Writer Resources (Free Tools for Writers): The Three-act Structure Spreadsheet

The Writer’s Toolbox


This is the first year I’m actively participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s daunting, writing 50,000 words in a month, but it’s good to have deadlines.

So, I’ve been gearing up by reviewing three books I’ve read on the craft of writing novels and screenplays and creating a few tools to keep me organized. Really, it’s turned out to be one tool in one spreadsheet.

My Thoughts on Writing Tools

I don’t use tools that require a subscription or upfront chunk of change. This doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. For example, one tool has always intrigued me: Final Draft. It’s for scriptwriting and looks fantastic. One of these days I’ll sign up for the 30-day test-drive. Today is not that day.

For now, I prefer books and simply writing. I find that many of the tools out there are part of the whole resistance thing. What I mean is, there seems to be a propensity among writers to say something like, “I need this tool, or I can’t write.” Not true.

Yes, writers need tools to write: pen and paper; typewriter and paper; keyboard and computer. It’s a limited list I have there, and there’re other tools, but do we really need much more? Not really. And, with the amount of money most writers make, we can’t afford them.

So, onto what I’ve put together. And it’s free.

Craft Books to Read

Three books helped me devise the tool I have linked below. Here are those books:

I’ve mentioned them before. However, what I may not have said is: Read them; you won’t regret it.

The Three-act Structure & Character Cards

This tool may seem a simple thing, but without going into too much detail, it’s the culmination of a lot of work.

My Writer’s Workspace

I’ve posted my character cards before and wrote a post regarding them. Those were meant to be printed on cardstock. I usually link those together with a binder ring. For the three-act structure, I used these notecards for each scene in my novels and posted it on that same corkboard as in the image above of my workspace.

I’ve since made a spreadsheet that contains those character cards and the entire three-act structure I use for my own novels. I’ll still be using the hard-copy version of the character cards and the three-act structure, but I’ve found I think better through a keyboard when it comes to brainstorming: I type way faster than I handwrite.

Today, I’ll simply be posting a link to my Three-act Structure (Template) spreadsheet. Next week, I’ll go over how to use it and what everything means.

My Three-act Structure spreadsheet with character cards

My Next Post

In my next post, well, as I said above, I’ll be going into greater detail related to the spreadsheet I posted. If you’re interested, download the spreadsheet, take a look at what’s in it, and next week I’ll clarify everything.

Feel free to ask questions below or send me an email.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his nearly two decades teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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