Writing Your First Novel, Part 1: The Novel Prep Sheet | Ted Uram | Skillshare

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Writing Your First Novel, Part 1: The Novel Prep Sheet

teacher avatar Ted Uram, Writing & Fantasy Cartography

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 1 INTRO


    • 2.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 2


    • 3.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 3


    • 4.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 4


    • 5.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 5


    • 6.

      Novel Prep Sheet Video 6


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About This Class

Writing your first book can feel overwhelming. In this first of two classes designed to help you write your first novel, I'll share with you the simple preparation method I use before writing all of my books. Let's get started! 

Prerequisites: None, writers of all levels can benefit from this class

* This is the first of two classes designed to help you complete your first novel. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Ted Uram

Writing & Fantasy Cartography


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Level: Beginner

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1. Novel Prep Sheet Video 1 INTRO: Don't you wish you had a plan? Something that will help you write your first book? You've got a great idea and a strong desire to right. But what you really need is some help organizing your thoughts. Novel prep. She helps you get all your thoughts organized so that you can begin writing your first novel with confidence. I am Ted Faster on award winning fiction writer, and I'm here to help you write your first novel. 2. Novel Prep Sheet Video 2: you know, if you're like me, you just full of all kinds of great ideas for books. But ideas, air, just they're just ideas. I'm sure your idea is great, but the idea of her book is just a kernel of what's really needed. Actually, write one. It's the seed that makes it will come to life. So how do you do that? How do you take an idea and turn it into something that people actually want to read? The answer lies in understanding differences between an idea which is actually a premise and the plot for a novel. Now we're not gonna go into plot in this class going to talk about that later classes. But for right now, it's really good to have a firm understanding of what a premise is and how it can help you plan for your novel. If you haven't already done so, please download the novel prep sheet, which is included with this class. In this sheet, you're going to see numerous blank spaces. This is where we're gonna fill in all the information we need and all the information we uncover as we progressed. Now, before we get started, let's take care of a couple things at the top of this sheet. First and foremost, the title of your book is very important, along with your cover art. It's the first thing readers encounter when they discover your book. And while there are all sorts of debate on what you should call your book or how you should use your title of some kind of S E o opportunity, what you choose to title your book should not be based on that name. Your book. Whatever you want to call your book as you write, actually having a title for your book even early on, kind of like a guiding star. You gives you direction. It gives you something to shoot towards it. It might not necessarily be the title that you end up using for the book, and that's okay. You don't have to have an ironclad title Now if you don't know what your title is, just put working title just below the spot where you wrote your title is a place where you can write in your author name Now, just below that, you're going to see a grouping of the genre. Genres actually are very valuable. Tell you why genres help both your agent and the editors that they talked to a publishing companies determined where and how to sell your book and how to market your book. So select as many or as few as you want. If you could be really specific, that's actually a good thing, because then I put you in a specific niche, which helps everyone figure out what type of looking writing. But if you don't know, or if you feel that you don't want to write within a particular genre, just put other. Don't feel trapped by any genre selection that you choose now, you can always change those later. You can always blend them. Like I said, way we don't have to stick to a specific Jonah I often right science fantasy fiction, fantasy slash thriller with little elements of core. So it's kind of hard to describe. Look, sometimes that's kind of my thing, and my agent got to know me over time and nose the style of book I write, which helps him. But initially you want to have something kind of clear, some kind of vision, and if it winds up being other than just make sure it's something that you can explain. Okay, just below this spot on your sheet is something where we're gonna write your premise. Now before we get started. Let's examine what a premise is. As I said before, when writers speak about ideas, what they're really talking about is the premise for a book. The premise sums up what your book is in just a couple of sentences. It's very clear. It's very precise, and it's often what's referred to as your elevator speech. Now, if you're unfamiliar with that term, think of it this way. You're in an elevator, but you're not a little in there with you. Is a literary agent now. It's not just any literary agent. It is the agent you most respect. Theo agent, you dream will take you on as a client. So let's say this agent turns to you. The elevator is rising, but it's only going up a few floors. Time is of the essence. Your dream literary agent turns to you and says So I hear you've written a book. What's it all about? This is your chance, possibly. What do you say? Damn when you think you were premise in these terms, it really hit home. Your premise has to be clear. It has to be tight, has to be brief, and you have to be prepared to carry your premise with you in your head everywhere you go, because if someone asks, you gotta be able to spout it out. Now, before you can use your premise to knock the socks off of your literary agent, you have to take some time to define exactly what a premise is. When people ask me about my novel that Ross Island Bridge, I said something like this. Ross Island Bridge tells the story of Nora Maldonado, a pain management nurse who takes her dying husband on one last adventure in an old