template for writing a novel on word

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Book Template: 9 Free Book Layout Templates for Word & More

BY Angelica Hartgers | Mar 14, 2023 | Writing , Design , Printing , Production

Do you need a book template to get started writing your book ? If so, you’ll want to download a book layout template before you start typing up your manuscript. This will save you a ton of wasted effort and formatting issues later on!

Whether you're writing a fiction book or a nonfiction book , you'll want to start writing as quickly as possible to reach your goal of becoming an author .

A book template can help you do just that by saving you time from having to set up your own book file.

Select your book writing software, then you can find a book template that is already set up and formatted to get started writing. Using a book template, you’ll begin writing your book by typing your manuscript directly into your template. Once your book is written and ready for edits and production, the template will come in handy since it’ll already be in a common format and file for you to start the book production and publishing process. 

Even better – the book templates listed in this article are absolutely free. Since self-publishing costs come out of the author's own pocket, it's important to save money where you can, so that you can use that budget to hire professional editors and cover designers .

Here are the top free book templates:

Free fiction & nonfiction templates.

Please note that several of the sites listed here offer book production services. This article does not review the quality of the services provided by these sites, so we aren’t able to provide any endorsement or testament as to whether these companies are good to work with or not. 

Book Templates

Get a nonfiction book outline for your manuscript.

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Get Our 6″ x 9″ Pre-Formatted Book Template for Word or Mac

We will send you a Book Template for US Trade (standard paperback size).

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In this article, we are simply listing the free book template resources that self-published authors can utilize as they write a book.

Reasons to use a book template

Every author has their preference on writing tools, and one that continually tops the chart is Microsoft Word. 

It’s your standard word processor, and while it seems basic, it’s super versatile and easy to use. 

If you don’t need a fancy writing software , or are just getting started as an author on a low budget, Microsoft Word may be your best bet. 

It’s readily available, user-friendly, and has all the nuts and bolts you need (including a powerful editor). 

Ready to find your perfect Microsoft Word book manuscript template? Here we go! 

Here's 5 reasons why you should use a book template to write your book:

If you don't want to fuss with setting up a book template in Word, or want more variety in templates to chose from, consider downloading a pre-made book template for Word.

There are several sites that offer free downloadable book templates, and they are already set-up and formatted specifically for writing a book . You can download the template, then open it in Word, and get to writing!

These sites offer free, downloadable book templates for Microsoft Word .

If you're writing a book and need a template to help you organize your chapters, content, and format, then we have a book template for you!

When writing a book, templates are helpful to keep you on track and plan for which content your book needs to include.

Here's where you can download a free template for book writing:

KDP Free Paperback Manuscript Templates

For a basic manuscript template, use these free book layout templates from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). 

Download them here .

If you plan to publish your eBook to KDP, these templates will work just fine. They are available in all of the common standard book sizes. 

Download blank templates, or pre-filled templates with sample content, if you want to have an overall example of how a book will appear with the template. 

Kdp Book Layout Template

If you need a book template for Word in a language other than English, these templates will be helpful as they are available in a variety of different languages. 

Once you download the files, a .zip folder will appear on your computer. Once you unzip the file, you will then see zipped folders for each language.

You can unzip the folder in the language you need, which will give you access to the various size book templates.

BookBaby Free Book Template

With several different sizes to choose from, BookBaby offers a variety of book layout templates depending on the type of book you are writing. 

From standard book sizes to niche-specific sizing options, you’ll want to be clear on which type of book template size you need for your story. 

The common standard sizing for most printed books is the US Trade 6” x 9” which is listed under the Interior Text Templates category. 

Bookbaby Book Template Sizes Chart

Once you find the correct size for your book, you can download the free book layout template by clicking the orange “Download” button underneath the corresponding size. 

The .zip file will then download to your computer, and it contains the template file. Once you unzip the file, you can then open the Word book template (it will be the file that ends in “.doc”). 

If you need additional instructions, BookBaby offers some helpful information in the “Using Our Templates” section. You can check out their specifications, and even download their Book Printing Preparation Checklist PDF. 

Bookbaby Template Instructions

DiggyPOD Free Book Template for Word

A book printing company, DiggyPOD offers free book layout templates for your book interior and exterior. While the sizes offered aren’t as extensive as some, you can find the most common sizes for book printing available. 

If you’re just getting started with writing your book, download the interior template. 

If you’ve already written your book, you can use the resources on the page to create your own book template for your typed manuscript. 

Book Template For Word Sizes

DIYBookFormats Free Templates 

This site offers 5 free minimal book layout templates that you can use with a variety of programs , Word included.

These templates offer different designs, not just your standard text and format options. While you can access five templates for free, any additional access to other styles will have to be purchased.

Book Template

You’ll also have to do some extra clicking and typing to access these manuscript templates (unlike some of the other sites listed in this article).

The free book templates are a gated offer, which means you will have to provide your email address , and then the templates are sent directly to your inbox. 

Once you download the .zip file, you’ll want to unzip it. Then, you can open the folder for each styled template, and select the file you need. If you are using Word, you’ll want to click on the .doc or .docx file, depending on which Word version you are using.

The site also provides some helpful tutorial videos on how to format your book in Microsoft Word, if you want to skip the template and do it all yourself. 

48HrBooks Word Templates

This site offers four of the most common standard book sizing options available – no email required. Perfect for use if you haven’t started typing your story yet, these Microsoft Word book manuscript templates are straight and to the point. 

To begin your download, look under the “Free Book Templates” heading, and scroll down to the “Inside Pages” option. You can then click on the book icon for the corresponding size you need, and the file will begin downloading automatically.

Book Template Inside Pages Chart

If you need further instructions, there is also a handy PDF that you can download with more info. 

BookPrintingUK Template Generator

Featuring an easy-to-use design, this responsive template generator is great if you know the specifics of your book’s layout, such as binding and size. 

You can start by selecting which program you are using to write your book, and Microsoft Word is the first option you can select. 

You’ll need to know the document type needed, the book option, template size, color (if applicable), and orientation to generate your template. 

Template Generator Instructions

One thing to note is that this site is for UK book printing, so it will be UK sizing. However, you can always look up the US equivalent with a quick Google search, if needed.

UsedtoTech Free Word Book Template

A simple, clean design, this free Word book template is specifically for the standard 6” x 9” book , which is the most common book size for printed paperbacks. 

To download, you’ll need to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “Download” button. This will prompt the download of the .zip file to start automatically. 

Unzip the file, then select the file that ends in “.docx” or, if you need to, you can download the .pdf file. 

This book template for Word features a minimal design, and is free – no email required! 

Free Template Book Template Download Instructions

Book Template Outline Generator

If you need a done-for-you book outline to fill in your book's contents into, consider using a pre-made outline for your nonfiction or fiction book.

This is not a print-ready format for your book, but an actual outline to organize your manuscript.

Use this Book Outline Generator to select your genre and immediately get access to complete outline – all you need to do is add your content!

Outline Book Template

Once you choose your book type and generate an outline, you'll get access to a done-for-you book template in Google Docs . You then follow the steps in the document to get started.

Can I write a book in Microsoft Word?

Yes, you can write a book in Microsoft Word, and it may even help you write your book faster and increase your writing focus, since you can save time formatting and setting up your book layout. You can write a book in Word by downloading a free book template, by using the standard book template Word offers, or by setting up your own (which is more time-consuming).

Because Word is a flexible word processing system, you can simply use a book template within Word, and start typing your book directly onto the page.

Even if you don't use a book template, you can still write a book using Microsoft Word – just be aware that you may have to spend more time formatting your book when it's time to publish it .

How to write a book in Microsoft Word

To write a book in Microsoft Word, simply download a free book template, open the file, and start typing your manuscript into the template. 

You’ll want to be sure that you download a book template that is formatted specifically for Word, and all of the sites listed in this article offer Word templates. 

Once your template is downloaded, you can then open it on your computer, and make any modifications as needed. 

Then, you can start typing your manuscript directly into your Word template. That’s it! 

You don’t need a fancy template to start with ; you can simply make do with the free templates that are available for download on these sites. However, if you want to purchase a template, there are some paid book templates that you can buy if you choose to. 

Here are the steps to write a book in Microsoft Word:

#1 – Step 1: Download a Microsoft Word book template (more instructions on this below)

#2 – Step 2: Open Microsoft Word on your computer and click “File” then navigate to “Open.” Select your book template file.

#3 – Step 3: Your book template file will open and appear on the screen. You can now start typing your text directly into Word.

#4 – Step 4: Click “Save” often throughout your writing process, and before you exit the Word application.

Does Word have a book template?

Yes, Microsoft Word offers several templates within the application, including book templates to choose from. Different sizes and formats are offered, depending on the type of book you are writing.

All of the available book templates are customizable and editable, which means you can tailor the template to fit any specific requirements you need for your book.

To access the standard book template in Word, follow these steps:

How do I make a book template in Word?

If you prefer to make a book template in Word that is customized to fit your specific writing needs, then there's an easy way to do this, too.

Microsoft Word is a versatile word processing tool that's relatively easy to learn and super customizable. You can make a variety of projects, including a novel or book template with a little learning and direction.

The key is to start simple with one of the pre-made templates in Word, then format and customize the book layout to fit your needs.

Please keep in mind that depending on the Microsoft Word version your computer or laptop has, the step-by-step instructions may vary, since older or newer versions may have different menu items, names, or placements.

Here are the steps to make a book template in Word:

How many Microsoft Word pages equal a book page?

As you start writing in your book template, you can easily track the word count. But, that doesn't necessarily tell you how many actual “book pages” you have typed up.

Depending on how you like to track your progress, it might be helpful to know how many Microsoft Word pages equal a book page. While this will vary depending on your book's genre and writing style (some authors are more wordy than others), there is a rough ballpark range you can use.

Determine what your book's word count goal should be

First, we recommend determining how many words your book should be. You can use this Word & Page Count Calculator to plug calculate how many words you should aim for as you write your book. It calculates the word count depending on your book's type, genre, audience.

Use the Word Count tool in Microsoft Word

As you write, it's important to keep track of how many actual words you are writing. Word has an easy tool that makes it super simple to keep count, and it updates in real time.

Again, depending on your version of Word, there may be a different way to access the Word Count tool, but you can play around with it a bit – it almost always will be in the “Tool” menu.

Here's how to track your book's the Word Count in Word:

Determine how many Word pages equals one book page

Once you have determined your writing word count goal, and know how to easily track how many words you've written using the Word Count tool, the next step is to figure out how many Word pages equal one book page.

