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First Draft Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by

My method to writing the first draft of a novel, tested by myself - adjustments will come and go as I improve my techniques.

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.

Starting Your Novel

Forming ideas
Gathering inspir­ation
National Novel Writing Month
Camp NaNoWriMo
A Round of Words in 80 days
These are just a few of many resources for writing. You can utilize as few or as many of these as you wish, as well as find some on your own.

Writing Help & Resources


Sticking It Through

Choose a monthly goal, such as 50,000 words.
Choose an additional goal to get to that monthly goal, such as 1,667 words per day or 11,667 words per week.
Don't worry about the quality of your writing. Save that for edits - just get the words down.
Give yourself incentive to write. Even little things like snacks or breaks can motivate you.
Partic­ipate in a community. Share your writing experience with others.
Join in on some #words­prints on twitter. Share your word counts.
Don't go back and edit. It's more important, for now, to finish up that draft.
Breathe. Commit to your novel, but don't let it control your life.
First drafts are, more often than not, not going to come out great. Don't worry about the quality of your first draft. You can't edit a blank page.

To Plot, or to Pants?


Plot Creation & Develo­pment

Plot Worksheet
The beginning of the story, where we are introduced to the charac­ters, setting, and plot.
Rising Action
The scenes in which conflict and plot begins to build up. There can be several instances of this.
The turning point of the story, be it good or bad. The confli­ct(s) are usually brought face to face to the charac­ter(s) at this point. The main charac­ter(s) almost always change or are effected here.
Falling Action
The scenes in which the loose ends of the conflict and plot are wrapped up, leading up to the resolu­tion. Much like rising action, there can be several instances of this.
The end of the story, be it pleasant or not. It can be conclu­sive, leading up to a sequel, or a cliff-­hanger.
You can go into a first draft with a well-o­utlined and thought out plot, a single idea, or anywhere in between. You don't have to have a whole plot in mind when you begin your first draft.

Character Creation & Develo­pment

Character Sheet
Main Character
The main character is the center of your story, and your protag­onist. They do not have to be 'good'. There can be several main characters or a single one.
Supporting Character
The supporting characters are the characters who exist in the story and are involved in it, but are not the main character. They are more important than minor charac­ters.
Minor Character
The minor characters are characters who exist in your story but are not entirely important or relevant.
The antagonist is the opposing character or group of charac­ters. They do not have to be evil/a villain or anything of that vein - they simply have to be opposing to your protag­onist.
Positive vs. Negative Character Traits
While your main charac­ter(s) and antago­nist(s) will be getting the most attention in your novel, it is important for all of your characters to be well-f­leshed out and three-­dim­ens­ional.