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How I Plan My Stories?

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Before I found out about outlining for novels, which I call “A Novel-Based Outline”, I would mostly write summaries and notes for my characters, scenes, & settings. I didn’t know much about how to outline my story nor how to structure it.

Somehow, I stumbled across Sarra Cannon “Heart Breathings” Youtube channel and it changed my life and made me excited about writing again. She uses a color coding system to outline her novels, whether it’s with one character point of view or multiple point of views.

This year, I thought it would be a great time to put into practicing the color coding system of outlining a novel. I also began reading books about structuring from K.M. Weiland (her books are linked below).

As I prepare for Preptober for NaNoWriMo, I have gathered a few things to help me with my planning. This will be the first time I have used this system and I don’t think it will be my last.

  • First, I figured out my main character(s). For my current Writing In Progress (WIP), I have 4 main characters. Naomi, Mark, Patricia, & Mya. I then created character profile sheets for these characters to get as much detail about them as I can to figure out their story. After that, I created character arcs for each character to figure out their goals, conflicts, motives, & their resolution. When this was complete I created a one page minor/allie character profile sheet with minimal information, but important to move the story forward.

  • Second, I create color codes for each main character. This was a tricky part, because I used a variety of sticky notes and there were limited colors to choose from as I tried to keep all styles of sticky notes and post-it notes the same color. Here is my break down:

Naomi - Blue

Mya - Green

Mark - Orange

Patricia - Red

I then found various sizes of sticky notes to use in my plotting and planning.

  • Lastly, I used a poster board to create my 3-Story Act Structure. I divided the poster board into a 3-story act structure. Some Acts are split into just so I can keep up with where I am in the storyboard. I then use the sticky notes to write a summary of my scenes on them and begin to place these scenes on the poster board, which creates the story. Each scene that is told by a specific character is color coded and then placed on the board. The good thing about this is that I can move scenes around. My goal is to add the 3-Act / 9-Block / 27-Chapter system into the mix and play around with it.

3-Story Act Structure

3-Act / 9-Block / 27 Chapter

I love that this system is thought provoking. It definitely makes you think about your story deeply. Most of the time, I only know the beginning of my story and some of the middle. I usually struggle figuring out the third act. Even if I don’t know how it’s going to end, I can still write using my storyboard.

I would love to hear your process of writing your story. Comment below.


LaQueisha Malone is an award-winning author, entrepreneur, and literary coach who has been in this industry for over 14 years. With her expertise and knowledge in the literary world she has picked up the mantle to help other authors and publishing companies with their publishing and writing needs helping them achieve success.

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Sarra Cannon “Heart Breathings” Youtube

K.M. Weiland - Outlining Your Book

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