To do this, you will first need to understand that there will not be a direct correlation. In other words, there isn't an easy, super accurate answer. The reason for this is because it will depend on your finished book's page size.

A standard US paperback novel is typically printed as a 6 in. x 9 in. book, but it can be printed in a variety of other sizes depending on your book size.

Your book page in Word will be the standard paper size of 8.5 in. x 11 in. Therefore, the variance in size between the Word book template and your finalized printed book means there isn't an exact equivalence.

Generally, a paperback novel in the standard print size can contain about 250-300 words per page. In Microsoft Word, one page in the standard size and 12-point font will be about 500-550 words per page.

So, a rough estimate is that 2 paperback printed pages will equal 1 Microsoft Word page, more or less. Please note that this is a very rough estimate, with several variables involved.

The only way to find an exact correlation is to set your Word document up to be the same size as your finalized printed book. So, you could set your word document up to be 6 in. x 9 in. However, there will still be some variance due to margins, printed text size and typeface, paragraphs, etc.

The best thing is to just go by your desired Word count and worry about the printed pages later. Focus on getting your story out, and the rest will follow suit once you get there!

Start typing your manuscript into the book template

Once you find your perfect Microsoft Word book manuscript template, you’ll be ready to start typing up your book! 

Achieve your writing goals by committing to writing each and every day. Find a fellow author friend to make yourself accountable, or attend a writing conference to drive urgency for your writing career.

Once your manuscript is typed and self-edited, you can start the editing and production process to get your book published and into the hands of readers!

When you're ready to write a new book, you can use the same book template, or make your own!

Which book templates did you find the most useful?

Need some help along the way as you self publish?

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Angelica Hartgers

template for writing a novel on word

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How to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word

by Sarah Gribble | 0 comments

If you want to write a book, you'll need book writing software that's up to the task. Yes, you can invest in dedicated book writing programs. But you don't have to: a great writing tool is likely already at your fingertips, if you know how to write a book using Microsoft Word.

How to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word

There's a lot of book writing software out there. Many of these programs claim to offer intuitive use, help with organization, and even say they’ll keep you from distraction. The options can be overwhelming.

There’s still one tried and true option if you’re not interested in all that (or can’t afford the fancier programs): Microsoft Word.

I write most of my books in Microsoft Word , not to mention short stories. Here’s the rundown of how to write a book using Microsoft Word, and why that might be your best choice.

The Benefits of Microsoft Word for Book Writing

You most likely already have it. And so does everybody else. Word is the standard, accepted across platforms, and is easy to access for non-writers (your beta readers). It’s been around forever, so most people know how to use it.

There are book formatting templates. A ton of them. They have them for short story format and for manuscript format. Personally, I don’t use those templates, but they’re a nice baseline for beginners, or even old hats that just want to hurry up and write without setting up their document first.

It’s simple and uncluttered. There are a ton of apps and programs out there that will allow you to keep your plot structure notes close at hand, to rearrange your chapters with the click of a button, and to keep detailed character profiles right in the program. That’s all a little too much for me. I prefer handwritten notes and nothing else blocking my screen while I’m typing and Word gives me that.

It is worth noting that if all that sounds appealing to you, you can do those things in Word as well, it just won’t be as fancy as other programs.

How to Navigate Your Book in Microsoft Word

When you have a 90,000-word manuscript, navigating becomes daunting . Luckily there are ways to do it in Word that make it easier if you know where to look.

Chapter Headings

Word doesn’t divide your book into chapters for you like some other programs. There will be no easy way to click and drag to rearrange chapters.

What I recommend is using headings. On Word’s Home page, there are already standard headings listed. Definitely mess with them and change their formatting to something simple.

No one needs giant blue words as their chapter headings. (You can set your simpler formatting as your default style as well, so you don’t have to change it every time.)

Make the title or number of each chapter a heading. Then you can easily bounce around to different chapters through the navigation pane (check the Navigation Pane box under the View menu).

These basically work the same way as headings, but they’re for anywhere in your document. Have a specific scene you need to do more research on? You can bookmark it and jump back to it later.

Bookmark by going to the Insert menu and clicking Bookmark. Name your bookmark and voilà. You can delete them easily from the popup menu as well.

Find and Replace

CTRL+F brings up a simple search option to find words and phrases in your document. CTRL+H brings up the full gambit. From that dialogue box, you can search, replace certain words with others (i.e. Jennifer now becomes Julia all through the manuscript), and go to any page, section, heading, bookmark, etc. that you need to go to.

Microsoft Word is Great for Editing Your Book

Word has a ton of options for editing your story , including comments, tracking changes, and comparing documents. All of these are under the Review menu.

I use the comments feature to make notes to myself where I need to recheck facts or add description later. It’s easy to navigate through the comments with the search feature or the buttons under the Review menu. Don’t forget to remove them all before saving your document as a PDF or sending it off to an editor.

Tracking changes is awesome and a lot of editors (for short stories anyway) will use this feature to collaborate with you during the editing process. You can accept or reject changes or even revert back to the original.

Finally, make sure you have grammar and spellcheck on! Grammar check even allows you to check style issues (like how to use an ellipsis correctly ) and passive voice . It’s invaluable.

Pro tip: To keep you on track while you’re writing, turn off some of the more fine-tuning features of grammar check. There’s nothing that will ruin your flow more than a bunch of underlining you feel like you need to take care of immediately. I recommend running the full check when you’re done (or at least done for the day).

Formatting Your Book in Microsoft Word

Make sure you’re familiar with standard manuscript format for novels and formatting short stories . Take a look at those links and follow their instructions. You don’t want to get rejected out of hand because you tried some weird formatting that’s hard to look at.

One of the biggest gripes I see from editors is writers using spaces to indent paragraphs. Don’t do this. It makes it super hard on them when they’re putting a book together. Instead, use the ruler in Word (under the View menu) or the paragraph settings (under the Home menu) to adjust your tabs. A half inch is standard.

Despite what most of us were taught in school, the standard is now one space after periods, not two. This is another sticking point with editors, so don’t do it. If you’re used to two, there’s a grammar check feature in Word you can turn on to highlight every time you use two spaces.

Finally, use the page break option to break for a new chapter, not enter or a million spaces. You can find the page break under the Insert menu.

Pro tip: When in doubt about your formatting, you can turn on the Show/Hide option under the Home menu (looks like a paragraph symbol) to see all your formatting symbols.

Now That You've Mastered Microsoft Word, Go Write Your Book

Don’t let choosing writing software stagnant your writing. Don’t overthink it. You don’t need to keep up with the Joneses with the latest writing technology that’s trotted out on tech forums and in writing chats.

The important thing about writing a book is actually writing it . No fancy book writing software is going to help you with that.

So get writing!

Ever used Word to write a book? Do you have any more tips for how to write a book using Word? Let me know in the comments !

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Sarah Gribble

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How to Plot and Write a Novel With 12 Free Templates & Worksheets

Writing your first novel can be daunting. That's where these free novel-writing templates and worksheets can prove handy.

Writing your first novel can be more daunting in life than actually putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. The untouched page is a frank sign of how much work there is to do.

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott explains the writer's dilemma:

You are desperate to communicate, to edify and entertain...to make real or imagined events come alive. But you cannot will this to happen. It is a matter of persistence and faith and hard work. So you might as well just go ahead and get started.

Yet getting started is easier once you've done some initial prep work on your story; its structure, characters, and how on earth you're going to get this thing out of your head.

That's where these free novel-writing templates and worksheets prove handy.

1. Story Premise Worksheet

This worksheet from Evernote is a simple way to outline the main characters, plot themes, events, and conflicts within your story. By teasing them out of your mind and onto a worksheet like this, you'll be able to plot the broad story arc.

Remember to keep your descriptions specific and concise. This isn't meant to be an entire plot description.

If you're an Evernote fan, there are plenty of other Evernote templates you can use . But if you don't use Evernote, this worksheet can easily be replicated in other programs, or on a sheet of paper.

2. Character Basic Info Worksheet

This straightforward worksheet from The Novel Factory helps you to pad out your main characters. You'll find yourself adding to, and referring back to this info, time and again as your character develops.

If you want to flesh out your characters in more detail, you could download the accompanying Character Development Worksheet and Character Voice Worksheet .

3. The One Page Novel Plot Spreadsheet

If you're looking for a more linear approach to plan your novel, this spreadsheet from EA Deverell is especially useful. This customizable resource allows you to break down and describe each of your scenes so that you have a concrete plot before you start writing.

To start using this spreadsheet, open it up, click File then Make a Copy.

4. Freytag Novel Planning Worksheet

The Freytag method of planning out your novel sits somewhere between vague and extremely detailed. If that sounds like the approach you'd like to take, complete this worksheet from Duolit .

The model covers all essentials, without going overboard on planning. From the introduction of characters, through to rising action, and to the final resolution of your story.

5. Setting Worksheet

This PDF from The Writers Craft will help you to flesh out important scenes before writing them out in your first draft.

With this worksheet, you'll paint a detailed picture of an individual scene from your main character's viewpoints. You'll explore the sights, sounds, and smells of the situation to develop a vivid idea of what it is that you need to portray.

6. At a Glance Outline

Writer's Digest has a number of useful writing worksheets aimed at helping writers pen the first draft in 30 days. One of the most useful of these templates is the At-a-Glance Outline. This worksheet helps you to fill in any gaps and plot holes in your story before you come across them in the middle of your draft.

Working your way through this worksheet may be difficult at first, but when it comes to writing your novel, it'll make things a whole lot easier.

7. Choose Your Perspective Flowchart

This simple flowchart from Duolit will help you to figure out what perspective and tense you'll be writing in. This is an often overlooked part of writing a novel, so having this pinned down early on will give you a good advantage.

8. Chapter and Scene Breakdown

Another template from Evernote, this chapter and scene breakdown can easily be replicated in whichever program you prefer to use. Once you've planned out your novel in more detail, quickly creating a breakdown like this is useful for easy reference.

This will save you time searching through your notes when you're in the writing "flow".

9. Climax Sketch

Another great worksheet from Writer's Digest is their Climax Sketch PDF. This is where you will plan out the climax of your novel, "the point where the protagonist faces the conflict directly, with his goal on the line".

It's important you get this part of your story right, so spend some time on this to make it compelling.

10. Infographic: 10 Ways to End Your Novel

Technically, it's not a template or a worksheet, but given that figuring out how to end your novel will be one of the biggest challenges you face, this infographic is extremely valuable.

By knowing about the different ways in which you can draw your story to a close, you may well be able to improve your writing  and introduce more interesting plot twists and character development than you might have otherwise.