RV and comes face to face with the shocking truth about her world short and sweet. And it packs a punch, and it's weird, and it's interesting. It doesn't really sound like any other book that's out there of good premises. Not only intriguing, it leaves potential readers wanting more. Take a moment to consider your premise. Your elevator speech. What will you say? Give it some good thought. One last thing to remember your premise is your promise It's your promise to your agent to your editor to publishing company. But most importantly, it's your promise to your readers. Your premise says everything. Solid premise provides plan. It's a plan that points you towards the end zone. This is your commitment to the book your way of Tell your brain that I am ready to. It's pretty simple. If you can't come up with the logical premise, then you're not ready to write. Don't sweat it. Give it some time. Give it some thought, and along the way you're gonna find yourself asking some questions. Where does my story take place? Is this in the past, the present or the future? Who are the main characters? What's going to happen to them? Here's a secret. No matter what any writer tells you, we all have a least some fuzzy idea how the story starts and how it ends. And honestly, the romantic view of simply sitting down and waiting for the muse is to come and inspire you. It's baloney. It's not realistic. It's just not how books are written. Take some time, think hard and be honest, but just remember, your book can't include everything, but it must have a reason for existing has to have a start and it has to go somewhere. And it has to eventually end. And another thing to remember your premises. Your job. I don't know of any writer who honestly would not take an offer from a publishing company to publish and get paid for their writing. But as the saying goes, writers get paid, but you want to get paid when you complete the job. Writing a book is honestly were the most stressful things you can do. You can spend months and months at it, sometimes years and then you can finally type the word, the end. And that doesn't sell all that work for nothing. This is your first test. How strongly are you committed? Do you have what it takes to do this? I think you do. You're here, you're watching and you're listening and you're learning. And believe me, that puts you thousands of steps ahead of all the other writers who just jump in with no plan. So do you have a premise yet? Does it does finally feel like your book is becoming something really good? I'm truly happy for you. Write down your premise. Commit to bringing the story to life. I'll see in the next video 3. Novel Prep Sheet Video 3: Hi. Welcome back in this video, we're gonna take a closer look at the cast of characters people who populate your book. Now it goes without saying books contain characters. But whether these characters are people, animals, robots, monsters or even inanimate objects doesn't matter. Characters are the lenses, all of the lenses through which the reader experience is the story. Your key characters reveal this story by allowing us to momentarily become them to borrow not only their eyes but their thoughts, their feelings and every other sense that they have as well as their emotions. Your characters are the story. I bet you didn't realize that most people think it's the plot or the setting that makes this story come to life. And although it's true that mystery in action and intrigue are all very appealing, without solidly crafted characters to take us along on the journey, everything will feel wouldn't like cardboard. So it's taken one to consider how we can prevent this from happening and develop good, solid characters that your readers will fall in love with. OK, let's get one thing straight. No matter what kind of novel you're writing, there can only be one main character, and this is your protagonist. Your protagonist is the hero, even if some people would consider, or even if most people would consider your main character building. Whatever character is in the leading role in your book is the protagonist. Your protagonist always starts book and gets the story rolling for every hero. There's always got to be a villain, and the villain is known as the antagonised. The antagonised can also take on a leading role, although in most cases this is still a lesser role to the protagonist again, the protagonist is the star of the show, and there can only really be one star. Even so, in most cases, the antagonised still provides a point of view on your novel prep sheet. Fill in the name of your protagonist. You can always change this later in my new book, Cannon Beach. The protagonist name, I think it started out is something like Jennifer, but soon came to realize that her name Stella. Big difference. Below that jot down just the general characteristics of your protagonist, such as the basic appearance, and I just mean basic now their age, their general busy clothing, etcetera, whatever you want to include. Just make sure to keep it simple. Below this, you're going to see a spot for the antagonise and once again right down their name, provide a brief description again. All we're really looking for is to be able to pick them out in a crowd. Now it's time to list the co stars. Co stars are any character that plays an important role in the novel and provides a point of view. So they have to have a point of view all we need right now again, it's their names, simple description of who they are and their role in the book to be clear. Co stars are any characters that are important to the story and provide a point of view, but they're neither the protagonist nor the antagonised. If your book is set in a fantasy realm and there are elves, not every elf can be a co star. Only the elves who affect the story. We have the ability to change your influence, the direction of the narrative and provide a point of view. Examples of co stars could include he companions who go off on their own quest, a lover or a friend left worry someone imprisoned who is plotting to get out and do harm to our hero, a killer stalking his victims, The tracker helping the sheriff scout out the bandit camp. Now there is 1/3 type of character, and these will be called tertiary characters. Tertiary characters are 1/3 layer that we're not gonna write down on our sheet just yet, But just understand that they're different from the co star is different from the protagonists in the antagonised. They're going to show up. They're gonna provide color, but they don't provide