Top 5 Formula Spreads for Your Writer’s Bullet Journal
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Writing with a formula seems like cheating. In fact, it’s an insult to stories that feel too much like other stories.
However, an understanding of structure and literary theory gives you a leg up on Jerry from Accounting who decided he wants to write alien erotica because “he heard it sells like hotcakes.”
Fuck you, Jerry. I know how this shit works.
Using your writer's bullet journal to keep those formulas at hand, especially when you’re in an outlining phase, will help you churn out your own alien erotica faster than Fucking Jerry, and your alien erotica will have better characters.
I don’t know why it’s all aliens erotica, t just came to my brain. Fuck off.
JK LOVE YOU. 🖤🖤🖤
Here are my top 5 favourite Formula Spreads to put in your writer's bullet journal, so you can slay Jerry and his stupid novel! (not actually slay, don’t kill people, unless they are fictional characters in your novel)
Dynamic Story Formula
I found this on Pinterest and I’ll be doing a more in depth post on it next week.
But check this shit out!
Makes sense don’t it?! I got this on Pinterest and it links to wellstoried.com. I REALLY love this!
Prep before using this spread to outline:
1 Figure out your main character’s goal
2 Figure out your main characters motivation or their “why”
3 Figure our your main character’s internal conflict
4 Figure our the EXTERNAL conflict
5 figure our your main character’s lie they tell themselves
6 And figure out your main character’s need.
Then that shit is plug and play! Simply making this list will help you get a better overview of how your character operates on an emotional and spiritual level. But doing this, you can make a more relatable main character, and you can tweak your story to make sure your character has agency, rather than your story sweeping along your character and they don’t have an agency.
After you’ve made that list, do a stream of consciousness run on your story’s outline, just a paragraph of everything you want to have happen in your novel. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to get all your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
Then, set it all out in chronological order with some bullets for the major events.
This form of outlining is a riff on Wesley Chu’s “Landmarks in the Sahara” outline. And it REALLY helps me get my outline in a format that doesn’t make me want to rip out my eyeballs or get be bogged down in the details. I can get all the ideas out of my head, fill the larger plot holes, and then get on with writing the freaking story.
If you want more information on that spread, sign up for my email list so you know when that post goes live!
Meyer’s Briggs Personality Spread
Do you remember seeing these all over the internet? It’s a personality test that goes beyond ice cream flavors and love language types.
I can’t go into it in this particular post, I will be in a future post, however! So make sure you JUMP ON THAT EMAIL LIST!
Basically, it hinges on five different areas of your life and the basic two types in that area. Then each type has a letter attached to it and the combination of those letters is your personality type.
If you want more information before my blog post comes out, go check out 16personalities.net.
I score as an INTP - T; or a Logician. This means:
I’m more Introverted than Extraverted.
I’m more Intuitive than Observant
I’m more Thinking than Feeling.
I’m more Prospecting than Judging
And I’m more Turbulent than Assertive.
To my family, this is NOT a fucking revelation. They basically all told me “Yeah, no freaking DUH, Zoë. You’re super creative, but you’re really analytical about it and you approach it systematically.”
Haha. Maybe that’s why the bullet journal system works SO WELL for me!
Where do you fall in the Meyer’s Briggs Personality Scope? Please tell me in the comments down below!
Now, looking at how these are categorized and reading up on the different personalities (of which there are 16, as the name implies) will allow you to understand people in a better way. This is why I really think that college students who want to be writers should take a couple of psychology courses, so they have a little better understanding of people and how they work. (I’m also a proponent of aspiring writers to STAY AWAY from the broken higher education system and the debt, but more on that down the road).
Take the quiz and take some time to get to know the different personalities. This will allow you to know YOURSELF, which will help you in your writing process! It will also allow you to make characters based on these personalities.
Now, I realize that casting a blanket personality on a certain percentage of the population is a flawed way of looking at the world. However, this is a great tool for just getting to know how people operate on a BASIC BASIC BASIC psychological level.
How do I put his in my Writer’s Bullet Journal?
I’m glad you asked that! You’re so smart!
That’s why I’m fucking here, don’t patronize me, bitch.
LANGUAGE, FUCK-TARD! THINK OF THE FUCKING CHILDREN!
Okay, swearing aside, this is one of my FAVORITE spreads in my journal! It helps me with all of the things!
Simply take a two-page spread and divide each page in half vertically. Then divide each spread into quarters horizontally. You should have sixteen boxes in which to place each of the personalities. You can arrange them however you’d like, but I have them colour coded off 16personalities.com and I have them labelled with those labels, as well.
I also have these cross-referenced with the NEXT spread, which is the 12 Character Archetypes.
I have these divided up into larger categories so it’s easier to match characters with a personality type in the early stages of brainstorming.
You know what I JUST thought of: putting that personality type in the Character Worksheet that’s available for free in my Novel Starter Kit for my email list. That way you can have that cross reference for your character catalogue for your novel.
I might have to mod this... I’ll keep you guys posted. FUCK this is a GREAT idea and I wish I’D THOUGHT OF IT SOONER!!!
Lemme know in the comments if this is something you feel is missing from that printable if you’ve got it, and let me know if it’s something you’d like to see in an updated version. I’ll get on it YESTERDAY.
12 Character Archetypes
The 12 Character Archetypes is an online database for writers that is incredibly helpful. I find it so helpful that I’ve put it in my bullet journal and have collated it with the Meyer’s Briggs Spread, as outlined above.
Basically, this is a really good way to break down your character’s motivation and need, as well as keep the rest of their character traits on track with their base.