11. Scrivener Story Structure Template

There are plenty of programs for creative writers , but Scrivener is arguably one of the best. Case in point: this seriously detailed Scrivener template for outlining and structuring your novel covers everything you could imagine.

From character arcs, premises, abbreviated outlines, and character details, to props, areas for worldbuilding, planning out a series, and more.

If you're using Scrivener (30-day free trial available) to write your novel, this free template is certainly worth checking out.

Other Scrivener templates you might want to try are:

12. Microsoft Word Novel Templates

These five free Microsoft Word book templates from DIY Book Formats (email registration required) are of high quality. And what's more, they'll save you tons of time wrestling with document formatting when you could be writing.

Each template includes paragraph and header styling, a cover page, footers, and page numbers, and comes in PDF, DOC, DOCX, and INDD (InDesign) filetypes.

For Google Docs Users: The DOC and DOCX files included in this collection can also be uploaded and used on Google Docs . You may have to slightly tweak line spacing, etc. but most of the formatting is retained.

Start Writing

By the time you've worked through a few of the worksheets included in this article, you'll be in a much better position to finally put pen to paper and become the writer you always wanted to be.

And who knows? After a few rounds of edits, you may even be ready to finally publish your ebook , and get your story printed so you can enjoy the pride that comes with having a physical copy of your work in hand.

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How to Create a Book in Microsoft Word

template for writing a novel on word

Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese. Read more...

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Microsoft Word comes with pre-built page settings for creating books. Whether you’re creating a memoir or event guide, these settings let you create a beautiful book or booklet, from start to finish.

Create a Book or Booklet

First, go ahead and open Word. It’s recommended that you adjust these setting before writing the content of your book to prevent formatting issues late on.

Once you’re in Word, head over to the “Layout” tab. In the “Page Setup” group, click the small arrow at the bottom-right.

template for writing a novel on word

This opens the “Page Setup” window, where you will automatically be on the “Margin” tab. In the “Margins” group, you’re able to set the margins of the page. By default, the “Gutter” margin will be set to 0. This could cause issues further on, as the gutter margin is the amount of space between the content of your book and the fold where the pages of the book will be bound together. That said, go ahead and give the gutter a 1” margin, so the content of your book doesn’t get lost in the fold.

Page Setup Margins

Next, select the arrow next to “Multiple Pages” in the “Pages” group, then select “Book Fold” from the drop-down menu. Once selected, you’ll notice your page orientation automatically changes from “Portrait” to “Landscape.”

Tip: You may notice a “Reverse Book Fold” option. This is for content that reads from right to left, such as Japanese-style books.

Once you’ve adjusted the settings, click “OK.”

The page setup for creating a book or booklet is now complete. There’s a ton of stuff you can do from here depending on what you require for your book. You may want to add a header or footer , create a table of contents, or give your book page numbers for easier navigation. We’ll leave the content and add-ons to you—we’re just here to show you how to create the setup.

It’s also worth noting that, depending on the length of your document, you may need to split it up into multiple booklets due to the sheer size of the document. That’s fine—you can bind them into one book later.

RELATED: How to Reduce the Size of a Microsoft Word Document

Print Your Book or Booklet

Once you’ve finished composing your book, it’s time for printing. Select the “File” tab, then select “Print” found in the left-hand pane.

Print option in left-hand pane

Next, select the second option in the “Settings” group.

second option in settings group

A drop-down menu will appear, presenting a few different printing-style options. If you have a duplex printer, select (1) “Print on Both Sides” (and whether or not to flip the page on the long or short edge). If your printer doesn’t have this functionality, you’ll need to select the (2) “Manually Print on Both Sides” option.

printing options

All that’s left to do now is select Print, and you’re good to go!

template for writing a novel on word

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Last updated on Dec 09, 2022

Book Writing Templates: A Writer’s Secret Weapon [Download]

No matter what level of experience you have as an author, you can always use a little help to get your manuscript off the ground. Book writing templates are tools that authors can leverage to fuel their progress: from brainstorming characters, to worldbuilding, to structuring a story, templates can help you make sure you start off on the right foot. 

The goal of using a template is not to make cookie-cutter novels, but rather to better shape your book idea into a unique story. If you’re keen to receive a little help, here are 10 different types of book writing templates you can use to sketch out your stories.

Download: Reedsy's top writing templates

Sign up below to receive all ten book writing templates featured in this post (or continue reading to download individual templates).


The Top 10 Book Writing Templates

Use these to develop your characters, outline your plot, and write your book.

Or if you'd like to build your story directly in a writing app, we recommend using the free Reedsy Book Editor. Simply create your account with one click below and start outlining with the pre-made story templates — right away!  

template for writing a novel on word


The Reedsy Book Editor

Use the Boards feature to plan, organize, or research anything.

Developing an idea

The most fundamental type of book template concerns concept development. Think of book ideas as seeds: not all of them have the potential to become a great big oak — but some do. 

1. Book Development Template

To help you determine if your idea is 'fertile' enough, we've made a book development template designed to test the waters.

A book development template example

Our seven-part book development template will guide you step-by-step in nailing down your protagonist, supporting characters, antagonists, as well as your worldbuilding and plot structure. If that wasn’t enough, it will also help you pick your voice and point of view .

In other words, it will help you germinate that idea into a sapling that will eventually become your first draft. To download this specific template, insert your email below — or sign up above to receive all templates.

template for writing a novel on word


Get our Book Development Template

Use this template to go from a vague idea to a solid plan for a first draft.

Structuring your narrative

Once you have a great story idea, you need to actually put it down on paper (or in a book editor , but paper sounds better, doesn’t it?). Many authors write when  inspiration strikes, following their intuition for chapters on end without a plan. While this approach might be powerful to get things going, it can be useful to think about how to structure your novel early on in the writing process to avoid running into plot holes and writing yourself into a corner.  

Luckily, in literature there are a few common story structures every author can refer to when plotting, starting with the most popular of them all 一 the Three-Act structure. 

2. Three-Act Structure Template

Originally defined by Aristotle two thousands years ago, the Three-Act structure divides a story in a beginning, middle, and end. This method is one of the most commonly used when plotting novels, as it provides a basic skeleton for your story that ensures all your plot points are in place, building tension and stakes until the climax and resolution.

To download this specific template, insert your email below — or sign up above to receive all templates.

Free Download: Three-Act Structure Template

Effortlessly plot your story with our customizable template. Enter your email, and we'll send it to you right away.

By dissecting the story in three parts of equal importance, you’ll be able to create a strong narrative that keeps readers hooked from start to finish. You can print out the template or edit it online 一 for each section you’ll be asked to write a synopsis of what happens in the story, and a specific example of it. 

3. Hero’s Journey Template

Another, more hands-on take on the Three-Act structure is the Hero’s Journey , which focuses on the transformation of a single protagonist. Divided in twelve distinct phases, it helps you deconstruct your protagonist's journey, from the initial call to adventure to the return home as a changed person.   

A hero's journey template example

Our template will help you write down a short synopsis about important story elements, such as: 

These timeless elements have been used in countless stories, from Biblical tales to Star Wars , and will give you creative freedom while ensuring your narrative stays on track. To download this specific template, insert your email below — or sign up above to receive all templates.

Free Download: Hero's Journey Template

4. save the cat beat sheet.

If you have trouble figuring out your list of scenes, you can get more granular with the Save the Cat template, which tells you exactly what should happen on what page. Originally developed for screenwriters, it has been widely adopted by novelists to plan their stories with theme, character development, and pacing in mind.

A Save the Cat Beat Sheet template example

The Save the Cat template builds upon the classic Three-Act structure, but further dividing a story into 15 beats that tell you when the inciting accident, subplots, and other key elements should happen. In our template, you can simply enter your target word count and it'll tell you exactly when and for how long each beat should last, so that your story doesn't lag in places where it should be motoring along.

Free Download: The Beat Sheet template

You’ll get it in your email inbox right afterward.

Outlining your story

Once you have defined your larger story structure and developed your idea, you can use a book template to go in scene by scene and keep track of the main plot and subplots, and how they fit into your book’s overall timeline.

5. Book Outline Template

Save it in your Google Sheets, edit it, move scenes around, and tweak it until you’re satisfied with the narrative flow.   

A book outlining template example

Depending on your preference, our book outline templates includes three exercises that can help you create:

Free Download: Book Outline template

You'll get it in your email inbox right afterward.

Building the world of your book

Apart from large-picture templates, some templates can help with specific aspects of your stories, like creating a fictional world from scratch 一 from your world’s history, to geography, to technology and more. 

A worldbuilding template example

6. Worldbuilding Template

If you’re a fantasy or sci-fi writer, or you simply want to go deep with your worldbuilding , use our 7-part template to establish aspects such as: 

If you struggle to piece together all of your world’s features, this template is for you 一 print it out and spend some time with it. This will help you map the environment to the point where it feels like a real place, and you can better communicate it to your readers. To download this specific template, insert your email below — or sign up above to receive all templates.

template for writing a novel on word

The Ultimate Worldbuilding Template

130 questions to help create a world readers want to visit again and again.

Creating compelling characters

Since characters are the heart of any story, it’s important to sculpt them to the smallest detail. To help you create remarkable characters, we made two separate templates: one to thoroughly define who they are, and one to test their boundaries in hypothetical scenarios. 

7. Character Profile Template

Similarly to building a world from scratch, developing an identity is not an easy task. After all, think about yourself: how long did it take you to become the person you are today? As many years as you’re old. So, how do you replicate that same process not just for one, but multiple protagonists 一 so that they feel like someone you could bump into in real life? Well, you can start by creating a detailed profile. 

A character profile template example

For each major character in your novel, you can print and fill out our character profile template. It will guide you step-by-step in detailing your character’s features, such as: 

The template may start with superficial traits such as appearances, but then it urges you to also look beneath the skin. So, take the time to ponder over each of the sections to give yourself the chance to create truly compelling characters that readers will resonate with. 

template for writing a novel on word

Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

8. Character Questionnaire 

A character questionnaire template example

Reedsy’s Character Questionnaire

40 questions to help you develop memorable characters.

Formatting your manuscript to professional standards

Not all book templates concern the writing aspect of authorship. Some are just useful to format your manuscript in a way that adheres to industry standards before you send out your query letters . 

9. Manuscript Format Template

While content matters more than how it’s presented, literary agents and publishers still expect you to present a professionally formatted manuscript. To help you not stand out for the wrong reason, you can use Reedsy’s manuscript format template. 

