Further Reading

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Writing Cheat Sheet


For fiction writers, screenwriters and storytellers.




Plots are covered on page 1, characters on page 2, and lots of tips to fill the whitespace.

I created this just before NaNoWriMo 2011, to combine all my notes on writing and storytelling. It fits all on a double-sided A4 sheet, which you can keep in your back pocket. I hope you find it useful.

Originally it was based on the cheatsheets at Inklicious. I've started detailing other sources, books and sites where you can learn more, below.




v1.01 (2011-10-29): Initial public release

v1.03 (2011-10-31): Removed "Polti's players" and "Polti's objects". Replaced with "Eleven Master Structures (Schmidt)", "Scene and
Sequel (Swain)", "Styles (Duotrope)", expanded Dramatic Situations to include some of Schmidt's variations. More quotes and other minor additions.

v1.04 (2011-10-31): Fixed: "Seven Basic Plots" is missing Voyage and Return. Plus other minor changes.

Lost and found

Polti's Players and Objects

Gathered from descriptions on The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations (Wikipedia). These are no longer on the cheatsheet, as of v1.03:

Polti's Players: (roles)
abducted abductor accomplice adulterers adversary ambitious
arbitrator author-of-mistake authority avenger beloved beloved-
enemy betrayed conspirator creditor criminal culprit deceived
discoverer executioner found fugitive guardian guilty hated hater
hero immortal imprudent inferior interrogator jealous kinsman
leader lover madman malevolent master messenger mistaken
mortal opposition persecutor preferred refusing rejected relative-
of-both rescuer revealer rival sacrificed seeker slain slayer solicitor
spectator spouse superior suppliant supposed threatener tyrant
unfortunate unrecognized vanquished victim victorious-enemy

Polti's objects: cause-of-mistake coveted-thing fatal-passion
ideal jealousy loss misfortune mistake necessity-of-sacrifice
obstacle problem punishment remembrance rivalry sacrifice sin



Story and Plot: Some Books I Referenced

The Hero's Journey / Monomyth
Joseph Campbell

The classic text that everyone refers to.


The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations
Georges Polti


The Seven Basic Plots
Christopher Booker

728 pages. We're told this book took 34 years to write.


Character: More Books I Referenced

Writer's Guide to Character Traits
Dr. Linda Edelstein

Where I found the "Six Virtues" and "Adult Personalities". There's great insights for developing characters in this book.


45 Master Characters
Victoria Schmidt

I'm yet to squeeze these onto the sheet