it down to thirty-some files. Here are the five sheets I find myself using the most in the past four months.

1. Romancing the Beat Cheat Sheet (PDF and Scrivener Template) from Gwen Hayes
Hands down, this is my favorite way to plot out a story. Gwen Hayes' revitalized the beat sheet into a way that works with romance writing. I've owned Save The Cat! for a few years now, but never really got it to work with me until I can across Gwen's book. I always have a hard copy of the cheat sheet with me. I'm not a fan of plotting in Scrivener because I like to have multiple windows open next to each other. I've found OneNote to be an excellent plotting tool because it syncs with the cloud. That means I can access my beat sheet from any of my devices at any time.

2. Essential Elements of a Story Worksheet by Jami Gold
Jami Gold has a ton of worksheets for writers. Beat sheets, checklists, revision sheets, and business plans. I've played around with most of them (the rest are on my mile long to-do list) and found that the Essential Elements sheet is a great place to start when I'm revising. I use the sheet to take notes on what my story does and does not have. I then turn my notes into a checklist of what I need to fix.

3. 550 Alternative Words for "Said" from AJ Barnett
Not exactly a cheat sheet, but this has saved my butt more times than I'd like to admit too. I copied the list over into a Word doc and printed it out for myself. It's in the same page protector as my Romancing the Beat cheat sheet. If you find yourself constantly repeating the same words, trying printing out a list of synonyms and pasting it on the wall directly in front of you.

4. Abridged Character Sheet by dehydromon
From the creator of the 390+ question character sheet comes the abridged version. This version contains 100 questions and can seem very overwhelming at first. Most of the questions on this sheet can be answered with one or two words. Once you're done you have every piece of info you'd every need. I copied this sheet over to OneNote so I can work on it on the go.

5. Novel Brainstorming Chart by Jill Williamson 
Jill Williamson has a treasure trove of worksheets on her site. I started using her novel brainstorming chart to catalog all of the plot bunnies floating around in my head. Rarely are the plots fully formed or anywhere near being ready, but having an organized place to put them helps down the road. With this sheet I can fill out what I have (or what I think I have) and come back to it later. This keeps the plot bunny out of my head and somewhere safe.

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