A manuscript formatting template example

You just need to download a copy and edit it, either by writing directly in it, or copy-pasting (without formatting) the content of your novel.  Again, if you want to download this specific template, insert your email below — or sign up above to receive all templates. 

template for writing a novel on word

Manuscript Format Template

Get your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers.

10. Children's Book Manuscript Template

If you’re writing a children’s book, there are slightly different formatting rules you need to be aware of 一 for example if you’re writing in verse or adding illustration notes. Whether you’re submitting to traditional publishers or self-publishing your children’s book , you can use our template to get professional results. Again, you’ll just need to download a copy and edit it without changing the formatting. 

Free Download: Children's Book Manuscript Template

Enter your email address and get your copy right away.

We hope that these templates will help you quickly test your story idea, and develop it into a solid draft. They'll hopefully serve as the framework for your wild imagination. It’s time to get writing .

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12 Best Novel Outline Templates to Structure Your Story

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Table of contents.

Are you ready to overcome writer’s block with a book outline template?

Let me preface this by saying that while this article is about book outline templates, it’s not a “this is how we do it” article. Not everyone needs a novel outline template for their book road map, but they do help.

Like books, authors and their writing styles are unique and numerous. Even basic things like the programs we use to write in can be diverse. Many prefer to write using a word processor, whether paid or free. Others prefer to use something like Scrivener or Squibler.

Having said that, many new writers are overwhelmed by the writing process and aren’t sure how to write a book. For that reason, templates can help them get started. Even seasoned authors can find templates helpful, too.

Some simply prefer to write from an outline .

Benefits of Using a Novel Outline Template

Despite your writing style and whether or not you’re an author who typically relies on a book outline template, it’s probably safe to say there are times you might wish you had one. Maybe.

I should note there are a few definitive cases for having at least a loose outline of your book. Even those who hate to outline will agree to this.

There are times you start a book and for some reason, you put it aside. Maybe you have another story burning to be told. Maybe you had to deal with sickness, your own or a loved one’s. Your mind map of your book disappear, and you feel the need to start fresh.

Assuming you don’t have total recall, after months—or perhaps years—do you remember your story? It’s plot and all its details? Or have you completely lost its thread? If you have an outline, it doesn’t matter what you’ve forgotten.

Perhaps you’re intent on having your books traditionally published. If so, agents and publishers will often request a synopsis of your book.

Imagine this. The publisher you’re interested in requires a query letter, three chapters, and a synopsis. I know several authors, myself included at times, who would only have those first three chapters written.

Back when I started writing—this hasn’t changed, by the way—you could wait for months to hear back from a given publisher and depending on how quickly you wrote that was plenty of time to finish the book. Or at least motivate you to write faster. But you had to write your synopsis first.

That’s much easier to do if you have a detailed outline in place already.

Templates and outlines might be especially useful to writers new to a genre. Some genres have very specific structures and arcs that need to be developed and followed. For example, if you’re thinking about writing a romance novel you need to meet reader expectations. An outline could help you meet them.

Let’s recap some reasons why templates or outlines may be good for some:

Which Novel Outline Template is the Right One for You?

The following is by no means a comprehensive list, but I’ve culled a fair selection. So no matter what you write, from academic treatises to screenplays, there should be something for you.

Also, note that book outlines are known by different names. Depending on the genre, they might be called beat sheets or something else, but they all serve the same purpose.

Since I’ve mentioned romance, let’s start there.

1. Squibler – Romancing the Beat Template

template for writing a novel on word

What makes a romance novel a romance novel? Just a bunch of lovey-dovey stuff, right? A couple makes eye contact, they fall in love, the end.

There is a very specific romantic arc that needs to be followed for a book to be a true romance novel.  And the overall plot or arc of the story needs to be wound around the romantic arc.

Sound confusing?

That’s why using a romance beat sheet is so popular.

From the introduction of your main characters, through the meet cute—when and where they first connect—to all the reasons why they shouldn’t and couldn’t fall in love. To the maybe this could work, the this will never work, and finally happily ever after.

And that wasn’t all the points in the arc that need to be addressed.

The beats are broken out and provide you with sections like:

Since this is a romance, you know it doesn’t end with a breakup.

If you’re new to writing romance, you may have an easier time at it when using a novel outline. Specifically, a romance novel outline.

If Scrivener isn’t your thing, Gwen does offer an outline in PDF format for anyone who joins her mailing list.

Regardless of format, this outline is based on Gwen’s book of the same name.

Key takeaways:

2. Scrivener – Romance Template

template for writing a novel on word

The second book outline template on our list that focuses on romance is courtesy of Jami Gold .

While it will ultimately get you to the same place as Romancing the Beat above, these romance authors each approach things in their own unique way.

From a pure romance standpoint, Gwen’s outline might be easier for some to follow.

Remember the two arcs I mentioned above? The romantic arc and the story arc? Jami separates out the two arcs. From Martha Alderson’s The Plot Whisperer , she uses beats and terminology that play to the plot or story arc. They don’t deal with the character’s inner struggles and journey, which is central to a romance novel.

The advantage to you?

You can focus on the romance arc—the developing relationship between your main characters.

Some of the sections of the template are:

If you don’t own or are still trying to learn how to use Scrivener , you can still follow Jami’s outline. She also has it available for free download in Excel format. Even better, it has the functionality to track your word count too.

If you’re still learning how to write a book and you’re contemplating writing romance, why not see what the Romance Writers of America has to say about the genre.

3. Scrivener – The Great American Novel Template

template for writing a novel on word

This is a Scrivener template created by Michael O’Bryan .

His stated purpose is to help with the writing process itself. Or at least give you a vehicle to help you get together everything you need in order to write your book.

He provides an Idea Creation section that has even more templates based on some of his favorite methods and formats, like the Snowflake Method or Truby’s Anatomy of Story .

The Great American Novel template provides lots of ways for organizing your writing project including folders and color coding.

You have folders for:

He also includes what he calls an Obsolete Files folder, which I think is an excellent idea. This folder acts as a repository for ideas you may have had and discarded, revisions, drafts, and so forth. These are maintained on the off chance you may need or want to readdress them for some reason. Which you can’t do if you have deleted all these files.

Have you started writing your own Great American Novel several times? Perhaps using this template would help you to finally finish it.

4. Squibler – The 30 Chapter Novel Template

This book template is courtesy of Damien Benoit-Ledoux .

template for writing a novel on word

This is a very clean, well laid out outline for a book. Each of the 30 chapters has a purpose, basically taking you by the hand and leading you through the creation of your masterpiece. At a very basic level, it can teach you how to write a novel.

You won’t be leading your readers in confusing circles.

To give you an idea, the outline starts off with the following chapters:

And continues on to chapter 30.

You will also find some of the typical ancillary templates and folders for things like character sketches, historical events, objects, and back matter.

For those without Scrivener, there is a Word document version of the template as well.

5. Scrivener – The Hero’s Journey

template for writing a novel on word

Got an epic story to tell?

This book outline template is based on Joseph Campbell’s theory that all stories are based on the foundation of a single story. This conclusion is reached due to an observation that there exists a common pattern in the narrative elements of nearly all great myths.

Mel Corbett wove that theory in with her own personal notes on The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler to give us the Hero’s Journey Scrivener template .

Using this template or outline will help you create and clarify conflict and enable you to keep your characters moving forward on pace.

You probably know this outline without even being aware of it. Many of today’s blockbusters are built on this plot pattern or outline.

To name a few you’re likely familiar with:

You’ve heard of one or two of those, right?

The template takes you through 3 key stages:

You also have folders for:

6. Scrivener – K.M. Weiland Template

template for writing a novel on word

An author of historical and speculative fiction, K.M. Weiland is also the author behind several books around the outline and structure of novels. The initial version of the book outline template that bears her name was created by one of her readers, one Stuart Norfolk. He based it on Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel.

Yes, she has provided a lot of info for any who are learning how to write a novel.

Jump ahead and K.M. has updated the template to include info from her book Creating Character Arcs and a folder system that she personally uses for keeping track of her notes.

This template provides you with some initial folders meant to help in the prep stage. Help on creating your outline, notes on character development, and catchall for all your worldbuilding details.

Then she provides you with the manuscript section. If you follow this, you are pretty much mirroring her footsteps as she builds her story. There’s even lots of color coding.

Use the color coding to aid you in keeping track of any foreshadowing setups and payoffs.

Here’s an example of the setup and payoff color coding:

7. Squibler – Novel with 4 Parts

template for writing a novel on word

Did you even realize there was so much help available for those seeking to learn how to write a novel?

Courtesy of Tony McFadden , we have this Scrivener novel outline.

According to Tony, all good fiction—at least good fiction written in the last 100 years—follows a specific development arc broken down into four parts.

Let’s flesh those out a bit.

In part one, you have a goal. Sure you’re going to introduce your main character here, but you need to grab the attention of your readers and hold on to it. We’ve probably all read—or started to read—a book where an author failed to do that.

If you’re like me you have a huge TBR file, and you just move on to the next book. There isn’t enough time to read all the books we’d like to read, and if an author has lost you in the first chapter, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book.

Again, grab and hold the attention of your readers.

The first plot point is where our hero leaves behind the status quo and his quest—whatever it may be—begins.

At about half-way into the book, act two should begin. Our hero is now reacting to whatever brought about the change of status quo.

Finally, in act three our hero knows what’s necessary to succeed and overcomes all odds to do so.

Clearly, there’s a lot more involved than that. Why not check out the template?

8. Scrivener – The Snowflake Method Template

template for writing a novel on word

As should be very clear by now, there are a number of methods and techniques floating around. Probably one of the most respected and well known is the Snowflake Method , inspired by Randy Ingermanson.

The concept behind the Snowflake Method is that great novels don’t just happen. They are based on sound planning and design.

The idea is you need to build upon an extremely simple theme and then layer on the complexities. It calls for some intense planning and research upfront.

Having said that, Randy freely admits that all authors are different and what works for him isn’t necessarily going to work for every other writer.

For those who would like to try this method, here’s a condensed version of the initial steps:

Sound like something you would like to try? You can read Randy Ingermanson’s book of course, but you can also follow the book outline template based on his method.

9. Squibler – Thriller Template

template for writing a novel on word

This novel outline comes to you from writer Jennifer Mattern . A blogger and mystery writer, Jennifer writes both by means of an outline.

Her Murder Mystery Template provides you with all the necessary resources to plan, outline, and draft in a single file. If you also do any marketing for your book—and if you aren’t, you should be—there’s even a folder for promotional material.

There’s a lot of research and planning to goes into a modern murder mystery, and there’s a spot within the template for nearly anything you could think of at this stage.

