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Writing Cheat Sheet Cheat Sheet by

A cheat sheet for writing fiction

Save the Cat beat sheet

Opening Image
Theme stated
Set up
Break into two
"­B" story
Fun and games
Bad guys close in
All is lost
Dark night of the soul
Break into three
Final image
"­A" Story == external
"­B" Story == internal
Save the Cat

Dwight Swain's Scenes and Scenarios

Proactive Scene
Reactive Scene

Dwight Swain's Motivation Reaction Units

External and objective
Internal and subjective

3 Parts of a Reaction

“A bolt of raw adrenaline shot through Jack’s veins.” You show this first, because it happens almost instantly.
“He jerked his rifle to his shoulder . . .” You show this second, as a result of the fear. An instin­ctive result that requires no conscious thought.
Rational Action and Speech
“. . . sighted on the tiger’s heart, and squeezed the trigger. ‘Die, you bastard!'” You put this last, when Jack has had time to think and act in a rational way. He pulls the trigger, a rational response to the danger. He speaks, a rational expression of his intense emotional reaction.

12 Techniques to improve your writing

Get rid of "­tha­t"
Avoid other filler words
Eliminate adverbs and adjectives
Show, don't tell
Use metaphors and similes
Practice dialog
Stop talking to your reader
No more business jargon
No infini­tives or gerunds (eliminate -ing)
Avoid nonsexist language
Use specific examples, not vague generic ideas

Chuck Palahniuk

“In six seconds, you’ll hate me. But in six months, you’ll be a better writer. From this point forward—at least for the next half year—you may not use “thought” verbs."­
These include: Thinks, Knows, Unders­tands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.
The list should also include: Loves and Hates. And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those later.

7-point structure by Dan Wells

Scene 1 or 2
Plot Turn 1
Scene 12
Pinch 1
Scene 20, 21, 22
Scene 30
Pinch 2
Scene 36,37
Plot Turn 2
Scene 45
The third column is the order in which you should write these scenes. Dan Wells and Storyfix

Editing advice

Remove the character as acting
Remove "­sen­se" words
Make the action the subject of the sentence
Break down the verb to add variety to your sentences

The Story Grid

1. Inciting Incident
 ­ ­ ­ ­ ­Causal
 ­ ­ ­ ­ ­Coi­nci­dence
2. Progre­ssive Compli­cation
 ­ ­ ­ ­ ­Active Turning Point
 ­ ­ ­ ­ ­Rev­elatory Turning Point
3. Crisis
 ­ ­ ­ ­ The Best Bad choice
 ­ ­ ­ ­ ­Irr­eco­nci­lable goods
4. Climax
5. Resolution

Remove these crutch words

a couple, a few, absolu­tely, actively, all, alleged, am, amazing, appeared, are, awesome, bad, basically, be, been, being, both, brains­torm, careful, carefully, certainly, compar­ati­vely, consid­erably, could, dazzle, decidedly, deeply, definite, defini­tely, emotional, even, every, extremely, eyes, fortun­ately, generally, get, getting, good, got, grin, have, he's, hear, here's, herself, himself, honestly, hopefully, I'm, in fact, in general, incred­ibly, inevit­ably, inhere­ntly, is, it's, journey, just, keep, lay, look, mindfully, namely, necess­arily, nice, okay, only, overall, partic­ularly, per se, perhaps, person­ally, positi­vely, presently, pretty, quickly, quiet, quietly, quite, rather, really, relati­vely, report­edly, resonate, saw, see, seemed, seriously, she's, simmer, simply, since, sit, slowly, smile, smirk, so, so-called, some, somewhat, spoke, stand, stood, stride, strode, suddenly, that, that's, there's, they're, thing, totally, truly, unfort­una­tely, various, very, was, we're, weird, were, what's, whatever, who's, you're

Orwell's Rules

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never us a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use the passive where you can use the active.
Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word, or jargon if you can think of an everyday English equiva­lent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Heinlein's Rules

You must write
Finish what you start
You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order
You must put your story on the market
You must keep it on the market until it has sold
Start working on something else


"The first thing a writer must write is a thick skin." - @elmwr­iting
"­Before you can write anything, you have to notice someth­ing." - John Irving
"­"­(It's) like death... something you do on your own & nobody can help you." - @neilh­imself
"­Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on" - Louis L'Amour
"Get bored. Only when our mind stops being constantly engaged will story machines in our subcon­scious get to work." - @mightymur


Very useful cheat sheet, great job!

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