a point of view. Let's take a look at a tertiary character. Keith the Ogre is the barkeep at the Last Chance Saloon, while Keith appears in several scenes throughout the book. Even has reams of dialogue is the interacts with both our protagonist and a co star. He does not have his own point of view. Keith is what is considered a tertiary character, 1/3 layer in the book. Keith's interactions are important, and they help move the story forward, but he is not privy to the heart of the narrative and only plays a sideline role. Examples of tertiary characters can include the affable, barkeep helpful spirit who provides information from the after world. The flight deck technician who keeps the heroes star speeder in tip top shape. A school counselor always willing to lend in here, the vending machine repairman who often spouts words of wisdom. Congratulations. You've just completed a very, very big and important step in your novel. You've listed all your important characters who will appear. Give yourself a big pat. Continue on to the next video. I'll see you there. 4. Novel Prep Sheet Video 4: Welcome back in this video, we need to decide how your story is going to be told. And by this I mean the following. We need to determine your point of view, and we need to consider the narrative tents. Now, if you've never heard of both of these terms, don't worry. We're gonna go over each one at a time to begin with. Let's examine what we mean by point of view. Point of view describes how the reader experiences the story. Different points of view provide varying degrees of information and thereby completely different reading experiences. The point of you can take on several forms for simplicity's sake. We're just gonna cover the big Three first person, second person and third person, which is the most popular. The first person point of view uses I and we with this point of view, the story is told on Lee from the viewpoint of the protagonist. Readers see the story on Lee as it is experienced from the protagonist perspective. The narrative is written as follows. When I first walked into the refugee camp, I had no idea what I was in Fourth, This creates a very personal tone, one in which the reader feels like they actually are the narrator. The person telling the story First person perspective can be very powerful, but it can also be very limiting. Use of the first person often gives a lonely feeling to the story, since we're limited to seeing things on. Lee, through this perspective of the narrator, were left to guess what all the other characters in the book are seeing feeling and, most importantly, what they're thinking. The second person point of view uses on Lee the U perspective. Much like the first person. Things can seem a little weird when they're told from the second person perspective, almost intrusive if it's not used properly. Second person conf you'll like. The reader is being told what the story is. They're being told what to do and what to feel. Here's an example. Using the same Linus before here's an example of second person. You walk into the refugee camp with no idea what you are in for. The third person perspective is the he she it they perspective. Third person is actually the most popular point of view for most genre fiction Writing. Using this perspective allows the writer to present the story as told from multiple points of view. We can also get into the heads of several other characters As the story unfolds once again , here's the same line. Told from the third person perspective, the three of them walked into the refugee camp none knowing what they were in for. The thing I want to illustrate here is you want to think wisely about your point of view, because once you start your book, you're not gonna be able to change it. When you were ready. Select which point of view you'd like to use and write this down on your novel Prep. She okay? You're doing really well. I'll see in the next video. 5. Novel Prep Sheet Video 5: Welcome back. Now it's time to talk about two forms of narrative tents present tense and passed its to select your form of narrative tents. All you have to do is ask yourself one simple question. Are things in your book happening now? Four. Are they happening Way back when? Let's use another example of writing this time writing, written and third person, and we'll take a look at both forms of narrative tents. Past tense Higbee and Blossom raced through the field of poppies with wild abandon. Present tense Higbee and Blossom race through the field of poppies with wild. Did you spot the difference there? It's subtle, but it's there. In the past tense, Word Raced is used to indicate that our characters have already found their way through the field pot in the present tense. The accidents actually happening in the now it's actually happening. As the leader is meeting the lines. Can't the same thing happened when we use the past tense? Yes, absolutely. Believe it or not, use of past or present tense is actually a matter of great debate. Both could give the feeling of something something happening in the now as well as something happening way back when Truthfully, it's whatever you're comfortable. There is one thing to consider. Stick to one for Believe me, nothing is more irritating for a reader than to be reading a book written by a writer who lazily flip flops back and forth between present and past tense. That's frustrating. Guess what? They're gonna put the book down. Okay, that's it. We'll see in the next video. 6. Novel Prep Sheet Video 6: congratulations. You just filled out your first novel prep sheet. Well, I certainly hope you enjoy this class. I create a new novel prep sheet before I start any book. It really helps me keep track of all my characters, and it helps me commit to all the aspects of book that most new writers often forget to consider. Please don't forget to follow me on skill share so you could be notified when part two of this syriza's posted the second class will cover something really cool. I call the alphabet outline, which I really think you can enjoy. I encourage you to share your projects here on skill share. It's a great place to get feedback on all the progress with the writing of your first novel . And if you want, you can ask me questions, and I'll do my best to answer everyone. Don't forget to look at my profile, where you can find all my social media links to hang out usually on Facebook a lot, but I'm on Twitter and Instagram as well, and please don't forget to review this class until next time. Happy writing