1.  One-paragraph Summary 2.  One-page Summary 3.  Subplot Summaries 4.  Suspect List 5.  Secrets and Lies 6.  Clues 7.  Red Herring

1.  Murder Method 2.  Police Procedure & Forensics 3. Other Research Notes

But if you write murders mysteries—or read them—you know there’s still more involved, don’t you? It hasn’t been forgotten.

1.  Scene of the Crime

1.  Protagonist 2.  Antagonist 3.  Victim

There’s still more to this template, but for any who may be writing a mystery for the first time, or even if you’ve struggled with writing one in the past, this is an excellent template to follow. You’ll be sure to hit all the key plot points of a good mystery novel.

10. Excel – The One Page Novel Outline Spreadsheet

template for writing a novel on word

We’re leaving Scrivener behind and moving on to other book writing templates and novel outline formats. This one is provided courtesy of Eva Deverell .  One of her favorite writers is Joseph Campbell, mentioned above, who theorizes that all great stories are based on the foundation of a single story.

So it’s not surprising she is also a proponent of outlining. And as she points out, even “pantsers” typically work from some kind of preconceived plot or outline. Scant or encyclopedic, all writers need to follow some type of story structure.

This template is based upon a video workshop that Ms. Deverell offers.

In this video, she covers the following and more:

Using the spreadsheet, you are taken through different stages and scenes. For example, some of the stages are:

The spreadsheet also gives you an idea of where you should be in terms of word count. The template is based on a 50K novel, but you could easily—depending on your math skills—adjust the final word count and where you should be at any given point.

Assuming your book was also 50K, when you reach the “Trigger” stage, you should be about 10K words in. This stage introduces a scene where your main character is involved in an incident that sets your story in motion.

11. Scrivener – Blogging Template

template for writing a novel on word

This template is made available to us from Bryan Collins , a non-fiction writer who contributes to publications like Forbes .

Every writer isn’t a novelist. Especially in this content-driven world we now live in. We also have technical writers, case study writers, proposal writers and more.

Or perhaps as an author, you maintain a blog as well. Some offer priceless advice on how to become a better writer. For whatever reason you blog here’s an excellent template to use.

You do need to subscribe to Bryan’s mailing list to get his template, but in my opinion, it’s well worth it.

For all you bloggers out there, and especially those who have a busy blog you schedule for, you need to get this template.

I’m sure some of you are thinking a template for your blog is overkill, but here are a few ways it would be useful:

The provided folders allow you to keep your workflow past and present neatly categorized.

12. Scrivener – Screenplay Template

template for writing a novel on word

If you’re thinking of being the next George Lucas or James Cameron, you might want to consider using this screenplay template .

For those of you who already have Scrivener, you know this comes bundled with the software. For those who don’t maybe this will be some extra incentive to buy it.

It’s a fairly basic outline, but it has everything you need. However, some who actually write screenplays say it’s nothing to compare to using Final Draft, so you’ll need to draw your own conclusions.

I did find a last-minute bonus screenplay template though.

A Redditor has provided a Scrivener screenplay template that some are saying is much better than the one mentioned above.

You will need to be the judge of that yourself. You can download it using this link .

If you’re a beginner, this might be the one for you. It includes:

Do You Have to Use a Novel Outline Template?

At least that’s the short simple answer.

Should you use a book template or novel outline? That’s going to depend on the writer, especially when we’re talking about more of the complex outlines and templates.

But here’s the thing. Every writer should be writing from some form of an outline. For some, that could be a very brief outline consisting of nothing more than a handful of words.

Perhaps notes jotted down on things like the following:

Your brief outline may have more or less than that, it depends on you. And it depends on the feedback of your readers too.

Are your reviews complaining about major plot holes? Or in one chapter your character is a plump blonde but in the next a sleek brunette? Then you have some serious problems, and it really doesn’t matter what you think of your story.

Criticism can be hard to take, but constructive criticism is gold. Learn from your readers and your peers.

And start to use an outline or template. Who knows, you might decide you love it. Or you may just think this is all terrible writing advice. But at least give it a try.

A final note on things like worldbuilding.

Depending on what you write, it might be easier to get away without an outline or template. But the more complex your novel, the more detailed, the chances that you should be using an outline template increase significantly.

While the above list is long, it’s by no means comprehensive. And while most of these templates are for Scrivener, with some searching there are a lot more formats available. We also discuss some book outline templates I haven’t mentioned here in another post.

Happy writing!

template for writing a novel on word

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8 Novel Outline Templates That Help You Write Your Story

You’ve settled on  the  idea you believe has potential for a great novel.

You’ve done your research.

You’ve spent a great deal of time  developing your characters .

Maybe you even started writing your outline, but you’re frustrated.

You’re ready to start writing, and you’re confused about which plot structure will best fit  your  story.

We know the drill—your frustration is all too familiar for many beginning writers.

That’s why we created this plot structures resource to help give you a better idea which direction you’d like to head as you create the plot of your story.

As well as creating a list of plot templates for easy, practical use, we've also created a detailed guide to what plot outlines are, how they've  evolved over time and looking at the advantage and disadvantages of using them.

Click here to skip straight to the plot templates , or read on...

The Ultimate Guide to Plot Outlines

The Hero’s Journey / The Universal Storyline

Doesn’t using this set of stages stifle creativity and turn us all into repetitive automatons, who came up with these stages anyway and why should i trust them, evolving the hero’s journey / universal plot outline.

What are the benefits of writing a plot outline?

What are the disadvantages of writing a plot outline, how to write a plot outline.

What is a Plot Outline?

template for writing a novel on word

A plot outline is like your story’s skeleton. It’s the bones on which you hang the flesh, blood, sweat and tears of your story.

It sketches out the underlying  structure  of your novel: its key stages, including critical developments and pivotal moments.

It doesn’t list all of the chapters, or everything that happens in them. Its sticks to the heart of the story – which is usually the personal journey of the protagonist, from who they are at the beginning to who they are at the end.

For some people an outline may simply be a few ideas floating around their head , for others it may be a 50,000 word document.

For our purposes, we’ll assume a plot outline is a written document of a few pages, covering key stages and turning points.

The most basic plot structures

The simplest plot outline could be based on the  three act structure :

template for writing a novel on word

For example:

But that’s simplistic to the point of being of limited use. So you may want to expand it into something like this:

template for writing a novel on word

For many people, this is enough of a structure on which to hang the main points of their story. Using these stages will help ensure the story feels satisfying to a reader.

Imagine how a reader might feel if you wrote a story with the stages in this order:

template for writing a novel on word

It hurts just to look at it. Imagine what it would be like to read.

Applying this distortion to the simplest of plot outline makes it clear why getting the stages out of order can be confusing, unsettling and even nonsensical.

This is an important lesson, because while the diagram above is almost laughable, it might not be so obvious when stages are out of order when using a more advanced structure. However, there’s a high chance that readers will still feel less engaged and emotionally involved.

The most popular and widely used plot structure is probably the Hero’s Journey, which goes something like this:

Refusal of the Call

Crossing the Threshold

template for writing a novel on word

In this diagram, the higher the line, the higher the tension and stakes. The dip towards the end additionally represents a loss of hope.

Traditional diagrams depict the Hero’s Journey as a circle, but I find that doesn’t sit right with me, as it means the end point appears to be exactly the same as the start point.

For me the linear diagram better represents the concept the the hero returns ‘home’ (back to the baseline), but they are further forward than they were at the start.

Here’s a  very  brief explanation for each of these stages:

You can read about the stages of the Hero’s Journey in more detail  here .

Before we go any further, let’s address some questions that writers sometimes raise with regards to the Hero’s Journey and other plot outlines.

template for writing a novel on word

It’s important to realise that each of these stages can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways, leading to an infinite variety of stories.

At first, it’s easy to be misled (especially by the wording) that this template will force your story into a particular style.

For example, at the most fundamental level, the word ‘Hero’ may give the impression you have to present a sword wielding, brawny young man who longs for adventure - but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

template for writing a novel on word

The ‘Hero’ just means the protagonist, and they don’t have to display any traditionally ‘heroic’ qualities at all. We are all the protagonist of our own experience, however flawed and morally questionable.

Similarly, the Call to Adventure doesn’t have to have anything to do with sirens, evil Kings or swordfights. It can be anything that unsettles and ordinary life.

So, while the hero  could  be a young man longing for exciting quests, and his call to adventure  could  be an old wizard telling him of a dragon who’s kidnapped a princess, it could equally be:

Click here  for more examples of the Hero’s Journey in a range of stories.

If you start looking out for it as you watch movies and read books, you will start to see how varied the interpretations are, and how the same concepts that be found in all genres and mediums.

In fact, because of your own personal experience of life and the world, you couldn’t write a book that was the same as someone else by following these stages, even if you tried.

template for writing a novel on word

One of the most important things to remember when following the Hero’s Journey and its variations, is that nobody  invented  them.

An academic called Joseph Campbell is credited with analysing thousands of stories spanning the globe, from those told around tribal campfires to modern books and movies.

In doing so, Campbell identified similarities that emerged beyond all the borders and ages, and attempted to distil these common patterns into one fundamental ‘monomyth’. The Hero’s Journey is a modernised interpretation of that monomyth.

template for writing a novel on word

So, they are not a set of rules made up and laid out by some authority. They are a fundamental structure that emerged from the collective consciousness of our human psyche.

The success of the vast majority of bestsellers and box office huts is testament to the power of the Hero’s Journey to resonate with large numbers of people.

Cautions of the monomyth

template for writing a novel on word

Having said that… all interpretations we make of the world are shaped by our own experience, and the original monomyth laid out by Campbell certainly contains problematic terminology and elements.

Glaringly, there are those which focus on the traditionally male perspective and experience, but there are also issues with bias towards the western experience and attitudes of the time regarding dominance and individuality.

Campbell can’t be blamed for that, none of us can see the limitations of our own perspective because they are beyond our peripheral vision. However, it also means that we don’t need to treat his analysis as ‘sacred’.

And of course, the Hero’s Journey is already an interpretation of the original work, so it has already begun.

Despite these qualifications, disregarding the monomyth and Hero’s Journey would be throwing away some of a writer’s most useful tools.

And we can continue that work by evolving it to fit our changing experiences and attitudes to the world and our way of existing in it.

Of course, you could choose to throw it all out and start from scratch, creating your own stages, pacing and progression. But there is a much stronger chance you won’t tap into the collective unconscious; in which case you’ll need to work much harder to engage the audience.

template for writing a novel on word

Many have already begun this work, and created interpretations and variations which make it clearer that the emphasis is on a personal journey, rather than anything to do with men slaying dragons.

