There are a number of excellent templates and systems available for authors to plan, plot, and structure their stories. Here’s a ranked list of the best ones:

  1. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody: The #1 spot goes to this book-based system, which provides a detailed step-by-step process to create your novel structure. Derived from Blake Snyder’s popular “Save the Cat!” screenwriting method, it offers 15 key plot points (beats) to guide your storytelling.
  2. Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson: This method advocates starting from the simplest possible version of your story and gradually adding complexity. It’s great for developing characters and plot in a structured, organic manner.
  3. The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell: This classic template follows a universal storytelling structure used in countless books and movies. It’s an ideal choice for writers working on a hero-centric, adventure-based narrative.
  4. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks: This book offers a comprehensive approach to writing, including a detailed analysis of story structure, character development, theme, and more. The Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing is particularly useful.
  5. Three Act Structure: This is a classic storytelling template that divides the narrative into Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. It’s straightforward, easy to follow, and can be applied to virtually any genre.
  6. Freytag’s Pyramid: Based on classical drama, this template includes exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. It’s particularly useful for writing stories with a dramatic arc.
  7. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler: This book is a guide to the patterns of mythology. It’s a more detailed version of The Hero’s Journey and provides an excellent template for writers creating complex, myth-inspired narratives.
  8. Novel Factory’s Roadmap: This online writing tool includes an extensive range of templates, character questionnaires, and plot structure outlines.
  9. Story Grid by Shawn Coyne: This is a method for deconstructing your story into its elements to analyze and improve it. It’s a great tool for those who enjoy a more analytical approach to writing.
  10. One Page Novel Scene Spreadsheet by Eva Deverell: This online resource offers a simple, streamlined way to plan your novel on a single page.
  11. The 24 Chapter Novel Writing Template by Derek Murphy: This detailed outline fills in the messy middle so you have a clearer pacing and momentum in your story.

Remember, the best method will ultimately depend on your personal writing style and the type of story you’re telling. Feel free to experiment and combine different systems until you find the one that works best for you.

book writing template chapter outline for plotting