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This One Tool Can Make Novel Plotting So Much Easier

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Hello everyone! Long time no see! We deeply regret that!

With Camp NaNo on the horizon, many of us are preparing projects to land a win in a less strenuous child of NaNoWriMo.

Planners everywhere know that planning can either drive you absolutely insane or it can be as easy as your grandma’s homemade pie.

Now, to begin, I want everyone to know, I am by no means, a plotter. Not by any means. If given the chance to Write in the Dark (Dean Wesley Smith term) or plotting, I’d write in the dark every time.

However, sometimes I do have to have some general info before diving off into the wild blue yonder. This being the case, I want to introduce a tool that made this so much easier: Trello.

What Is Trello?

Simply put, Trello is the digital version of writing on index cards. It was founded in 2011 by Fog Creek Software but was later sold to the New York based company, Atlassian in 2017.

It makes working with teams incredibly easy when involving large projects with multiple steps.

How Authors Can Use It:

For an author, it can be used in any number of ways:

  1. Front/ Back Matter Layout
  2. Amazon Keywords
  3. Potential Publishers/Agents
  4. Outlining
  5. Characters
  6. Setting
  7. Scene set up
  8. Blurb creation
  9. Alpha Readers
  10. Query Letter Writing
  11. And much more….

Each “card” and “board” can be moved around according to the needs of the author. Meaning, you don’t have to write tons of scenes and work on the floor of your bedroom (unless that’s your thing). More on this a little later.

It also has a mobile app so you can work on any device! How nifty is that?

For more information, Mackenzie Kinkaid made an amazing resource for authors to see how she uses Trello. You can find it here: Trello for Writers.

A Set-Up Example:

When you first sign up and log into Trello, you’re met with a screen that looks like this:

(c) Blaise Ramsay via

This is basically how Blaise uses the program. Each board is used for things like characters (which may or may not include photos), Settings (which isn’t included with this one) and some sort of noting system.

Here, you can see an example of the 3- Act layout, which is actually less of an outline and more of a “beat sheet.” There are still crucial details needing to be filled out. I’ll do a post on this later.

Important stuff — like story premise, theme, Synopsis, blurbs, keywords, target word and chapter count, and back matter — are included here.

Then you have characters — including ARC developments — followed closely by settings (which isn’t included here) and whatever “beat sheet” (if any) you use. Notes are in the form of comments below each Act and character.

Other things (not in this case), you might include are potential publishers, agents, Dedication, Acknowledgements, etc in the boards following the beat sheet.

Every novel is different. Depending on the needs of the story, you might switch up my beat sheets. If you’re a panster like we at FyreSyde are, you might not go into too much detail prior to writing.

We hope this helps! Let me know if you use Trello in your upcoming endeavors. We’d love to see what you think in the comments!

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