An excellent one is the Character Driven Hero’s Journey, as developed by Allen Palmer:

Genre specific novel outline templates

And of course, people who write in specific genres are able to identify stages and elements which tend to crop up consistently within their own genres, and have a positive effect on the popularity of their stories.

We’ve created a bunch of genre specific plot outline templates, including:

You can access all of these below.

Stronger first draft

If you outline your plot before you start writing, you can be confident your first draft will have a solid structure from the outset, rather than hoping for it to emerge organically, or having to retroactively go and apply it

This will save time and effort when it comes to redrafting and editing towards your final manuscript.

Direction and Completion

Knowing where you’re going helps you get there.

Writing a novel is a mammoth task which can feel overwhelming. Having a plot outline helps break it down into manageable chunks, with clear goals.

It can keep you motivated and on track.

Frees up creativity

Contrary to stifling creativity, having a plot outline frees you up to let the words flow, because you don’t have to be preoccupied with the worry that you’re going to write 50,000 words then find yourself in a dead end.

Could take away the thrill of discovery

Many writers don’t want to know too much about their story before they start, as the knowing sucks out the excitement of discovering the story as they write.

And some successful writers report that they never plan before they start.

But when you analyse their work, you will usually discover that the stages are in fact. So what gives?

It’s not that they’re being dishonest, it’s that they have absorbed these patterns from their experiences of books, movies and life and are applying them sub-consciously.

If you don’t feel writing out a plot outline works for you, then it’s even more important to internalise the universal structures, so you can rely on your subconscious to take care of it.


Writers can sometimes be procrastinators to professional levels, so make sure you’re not doing your plot outline to death just to avoid starting your first draft.

But the fact is that there are certain things that tap into our human psyche. Skilled writers will subvert and break traditional structural conventions to great effect – but it’s unlikely they’ll do so by accident.

You have to know the rules before you can consistently break them effectively, so know about plot outlines and what they do is a great tool to have in your writer’s toolbox, whether you decide to use them in the end or not.

Find a plot outline that suits you

Read through a range of plot outline templates and see which resonates with you the most.

Write a few sentences for each of the stages

For each of the stages write a few sentences, or a paragraph which describe how that stage manifests in your novel.

Read through the entire thing and make sure it flows and makes sense. Make adjustments for consistency.

Ongoing improvement

As you’re writing your first draft and subsequent drafts, treat your plot outline like a working document, not a set of commandments carved into stone.

If it needs tweaking and updating, that’s fine. You may decide to reorder the stages, add new ones, or remove some.

Don’t be too rigid

As with all rules of thumb, you can break the conventions to great effect – the important thing is that you know what you’re doing and why, rather than just fumbling because you don’t have the right tools in the first place.

Following the stages fairly closely is the easiest way to take advantage of the patterns of the collective unconscious. Deviating from them is to be encouraged, but you have to be aware of the impact it will have, and realise you may have to work harder and use other techniques to engage the audience and keep them emotionally hooked.

Good luck with your plot outlines! Please share your plot outlines and other plot outline resources in the comments!

8 Plot Outline Templates - Free Downloadable PDFs

The plot structures below are available as free downloadable PDFs, but there  is  a better way to use them.

They are all fully integrated into the Novel Factory novel writing software.

There, you can select a template from the dropdown menu and begin writing within the software.

You are given the option to add and delete your own stages, sort them into acts, and drag and drop them into the order you prefer.

It takes using these novel outline templates to a new level of efficiency.

Get a free trial of the Novel Factory  to see it in action.

If you like these, you may also like our  free book writing worksheets.

Character Driven Plot Outline

Character Driven Plot Outline

This story outline is driven by the development of a compelling character arc.

The protagonist begins with something missing from their existence, even though they may not be aware of it.

Through the story, they learn why they feel incomplete and must face their demons and deepest fears in order to evolve as a person and become whole.

Incomplete  - establish the hero's 'want' and their 'need'

The protagonist is unfulfilled in their normal life. There will be two things missing – one thing that they think they want (like money, fame, a Porsche – you get the idea) and another thing which they haven’t thought of, but is the real thing that will give them fulfillment. (compassion, self-confidence, etc).

Unsettled  -  an outside force appears (e.g. invitation or threat)

The protagonist’s world becomes unsettled by an outside force. An invitation, threat, or attack, perhaps.

Romance Plot Outline

Romance Novel Story Outline

The classic romance story structure, including all the major story beats and complications.

Based on characters having personal character arcs and motivations that conflict with the romance aspect.

Introduce the protagonist (who feels incomplete)

Introduce the main character’s world. They may be successful in many areas of life, but clearly, there’s a gap when it comes to a loving relationship. Foreshadow the conflict that will create challenges for the romance to come. Establish the hero’s non-romance based goal.

The protagonist meets love interest but there is conflict

When the two main characters first meet it is extremely likely that they will hate each other on sight. Show how they are from different worlds, with strongly contrasting views on life.

Characters are forced to spend time together

Due to external factors, the characters are forced to spend time together, and even to cooperate to achieve a goal. They are still at odds, but the sparks are kindling some fire… A friend may even comment on it, but the couple-to-be both hotly deny there is an attraction.

Hero's Journey Plot Outline

Hero's Journey Novel Plot Outline

The Hero's Journey, as proposed by Joseph Campbell, trimmed to the bone and applicable across all genres - not just sword-wielding fantasies.

The Ordinary World

To begin with, you set the scene and introduce the main character. This is the place to establish what’s missing from the main character’s life, and give hints about the story to come.

Call to Adventure

An external force challenges the main character. This is usually an invitation or a threat.

The protagonist often expresses reluctance to answer the Call to Action. They may be afraid or feel poorly equipped for such a challenge. Sometimes the reluctance is expressed by a supporting character, not the hero.

Meeting with the Mentor

The mentor is a character of authority to the protagonist. They provide advice and useful gifts, such as weapons or talismans. The mentor often reflects the tone of the story - a tragedy will have a one who is toxic or destructive (or one who is already dead), a children's fairytale will have a benevolent all-knowing one, a dystopia may have an unreliable one. The mentor is usually a recurring character.

Crime Mystery Plot Outline

Mystery / Crime Thriller Plot Outline

A fairly detailed structure that explains how to develop the sleuth's inner character journey alongside solving the crime and uncovering deeper conspiracies.

Present the crime

Mysteries and crime thrillers often begin with a prologue in which the inciting crime takes place. The first crime is very likely to be a murder or kidnapping. This is from a POV that is not the main protagonist, it may be from the point of view of the victim, the killer, or an omniscient narrator.

Introduce the sleuth

Next, we meet the sleuth, who is the protagonist. This person is often a professional detective, but not always. Sometimes they are a normal person thrust into a situation that gives them no choice but to take action – usually because someone they love is missing or threatened.

Universal Plot Outline

Universal Novel Plot Outline

Based on the hero's journey, but rejigged to make the terminology more generic and easy to apply across genres.

The Status Quo

Introduce the main character’s world and establish their want and their need. The character clearly has things missing from their lives and they are unsatisfied with their current existence.

The Complication

Something happens to shake the character’s world and offers them an opportunity, or creates a threat.

In pursuit of the goal, the character crosses some kind of barrier (could be physical but doesn’t have to be), which means it is not possible to return to their old life.

A New World

The character is now in a new and unfamiliar world, trying to navigate unknown rules and challenges.

External Obstacles

The character must face a series of conflicts, each of increasing difficulty and stakes. Some they will win, some they will lose.

Internal Obstacles (temptation)

The most compelling stories will pit main characters against their inner demons, forcing them to overcome them in order to become a better person.

Dark Moment

In order for the high of the climax to have the greatest effect, you should precede it by taking your character as low as they can go. Despite all the progress they’ve made against external and internal obstacles, something should happen at the end of the second act which makes everything fall apart and makes them certain that all is lost.

The Final Conflict

This is the final battle where they throw everything they’ve learned and everything they’ve become, against the great enemy - and in the vast majority of cases, they will be victorious.

The Return Home

Bring your readers back down to earth after the climax, show the hero's new normal and tie up any loose ends.

Detective Noir Plot Outline

Detective Noir Novel Plot Outline

Drawn from the detective noir / hard-boiled genres, a dark mystery structure with dark undertones and plenty of betrayal.

The protagonist of a detective noir is often an anti-hero. An outcast, often someone who held a heroic position in the past, such as a police officer or soldier, but who has fallen from grace. A sense of alienation should be established and maintained throughout the story.

The siren walks in

A client will appear, seeking help with a case – usually a murder or missing person. They may appear vulnerable or wanting to help, but they will have a deep, dark secret that is bound to get the protagonist into hot water.

Although the femme fatale trope is common, there is no requirement for the siren to be female, or sexy, and in fact, mixing it up may make your story more refreshing.

Initial investigation

The protagonist begins their investigations, searching for clues. This will often be done at night, and in the shadows. Throughout the investigation, there should be a healthy amount of red herrings.

Note - click here to read about the difference between hard-boiled and noir.

And you can read more about the elements of detective noir here.

Screenplay Plot Outline

Screenplay Plot Outline

Based on Hollywood Blockbusters.

Stage I: The Setup

Create the world and transport readers there. Introduce your hero in their everyday life and create empathy with them. Hint at the hero’s inner conflict (their ‘need’).

Turning Point #1: The Opportunity (10%)

10% into the story something new and different must happen to the hero. The Opportunity begins the journey and presents outer motivation.

Stage II: The new situation

They find themselves in a new situation. The newness of the situation may be internal (a new emotional state or attitude) or external (change in circumstances / location). The hero tries to navigate this new, unknown territory and begins to formulate a plan for achieving their outer motivation.

Turning Point #2: The Change of Plans (25%)

The outer motivation transforms into a specific, visible goal with a clearly defined endpoint.

Stage III: Progress

The hero makes progress towards their outer motivation. They may receive training and / or mentoring. There are conflicts and setbacks, but overall they seem to getting closer to achieving their goal.

Short Story Plot Outline

Short Story Plot Outline

A seven-point system for writing a short story.

A character

In a short story you can often get away with characters being larger than life, or having distinctive qualities that are more exuberant, because the reader won’t be experiencing the character for so long that these characteristics begin to become tiresome or irritating.

Is in a situation

Very quickly you need to introduce the character’s world and their place in it. What is interesting about this character and their life? Make sure the reader feels excited and intrigued.

With a problem

At the heart of all good fiction is conflict. What problem does your character have to solve? Try to get to the problem as quickly as possible (within the first few paragraphs) so the reader is hooked and needs to know how the problem is going to be resolved.