FACK. I should add this to the printable, too. Yes? Lemme know if you want both of these…
There are quite a few blog posts done on this by other people, but I pull my information from HERE.
I’ll try to sum it up as best I can.
Even the 12 archetypes are broken up into three overarching types:
The Ego Types 1 - 4
The Soul Types 5 - 8
The Self Types 9 - 12
The 12 Archetypes are:
- The Innocent
- The Orphan/Regular Gal
- The Hero
- The Caregiver
- The explorer
- The Rebel
- The Lover
- The Creator
- The Jester
- The Sage
- The Magician
- The Ruler
You can see in my pictures how I’ve cross referenced these types with the Meyer’s Briggs types and I hope to tackle it in more depth in a future post, but I really want to show you how this REALLY works in my bullet journal.
Because it’s okay to have things be pretty and functional in your bullet journal. If that’s what makes you happy, then DO IT.
But I’m a MOM who is also a writer and a blogger. And I love writing, but that’s WORK. And I love you guys and doing these posts, but they are WORK. I’ll make my spreads as pretty and neat as possible for you guys, to inspire you and help you on your way.
But there’s a point where I have to say FUCK IT and move on with a FUNCTIONAL spread over a BEAUTIFUL one. I can make it pretty AFTER I’ve written 500 words, changed 12 diapers, written my blog post, and made dinner. Okay? Okay.
Rant over on THAT. MOVING ON.
Three Act Structure Spread
This spread is GREAT for structure and keeping you on track with clear goals in your outlining process and making sure you’re not taking FOREVER to get through your first act.
I LOVE TOLKIEN. Don’t get me wrong; I believe he paved the way for fantasy writers in the twentieth century. He’s AMAZING.
His first act structure gets SLOW and it takes a while for the adventure to begin. I tend to lean toward the fact that he kind of struggled with basic pacing issues, but it was the ONLY readable fantasy on the shelves for a while, so I can’t knock it too much.
The three act structure, IF you use it correctly, can solve this pacing issue.
Screen writers often use this to make sure they are hitting the right beats at the right place in their script, so that audiences walk away with a sense of satisfaction.
If you make sure that each act takes up a certain percentage (or an approximation) of your story, then your pacing SHOULD be on track.
Again, as with any writing formula, there is a margin for error. But sticking to rules like this can make sure that you’re learning them correctly, so you can break them later.
According to nownovel.com (and every other resource you’re gonna find out there), the Three Act Structure uses a 25-50-25 rule.
What the hell does that mean?
25% of your plot is for Act 1, ending at the Act 1 Climax scene.
50% of your plot is for Act 2, ending at the Act 2 Climax scene
25% of your plot is for Act 3, ending at the end of your novel, making sure that your Act 3 climax and the wind down of your book has enough space for all the questions to get resolved and for your readers to breathe a bit.
The MICE quotient is a technique developed by Orson Scott Card as a way to develop your story to hit a certain genre beat.
“What are the different kinds of stories? Forget about publishing genres for a moment; there isn't one kind of characterization for academic-literary stories, another kind for science fiction, and still others for westerns, mysteries, thrillers, or historicals. Instead let's look at four basic factors present in every story, with varying degrees of emphasis. Balancing these factors determines what sort of characterization a story must have, should have, or can have.” Orson Scott Card
Now, I realize that this is a particularly advanced piece of literary theory, and we can’t delve into it in full at this time. But writing own what this is in your writers bullet journal and understanding vaguely the shape of what this all means will give you a let up in your writing process.
First let’s break down the acronym.
Yep. It’s an acronym.
Don’t freak out! It’s gonna be okay. Let’s talk for a second, stick with me.
Milieu simply means “world” or “environment”. What kind of world does your story take place in? How heavily does the story hinge on the type of world? If it’s a milieu story, chances are it’s another crazy dimension, like the Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis.
If you’re writing this type of story, the world is almost a character itself and it’s more important than the characters.
Idea in this case simply means a problem or a what if scenario that arises that your characters must overcome. If this is the case, then mysteries are idea stories! While I would categorize “Harry Potter” and a Millieu story, it also has a large chunk of the Idea quotient in it!
Heists are also idea stories and allegories.
Character stories simply mean a character driven stories. Your character sets off to figure out their place in society and they change, rather than the world changing around them. Maybe small parts of the world change as your character interacts with it, but mostly it’s just your character changing. Coming of age stories are a PRIME example of this. And romances are usually Character stories as well.
Event stories deal with worlds in turmoil and problems that arise. Hunger Games. Divergent. 1984. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. All of these are event stories. If you like writing dystopias, then you probably LOVE writing heavily in the Event quotient!
Breaking it down just a little further, I’ll bring up an example.
My Steampunk novel is set in the tower city of Mergatroid (a little bit of Milieu) and my characters are trying to uncover a secret coven of witches who are trying to take over the city and have started to infiltrate the government (the mystery here is a bit of Idea and the changes occurring in government mean that it’s an Event story) while Giselle is dealing with her PTSD from fighting in the wars and River is trying to find her place in the world now that she’s not an heiress. (Character story elements so that the readers get attached to the characters)
That’s how the MICE quotient works!
Putting this into your bullet journal means just having the words and definitions in your journal. I would also take the quote from Orson Scott Card above and put it into your journal.
And put Orson Scott Card’s “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” in your card on Amazon! I’ll link to it! It’s SO GOOD.
Thank you so much for reading with me today, I know this was a long post.
You guys are the best people ever and I’ve loved getting to know you all. Thank you so much for reading my blog and watching the YouTube channel. Take seem time to subscribe to my list and my channel so you know when I go live!
The Ginger Wordsmith 🐙