New Novel Worksheets| 3 Worksheets That’ll Help You Get Started Writing Your Novel

Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel about caregiving and ALS. Her short story collection, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Awards. Her fiction has won Gold and Silver Medals from Readers' Favorites International Book Awards, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, and many others.

Starting a new novel scares writers, even authors who’ve been at this writing game for years. In this post I’m going to give you three simple worksheets to help you firm up the novel that’s trapped in your head. Once you’ve put words on the page, you’ll have taken the first step in writing the book only you can write.

To write a new novel–or to tell a story of any kind–you need three things: a person, a place, and a problem. But the writing doesn’t become real until you put words on the page. For that reason, most writers begin with worksheets. I keep mine in an online binder and add information as I discover more about the people in my book.

a young man or woman looking at money at outdoor table

Find an intriguing image and use that picture as a springboard for the physical description of the person in your new novel. What intrigues me about this young person is that she or he is intent on examining the paper money. I’m wondering if s/he’s nearsighted. As for the person’s appearance, I see a wrinkled cotton shirt with a collar that’s rolled down. The homemade pants are gathered loosely around the waist. Are the pants covering other clothing? Image from Flickr via Preus museum

The Person In Your New Novel

Let’s start with your main person. (I actually favor the word “person” because, right from the start, using that word will encourage you to make this person as real to you as your siblings, spouse, and children are real.)

To me there’s a subtle difference between “character” and “person.” The word “character” is pretty close to “caricature,” and I don’t want the people in your new novel to come off as “types.”

When you’re filling out the worksheet, pay special attention to the habits and mannerisms