They try to solve the problem

The character should begin to make efforts to solve their problem.

But fail, making it worse

But these efforts have the opposite effect, and the originally small problem begins to grow into something really serious.

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79 thoughts on “Free Editable Book Templates in Word”

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Hi, the size you mentioned seems to be a landscape book. We don’t have any template for this size right now. But if you can wait for the next few days then we’ll try to make this book size for you, thank you.

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Thanks so much for your appreciating words! Unfortunately, we do not have any specific template for poetry writing yet but all our templates are customizable so you can modify them as per your needs. One particular template would be 5.25 x 8 template which you can use for your poetry writings, however, you’ll have to tweak a few formatting changes in it to make it look more perfect for poetries. You can find this template on our book templates page, thank you.

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Hi, I wanted to know your price.

All our templates are free! Thank you.

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You can use Word document templates to design resumes and cover letters , create business invoices, customize annual calendars, and more. There are also templates that you can use throughout your business's internal operations. Use Word document templates to create a business plan, design and share your org chart, and make printable letter head.

How do I create or customize templates for Word?

Where do i find word templates, popular categories.

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9 Best Book Writing Templates [+ Free Download]

template for writing a novel on word


Writing a book can be a daunting task and there is never any shame in getting some help. You should constantly be learning how to become a better writer.

Utilizing the many resources that are available to you will make the process easier and more efficient. There is no telling how long it will take to write your book, so some book writing templates can help speed the process up.

A book writing template acts as a guide that writers can rely on. It helps you create the blueprint for your book. They are useful tools whether you are learning how to write a book, or are already experienced in the craft.

Book writing templates are most useful for new writers who are still wrapping their head around the whole idea of writing a book. A template will give them the structure so all they have to do is let the creativity flow.

Especially for those learning how to write a novel length piece of 50,000 words or more, a book writing template will help you. It will allow you to stay organized and focused while you see your project through to completion.

The Benefits of Book Writing Templates

In addition to helping you do the writing itself, book writing software with templates have many advantages. They are there to help your book be the best it can in all areas.

Some of these templates are built into their own software, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take them and do what you want with them.

Using these templates in conjunction with Squibler may be beneficial if you are wanting to stay really organized and efficient. It is a fantastic book writing software that is designed for book writers specifically.

Between Squibler and these brilliantly designed templates, you’ll be learning how to become a better writer in no time. The templates themselves have many benefits:

Professional Design

While the content itself is the main purpose of your book, aesthetics still need to come into play. From the layout to the font, you want it to look good. Knowing how to write a book isn’t only about storytelling.

There are book writing templates that will help you with these things as well.

Book Writing Templates are Easy to Use

When trying to write a good book , you don’t want anything to overcomplicate the process. Book writing templates are there to make things easier.

A template will be easy to understand and implement.

Better Publishing Experience

When it comes time to publish your book, having the right book writing template will make for a better experience. You will already have your book laid out the way it should be.

And, if you have chosen a template with design elements as well, you won’t have to worry about the way it looks. This makes for a seamless and stress-free publishing process.

Book Writing Templates Save You Time

Writing a book directly from scratch is overwhelming and not always necessary. Book writing templates will give you a head start on the structure of your book. This will save you valuable time.

Even as you begin the writing itself, having the template there to guide you will save you from getting lost in your own story. Once one section is finished you can move onto the next.

You will never have to sit there and wonder where you should go or what should happen.

Characteristics of the Best Book Writing Templates

While book writing templates will vary in what they have to offer, many of the core characteristics will remain the same. These attributes are ones you can look out for when selecting the best book writing template for yourself.

The Best Book Writing Templates are Comprehensive

The best book writing templates are often made by professionals. This means they know what they are doing. They are well versed in the world of writing and they know what will help you.

This means they should be detailed and thorough. Nothing should be missing from the process you are trying to create. For example, a novel outlining template should have sections for all basic aspects of writing a novel:

Different types of books will have different requirements, but the template should include all of them.

The Best Book Writing Templates are Customizable

A good quality novel outlining template created by a professional will have a good structure that is effective. However, this doesn’t mean their method is set in stone.

A good template will allow you to customize it with ease while still maintaining its own basic structure.

For example, you might want to add more chapters than the number that is being recommended. Or, perhaps you choose to rearrange some aspects of the given novel structure. Making changes is okay – the templates are created as guides only.

The Best Book Writing Templates are Not Complex

While some book writing templates are expansive and cover lots of ground, they shouldn’t be complicated. A good template will be straightforward and easy to follow.

You should be able to navigate your way through it and know what you’re looking at. For example, the layout should have a proper flow – things should be in order. In a novel writing template, note, research, and brainstorming should all sit next to each other, while chapters and scenes are kept together.

Learning how to write a book is complicated enough. Your book or novel outlining template should be simple at its core.

The 9 Best Book Writing Templates

Many writers swear by using a template and won’t start a project without one. Because of this, many options have been created. It can be hard to find the right one.

Start by identifying what type of book you are writing, and go from there. First, find a template that is relevant, then look for one that matches your likes and preferences.

While there are hundreds of templates available, these are some of the best and most common ones. If you are new to templates, it may take going through a few to find your favorite.

Most of the templates listed below can be used with Microsoft Word, Scrivener, Adobe InDesign, or Apple Pages.

For avid Scrivener users, we do have a more comprehensive list of Scrivener templates that you might find useful as well.

The Three Act Story Plotting Template

This template focuses on the most basic level of story structure there: the beginning, the middle, and the end. This is known as the three-act story structure.

The three act template will walk you through all the elements of each act.

The Beginning:

The Middle:

All of these stages will be laid out for you. Once you have finished brainstorming your story, you need simply to write through every element. This will form an excellent baseline to create an engaging and effective novel.

For more details and some questions to prompt each section, check out Evernote’s version of the three-act story plotting template here.

The Story Beats Template

This template was born from the world of script writing. It breaks the story down into “beats.” These continue to move the story along as each “beat” or milestone is completed.

This template is also available in more detail from Evernote.

The Spark Template

This book writing template was designed for novels and nonfiction books alike. It can be used with Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe InDesign.

The Spark template is created to help you format your book for publishing, with less of a focus on the content itself.

This template offers support for both print and e-book publishing. You can find it available for purchase by clicking here.

The Pulp Template

This is another template that was created mainly to help you format your book for publishing. It offers a sleek and stylish design that is perfect for fiction as well as literary nonfiction.

You can buy it by clicking here.

The Britannia Template

This template is designed specifically for nonfiction writing. Another template to assist you in formatting your finished copy, it is easy to both understand and use.

It is compatible with Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe InDesign. To preview and purchase the template, click here.

The No-Nonsense Novel Template

This is another book writing template that is useful for beginners and first-timers. It is an extension of the basic novel writing template that comes in Scrivener by default.

the template isn’t complex however it does offer some guidance in terms of structure and outlining. It contains sections for things like characters, settings, research, chapters, and scenes. In addition to these, it gives you a folder with a nine-point outline.

This basic but helpful template is designed for Scrivner and can be downloaded here.

The 30-Chapter Novel Template

This book writing template is a fantastic choice for first-time novel writers. While not every single novel is going to be 30 chapters, that number is a good average.

This template has a section for each of its 30 chapters already laid out for you.

Not only are they already created, but there are questions and thoughts to guide you through each chapter.  These prompts are designed to keep your story on pace and keep events happening where they should.

30 chapter novel template

All the chapters set up for you with their corresponding prompts. This is helpful for first-time novelists who may struggle with structure. It can also help in brainstorming for your outline if you choose to create one.

The World Building Leviathan Template

This book writing template is designed with fantasy in mind. Writing a fantasy novel requires extensive world building.  A fantasy typically takes place in a realm or domain that is created entirely by the author.

This means that things such as physical laws, governments, and social classes need to be figured out. You also need to decide if you are writing a story about humans or other species. All of this is called world-building.

Building a world from scratch can be a terrifying and overwhelming thing to grasp. This is where the leviathan method comes in.

The leviathan method is simply a step-by-step look at your world. It asks you questions that create each piece of your new universe.

It is a comprehensive creation process, with a total of 52 steps. The steps and what they look like can be seen below:

book writing templates

As you can see, there are also sections for a “story bible,” characters, research, and more information on the world itself. A more complete world building template does not exist. This is where you want to be creating your fantasy.

Learning how to write a novel in the fantasy genre is an especially arduous task with all the different elements. This detailed and comprehensive template will take some of the pressure off.

It requires much time and effort, but it’s a template that will give you a whole new world by the end of it. If you think you have what it takes to go through the entire leviathan method, you can download the template for Scrivener here .

For a simpler and more straightforward fantasy template, you can check this one out:

fantasy novel template

This template still walks you through a fantasy novel. But, it focuses more on creating a novel that has a good structure, with fantasy specific elements.

The Personal Template

You may decide that none of the existing templates are going to work for you. It can happen – everyone is different. If this is the case, you may consider creating your own template.

Studying the professional templates already available will give you an idea of what to include for it to be successful. You can consider things like outlines, acts, parts, and varying structures.

You can create a personal combination of all the elements and suit it to your project specifically.

It won’t always be an easy task, but it may prove to be worth it in the end. You will be able to follow a guide that was curated especially for your book. If done correctly, this can help you create work that is truly fantastic.

You are never truly done learning how to write a novel. But, as you gain experience, you may be able to create successful templates of your own for others to use.

For a simple, generic guide to curating your own template, this example can be helpful:

general fiction template

This is an outline for a novel with no specific genre or style. It has some basic prompt for writing general fiction. You can easily add to this one and make it your own based on your book.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Book Writing Template

Each template is different and you will need to decide which is right for you and your book. These are some factors to consider when making the decision.

Easy Navigation

Even in a large and extensive template, navigation should be easy and fast. There should be no delay or confusion when it comes to flipping from one chapter or section to another.


A good template will be responsive and versatile.

It should be compatible with multiple devices and fit on multiple screen types and sizes. This ensures the maximum amount of accessibility among users.

It Should Have a Theme

The template you use should fit the theme of your book.

Don’t try to use a nonfiction template for your novel. Using a world-building fantasy template probably won’t work when trying to write a romance either.

More general templates can be good if you don’t know exactly where your story is going just yet.

For example, you know you want to write a nonfiction book but you haven’t chosen a topic yet. This general template will be helpful in sorting out the details:

general nonfiction template

You can easily add to this template to make it more specific for your book, once you figure it out.

