Novel Writing Notion Template
With this Notion template, you’ll have all the tools you need to finish your first draft!
I’ve been writing for many years, and it always surprises me how easy it is to lose track of all my notes. With Notion, I was able to finally find a way of organizing that creative mess. The purpose of this template was to create a hub where you could access and organize everything you need to write and edit your novel.
It includes a bunch of pre-made pages to help organize the plotting and brainstorming process, including a place to house your research, collect ideas, and write a plot summary. The main page includes a writing tracker with a daily session template so you can track all of the work you do each day, as well as an outline database with a detailed scene card. There are also databases for characters, settings, factions and objects, all with their own templates, as well as a story inspiration page for collecting playlists and mood boards.
NOTE: This template comes with BOTH versions of the template – the standard width version and the wide width version. You can duplicate both to your Notion workspace or choose the one you prefer.
How to Use this Template
The problem with creating a novel-writing template is that writing a novel is a process unique to each individual and genre. I’ve tried to keep that in mind as I built this template.
I based the bones of this template off of the one I personally use, but I wanted to avoid making it too prescriptive in terms of process, and instead make it a place to organize the abundance of notes you naturally accrue when drafting a novel. Feel free to change and add things to it to make it more functional for you.
There are spaces within the template for you to draft if you want the template to house all of your writing, but you can also draft with your preferred program, and use Notion as a backup tool and a place to organize all your notes and ideas.
The Writing Toolkit
The top of the template has a few blocks for general story information, but more importantly, it houses the writing toolkit, where the bulk of your notes and ideas will be organized and stored.
Starting at the top is the Plot Summary, which has been divided into three acts and provides a place for you to write a brief plot summary that you can refer to while outlining, drafting and editing.
Next up is the Character Database, which includes a basic character sheet template that you can use or you can create one to suit your needs. The one I’ve created includes a place for writing character backstory, skills and flaws, relationships, values and a specific template for creating character arcs, which will be especially useful if you are writing a series where your character will tackle new challenges in each story.
After that, we have the Worldbuilding Database, which functions similarly to the one for the characters. It’s a place for you to store details about any and all worldbuilding elements, and you can divide it by type (included are location, item, group, nature, magic, or event – feel free to add more as necessary) and write a brief description to easily identify when browsing. You can also create connections with other entries in the database, allowing you to “nest” things within each other, like locations. Included in this database are three basic templates: the Setting Template, Faction Template and Object Template.
Next is the Idea Bucket, which is a place for you to store ideas that aren’t “canon”, and it can be themes, character ideas or plot hooks you’re not willing to commit to yet but want to keep hold of. Any you decide not to use can be moved to the Archive.
The Story Inspo page is a place for you to collect anything that inspires you to write this story. You can link a playlist, add songs, mood boards, and anything else you want to include that might help motivate you when you’re starting to lose steam.
Story Research is a section of the toolkit meant to house all of your research so you can easily find it when you need it.
The Revision Notes section is divided into three sections: chapter-by-chapter for your own revision notes, beta feedback for any notes from your beta readers, and finally editor feedback, for any feedback you get from your editor(s).
The Finished Manuscript section is a place for you to back up your drafts, and you can duplicate this section as necessary for each completed version of the draft you make. If you like drafting in Notion, you can also draft in this section directly.
The final piece of the toolkit is the Archive, and this is designed to keep the rest of the template clean and streamlined. Once you no longer need a certain character, or you’ve edited your more recent draft and made a new outline – you can move the things that are no longer necessary to the archive.
The next section is the Writing Tracker, which you can also download separately if you want to use it for more than just one project.
You can set your own target word count goal or time goal, and the template will calculate your remaining time and word count as you update it. It can also calculate your average words per hour.
It includes a daily writing session template so you can set goals for the day and record the details for each writing sprint.
Hidden behind a toggle to keep the dashboard clean and organized, the to-do list is a place for you to dump all of the things you have to do regarding this project. You can limit it to writing tasks, or include things such as cover design and marketing plans.
Keep track of your progress by highlighting certain milestones – a few have been provided with a place to add the date, but feel free to add to this as you like.
The best part of Notion is the databases, and nowhere is that a more powerful tool than when you are working on your Outline. The outline database has tons of properties to clarify all the various pieces of your scenes or chapters, including linking to the worldbuilding and character databases so you can keep track of information and see who shows up where. It also allows you to choose your POV, detail the main plot, any subplots that come into play, and other miscellaneous details that you might want to note, like a piece of backstory being revealed, or a clue that will come into play later.
If you prefer outlining with scenes, you can use the included scene template, and while using the gallery layout, you can click and drag the scene cards around as you see fit. You can also draft within the scene cards themselves if you enjoy drafting in Notion.
There is a property in the outline that will allow you to record the final word count of that particular scene/chapter, and it will add them together at the bottom, so you will always know your current word count.
Finally, there is a template button that will generate a new outline if you decide you want to start over, or you are redrafting and making major structural changes to the plot. You can also click and drag any scenes you want to keep into the new outline and archive the old one when you are done.
I’m a huge fan of Rachael Stephen’s Story Toolkit, in particular the concept of integrating canon – where your brainstormed ideas actually become a part of the draft. This turns brainstorming into something you do as needed, rather than for its own sake (or as a way of procrastinating), and in the actual toolkit, you mark off ideas that have been integrated into your draft, making them canon.
The workbook uses a similar concept. It’s a place for organizing all of your brainstorming notes, and it allows you to contextualize the type of brainstorming with various tags (character, plot, worldbuilding, theme), as well as a checkbox to indicate whether or not you’ve made that idea “canon”. In other words, if you’ve integrated it into your text or not. This can be used while outlining, in the middle of drafting, or in the editing phase as you find any ideas that need to be explored more deeply or any that you need to spend more time with.
If you aren’t interested in using this method, you can also treat it as purely a brainstorming notebook, and mark off notes when you are finished with them (and then drag them into the archive). At the end of the day, how you want to use all the pieces of the template is entirely up to you!
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