Beat Sheets

Jami Gold has an amazing resource for writers. Beat Sheets.

Beat sheets provide a visual way of “tracking” our story and its structure. At this early stage of revision, we can ensure we have all the beats necessary for good storytelling (the 4 major beats and maybe the 4 minor beats).

During our big revision phase later, we can verify the beats create increasing tension and stakes. We can see where beats should fall page-count or word-count wise and compare that to our story’s actual pacing. Is our story too slow in places? Do we have unnecessary scenes? Or have we underdeveloped an idea or reaction?


No Plot, No Problem

Chris Baty, motivator extraordinaire and instigator of a wildly successful writing revolution, spells out the secrets of writing and finishing a novel. Every fall, thousands of people sign up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which Baty founded, determined to (a) write that novel or (b) finish that novel in—kid you not—30 days. Now Baty puts pen to paper himself to share the secrets of success. With week-specific overviews, pep “talks,” and essential survival tips for today’s word warriors, this results-oriented, quick-fix strategy is perfect for people who want to nurture their inner artist and then hit print! Anecdotes and success stories from NaNoWriMo winners will inspire writers from the heralding you-can-do-it trumpet blasts of day one to the champagne toasts of day thirty. Whether it’s a resource for those taking part in the official NaNo WriMo event, or a stand-alone handbook for writing to come, No Plot? No Problem! is the ultimate guide for would-be writers (or those with writer’s block) to cultivate their creative selves.

Ever looked at your bookshelf and thought, “I could take any one of these paperweights in a fight”?

When you add No Plot? No Problem! to your personal library, it’ll give you a run for your lexical money! It’s a writing heavyweight, muscled with advice, activities, pep talks, and prompts that are sure to match your brain swing for swing in a literary tussle. Challenge this guide, and win, and you’ll have written a champ of a novel that can hold its own in the ring!

Every copy of the revised, updated, and expanded edition of No Plot! No Problem! is signed by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty.

Pick up your copy:

Aspiring novelists don’t need an MFA in creative writing, a book agent, an airtight plot, or a winsome cast of characters to get a novel writtenthey don’t even need to know what they’re doing. All that’s needed is a little determination and this high-octane kit to kick motivation into overdrive and inspire users to produce a 50,000-word book in an exhilarating, invigorating month long Noveling Adventure.

48-page booklet
31 Daily Noveling Briefsrecommended allowances of writing advice and activities for every day of the noveling month
Guided, month long, displayable log for keeping track of progress
Motivational materials, pep-talking letters, and commitment coupons
The Mighty Badge of the Triumphant Wordsmith

This kit from Chronicle Books is like an off-line NaNoWriMo. Perfect for people new to the high-velocity novel, the kit contains a handful of pants-kicking tools and productivity-raising notions from the “No Plot? No Problem!” book, along with 30 short daily noveling pep talk cards, a book of magical prose-producing coupons, a progress chart, stickers, and other goodies designed to keep morale high and word counts soaring.

Pick up your copy:


Seventh Sanctum

If you need character names or prompts for writing ideas, Seventh Sanctum is your site.

The Sanctum has generators for everything from setting and names to humor to technology or even combat! Need a prompt because you’re stuck? Hit the idea generators. Sometimes the random plots give you ideas!

I hit up the “writing” selection and clicked on the story ideas link. It came up with an entire list which follows:

  • The theme of this story: allegorical thriller. The main characters: nostolgic queen and cunning dancer. The major event of the story: addiction.
  • The theme of this story: dark slice-of-life. The main characters: unstable rascal and unstable paladin. The start of the story: treason. The end of the story: promition.
  • The theme of this story: light-hearted mystery. The main character: negative secretary. The major event of the story: unveiling.
  • The theme of this story: noir character study. The main character: neurotic outlaw. The start of the story: intimidation. The end of the story: natural disaster.
  • The theme of this story: romantic conspiracy. The main character: enduring scribe. The start of the story: birth. The end of the story: funeral.
  • The theme of this story: satirical revenge. The main character: altruistic librarian. The major event of the story: joke.
  • The theme of this story: surreal revenge. The main character: misunderstood priestess. The start of the story: tragety. The end of the story: resignation.
  • The theme of this story: wacky conflict. The main characters: laid-back martial artist and nostolgic archivist. The start of the story: violence. The end of the story: critical injury.
  • The theme of this story: wacky quest. The main character: unwise pedlar. The start of the story: delusion. The end of the story: adoration.
  • The theme of this story: weird romance. The main characters: driven inventor and misunderstood official. The start of the story: promition. The end of the story: war.