How I Organize My Drafts + FREE TEMPLATES | Guest Post

by - August 16, 2019

Hey there, friends! Today, I am pleased to present a guest post by a fellow writer, blogger, and YDubberRobin Meeks! I hope you find this post helpful!


Writing is messy sometimes. It’s easy to lose track of where you’re going with your story if you aren’t organized. You forget what scene is supposed to come next, or you run into plot holes, or your settings or characters are inconsistentyou name it. 


Today, I would like to share a system I’ve recently started using for keeping my drafts organized. Since I started using this system, it has become so much easier to stay on track while I’m writing.  And here’s the best part: There are no fancy or expensive programs. All I use is Google Docs!


A bit of a disclaimer before we get started: You may not be the type of writer that likes to have everything organized. Maybe you can write better without all the planning and organizing. If that’s you, no problem! Every writer is different. Do what works best for you!


Here are the links to the three Docs I’ll be talking about if you’d like to follow along. You may also save the Docs to your own Google Drive or download them as Word docs and use them as templates! 



I organize my drafts on three separate Google Docs. The first is my outline, the second is notes, and the third is my draft.  


Ready to be more organized? Let’s jump in!

The Outline Doc

I’m going to start by explaining my Outline Doc. This is the Doc where I keepyou guessed itmy outline. 


My outline is set up based on K.M. Weiland’s books Structuring Your Novel and Creating Character Arcs. If you haven’t read them, you should, because they’re amazing books. Or, you can go to this link to read K.M Weiland’s shortened lessons on story structure and this link to read her lessons about character arcs.


The first thing in this document, other than the title and cover, is a “plot overview” outline. 




(Note: These screenshots are from my own WIP. Some information has been removed/left blank.)


This section gives me my plot at a glance. If I’m getting lost, I check back here to make sure I’m staying on track with my plot and character arc(s).


Before I get into the outline, I have my synopsis. Next, I have included important points about my theme and character arc (Focusing Question, Message, Lie, Thing He Wants, and Thing He Needs). Then, I jump into the three acts, listing all the important plot points and other details. 


The next section is my scene outline




This is a detailed outline of every scene in my story. I normally don’t have every line filled out, especially since I’m writing a first draft at the moment, and that’s perfectly fine. I just put down what I know. Again, this is based on Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, so that’s where the terms come from.


For every scene, I have space to write the goal, conflict, and disaster. For every sequel (the scenes-between-scenes where your characters decide what to do next), I have space for the reaction, dilemma, and decision. Then there are also some other notes like the dates and times the scene takes place in, the setting, and the POV character. 


The Notes Doc

The next doc is the Notes Doc. This is where I keep track of all the non-plot-related details: setting, characters, alpha and beta notes, random ideas, etc. This doc is less structured and changes constantly, but there are still some categories to keep it organized.  




The first section is characters




I’m not the kind of writer who likes to have 100 questions per character. For me, listing the role (ex: protagonist, side character), age, appearance, personality, and goal are enough. (I can always add more sections later if I feel they’re necessary!) 


Next is the setting section. 




This section is even less structured. The top simply lists the time period, name, and description (ex. Austin, France; Narnia) of the general setting for the whole book. Then, I have a list of smaller settings that appear in my story. For example, the main character’s home, a coffee shop they often visit, or a basement they’re being held captive in. 


The next section is snippets and ideas. This section I won’t show a picture for because it’s simply a bulleted list of random ideas! This is where I put down any ideaswhether they’re good or not doesn’t matterthat pop into my head so I easily can find them later. 


Lastly is “other notes”.




This, as you probably guessed, is anything that doesn’t fit in the other categories. I like to keep track of people that have asked to be an alpha/beta when I finish the book in this section.


The Draft Doc

The last Google Doc I use is the actual draft. 






This doc is split up by scenes and sequels. This makes it super easy to find my notes for each scene in my Scene Outline. 


Because all of this is on Google Docs, there’s a handy little outline that pops up if you click “view”, then “show document outline”:




You can click on any of those lines and it will take you right to that section. This makes it super duper easy to find things even when your doc gets really long!


I hope my organization method gave you some ideas for organizing your own projects. Feel free to download and use my templates, or use them as a guide to customize your own organization method. This process is very flexible and changes constantly.


Remember that when it comes to organizing, what’s most important is to do whatever works best for you!


Here’s to being more organized!


About the Author



Robin Meeks is a teenage author and blogger. She is working on several books targeted toward Christian young adults who enjoy genres like science fiction, contemporary, and dystopian. She hopes to one day become a published author and use her stories to encourage and strengthen other young Christians. You can find her on her website at robinmeeks.net, where she blogs about writing, faith, and life, or on Instagram (@robinmeeksauthor). 


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what about you?
How do you organize your drafts? Did you find these tips helpful? Did you check out the awesome templates Robin is giving us?

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2 comments

  1. Okay, this was amazing!! I'm totally not a plotter, but I keep pages of character notes in my bookshelf and we won't even get into all the messy notes on my phone... I may have to snag these!! Also...a dystopian Esther retelling?? That is so neat!

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    Replies
    1. Feel free to use them, Kassie! I'm so glad you found this post helpful! :D

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