Before Draft Zero (Part 1)

The Before Draft Zero Series:


In the years before I was published, plotting wasn’t an issue. I spent my days adding to the manuscript that would one day become FADING AWAY, one chapter at a time. plodding along in order… Ah, how things have changed.

In these past years I have spent a lot of time learning more about my craft and trying to become better at what I do.

So, what DO I do before the infamous Draft Zero?

Here is some screenshots of the work I complete BEFORE plotting.

All of this helps me get a better idea of the story I want to tell and the characters in it.

First off i fill out my compiled list from my readings of John Truby’s, THE ANATOMY OF A STORY.


It should be noted that a book does not get started until I can confidently fill out this entire worksheet beforehand. Things will change during the actual writing of the book, but I should have a fair idea of where I am going to start off with and where I want to end up.

After I’ve safely filled out the above worksheet, it’s on to a chapter breakdown! This is a simple spreadsheet with a dot point or paragraph on each chapter. I only want this to be rough, and mostly vague, as when I get to each chapter I like to break it down further with the knowledge from the last chapter.

A chapter breakdown, to me, is simply taking all those dot-point idea’s I’ve had while thinking over my story (you know, the one’s written in the back of your work notebook, or in the notes section of your phone), and writing them down in a word document. They don’t necessarily have to be in order–not straight away anyway. The purpose of this exercise is to get all the information in one place so we can start building an outline.

Then I sort them in order and place them in my chapter breakdown spreadsheet. See below.

This is pretty self explanatory. While filling my chapter breakdown in, I like to also create a 3 act outline.

The 3 act outline structure and chapter breakdown method was taught to me by a really great friend and mentor Rosiee Thor. Check out her page and buy her future books! She’s amazing <3


Dannielle Wicks

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