Assess the Features and Abilities

Depending on the template’s intended usage, the built-in features will differ. Make sure you understand the available features of your chosen template. Not every feature will work for every book.

A Template Which Supports the Right Tone

You want the template you choose to use the correct language. You want to tell your story in the proper voice. Find a template that works with the style of your book.

There is a difference in the way fiction and nonfiction are written. Find a template that agrees with what you are doing.

How to Use Book Writing Templates

Many templates are versatile and serve many purposes. However, they are generally used for either planning and outlining, or actually writing the book. Below are some tips for planning and writing your book with a template.

For the Planning of the Book

As a writer, planning is always of the utmost importance. You want to achieve a good result, and those don’t come from thin air.

In addition to book writing templates, there are some other things you can do to collect and organize your thoughts. These methods are useful and effective when used in conjunction with your chosen template.

The Snowflake Method

The snowflake method is a specific process that is used to tell a story. There are steps to take and certain things you need to do to make it work.

This method is well-suited to writers who like to work in chronological order. If you like to start at the beginning and write straight through to the end, this method is for you. If you are interested, you can check out the detailed instructions we created for writing with the snowflake method here.

Track Your Story With Time

It is, of course, important to be aware of the plot of the story you are writing.

In addition to this, however, it is helpful to also consider the passage of time throughout your story. When planning the events of your book, note the time frame. How many days, months, years have passed?

Did this event happen in the morning or evening? This is a simple method that can help you keep track of where your characters are at all times. It will also help ensure you don’t get timelines mixed up and overlapped.

Chapter Outline

This is a method of writing that goes well with the 30 chapter novel template mentioned above.

The idea here is to simply outline each chapter before beginning to actually write.

To do this, go through the plot you have created and break it down into individual chapters. Once you have done that, create an outline for each chapter. This can include potential scenes, events, important revelations, character developments, etc.

Of course, things can be changed along the way. This is just one way of getting an overview of your story as a whole.

Using Book Writing Templates to Create Your Storyline

While the use of an outline is widely debated, there is no denying the need for a good quality storyline. Outline or no outline , this requires extensive knowledge of your characters and the world around them.

Well-written and relatable characters will give meaning to your story and make it memorable for the readers. There are a few things you can do to ensure you keep track of your characters as well as develop them correctly.

Create a Master List

This may or may not be necessary depending on your cast of characters. Some books contain a small handful of characters, in which case a master list might be moot.

However, any story with a large number of characters – whether big or small – is at risk of getting them confused.

This is why it might be a good idea to create a master list and keep it somewhere accessible.

All you need to do is create a list of your characters and note a few identifiable features. Name, brief backstory, and role in the story should suffice. Keep this on hand in case you need to remember who someone is or what they are supposed to do.


In addition to a master list, it may be worth creating short biographies for each main player in your story. Details of their past and their current life situation. This will help you keep everything straight in your mind, which will translate to consistency on the page.

Readers will pick up on holes and inconsistencies in your character’s stories in no time if you allow them to be there.

Character Development Sheet

A character development sheet is something that should be done for your protagonist as well as all the other main characters.

All this entails is a list of every attribute or characteristic the character possesses. Even small things that may never appear in the story can be important in you knowing who the character is at the core.

This knowledge, even if not mentioned in the book, can be helpful in figuring out how a character would react or what they would do in a situation. This will help you create the most believable and authentic story possible.

Your readers will love a character that so closely resembles a real person.

Do Your Best Work With Book Writing Templates

If you are struggling to write your book or just want to get done faster, you can never go wrong with a book writing template. They are there as a guide and are by no means set in stone. In addition to helping you create your book, they really want to help you learn how to become a better writer.

The template you find might be a perfect fit for your book. You may find yourself making zero changes.

Or, there might be a template that you love, but it needs tweaking to fit your project. This is fine too.

While these templates are some of the best, the options really are endless. So, open up your favorite book writing software, grab your template, and get to work!

template for writing a novel on word

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Home / Book Writing / How to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word

How to Write a Book Using Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word has been a go-to tool for authors for nearly forty years. Not only is it the industry standard for editors and agents, but it can also be used to format your book (although I wouldn't advise it).

And since most people already have Word on their computers, it's often the first stop on the book-writing journey. So read on as we explore how to write a book using Microsoft Word.

The Tool Built for Writing Books

As you’ll see in this article, Word is adequate for writing books. But for indie authors, it’s certainly not the best tool. Even after you write your book in Word, you’ll need to format it before you sell any copies. And formatting requires either a separate tool or a professional (and expensive) formatter. 

This is why we created Atticus as a better alternative to Word and other basic tools like it. Atticus is a word-processor, formatter, simple design tool, and a goal-tracker all at once. It’s a powerful but easy-to-use tool that can allow you to see how your finished book will look as you write it! These are just a few of the features Atticus offers. Plus, we’re working on a ton of new features like collaboration and editing that will be out soon. 

There’s no subscription. Just a one-time price that includes all future updates. 

If you want to see Atticus in action, check out this article . And if you want to see how to write a book using Word, keep on reading! 

Pros and Cons of Writing With Word

There are a lot of word processors out there designed for book-writing. With all these options, how does Word measure up? Well, there are some definite pros and cons that will help you decide. 

Video: How to Write a Book in Word

For a nice summary of this article, along with a few of my own personal thoughts on the subject, be sure to check out this video on how to write a book in Microsoft Word.

Want more videos like this? Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly videos!

The Basics of Book Writing in Word

MS Word has a ton of features. This is good because it gives you options, allowing you to choose how best to build your writing experience . But there's such a thing as too many options, and it's easy to get bogged down in them.

Luckily, you don't need to familiarize yourself with many Word features to get started. In fact, you can get by just fine with the basics.

For those who crave a simple, uncluttered writing process, the basics will be more than enough.

Font Size and Style

When you open a new Word document, you'll see a default font style and size on the Home tab. Usually, this is Calibri or Times New Roman for the style, and 11 for the font size. Feel free to change these. Times New Roman and 12-point font are the widely accepted standard manuscript format. 

If you are querying a literary agent or sending the document to an editor, they may have their submission guidelines, so remember to check.

If you're going to self-publish (and you totally should), then simply choose a font size and style that you like. You'll likely change it during formatting, anyway.

Chapter Headings

You'll want a way to navigate easily through your document when the word count gets high. To do this, use the Styles option on the Home toolbar in Word.

You can highlight your chapter heading or number, which will bring up a toolbar with the Styles option in it. Or you can simply place your cursor in or next to your heading and then select the Styles option from the toolbar near the top of your screen.

I'd suggest using the Header 1 option for chapter headings . This way, you can use Header 2 for subheadings or scene breaks.

You can also pick “Create a Style” and make your own headings, using a color and font of your choice if you don't like the defaults. But since you'll likely end up changing the chapter styles later anyway, it's not necessary.

Once you start using Headings, you'll want to activate the Navigation Pane so you can click around your book easily. When you're working on a long document, this is a massive time-saver.

To do this, click on the View tab from the top toolbar. Just left of center, you'll see an option that says “Navigation Pane Show.” Simply click the box. If you don't have any headings yet, they'll automatically populate there once you do.

If you don't want to have the Navigation Pane up while you write, simply click it off and click it back on whenever you want to use it!

Find and Replace

Using the Find or Find and Replace feature in Microsoft Word can make your life easier when editing or trying to remember what color a certain character's eyes were. (If you’re not using character profiles , that is.)

On the Home toolbar, you'll see the Editing feature next to the Styles feature. Click on this to use the Find or Find and Replace tool, depending on what you need.

If you're writing to meet daily goals (which you totally should!), then it's important to know your word count. Luckily, Word makes this easy by automatically displaying the word count at the bottom left corner of the window. (It displays the page number, as well.)

If you want to know how many words are in a certain section, you can highlight that section, and the program will automatically count them and display them in the bottom left corner. Easy!

That's it for the basics! Using those four basic tools, you'll be able to write your book in Word. But what if you're a plotter or you want to get a jump on formatting? Or maybe you just want to know about some other features you can use. Well, read on for some advanced tips!

(If you're writing a book for something like National Novel Writing Month , I'd stick with the basics above. NaNoWriMo is all about getting the words down. You can worry about prettying them up later!)

Advanced Word Book Writing

MS Word is a word processor. It's a powerful one, but it's still mainly a word processor. Now, that doesn't mean you can't do other things with it, like format for submission to a publishing house. You can.

But if you're mainly concerned with formatting your manuscript for submission to traditional publishing channels, check out our in-depth article on manuscript formatting . In it, we cover things like title page creation, margins, and headers and footers.

If you want to know a bit more about Microsoft Word features that can help you write your book, read on!

When ending a chapter, it's a good idea to use the Page Break feature instead of hitting enter a bunch of times to get to the next page.

To do this, click on the Insert tab on the top toolbar. On the very left-hand side of the bar, you'll see the Page Break option at the bottom. Just make sure your cursor is beyond the last character at the end of the chapter!

Using a Template

There are plenty of templates you can use with your Microsoft Word document. When you first open the word processor, you'll see some Word templates offered next to the basic Blank Document option. You'll also see a More Templates option so you can search for a specific type of Word template.

Most of these aren't great for books, although you can likely find one or two with most (if not all) of the standard manuscript formatting in place. But if you're making a booklet or you know there's a book template available online, feel free to use them.

Just be aware that your Word document will probably still require you to use a book formatting software if you want a professional-looking book for self-publishing.

The Layout Tab

The default page size in Word is 8.5 by 11 inches. Most books are much smaller than this. So if you want to change your document to reflect the smaller page size, you can do so in the Layout Tab.

This is also the place to change your margins with the Margins tab located in the Page Setup section. You'll also see options to change the paragraph indents and spacing if you want.

Editing Your Word Document

Word has a built-in spelling and grammar checker under the Review tab. It's a good idea to do at least one pass with this. You can also access the Editor at the right side of the Home tab. It's also worth doing another pass with a proofreading tool like ProWritingAid , Grammarly, or one of the many other options available.

The Review tab has a lot of useful stuff for editing. You can use the Read Aloud feature to help you find awkward sentences or minor mistakes you didn't see on other editing passes. After sending your polished manuscript off to an editor (every writer should hire an editor!) you'll likely use the Review tab to accept or decline changes made to the document.

Should You Use Word for Book Writing?

If you're planning on self-publishing your book, Word is an adequate option. But if you want to make things (a lot) easier, we recommend using a writing tool that's designed for writing books.

As mentioned above, we recommend Atticus . It is an all-in-one writing and formatting software made by yours truly with help from some truly awesome developers. With Atticus, you don't have to worry about setting margins or page size — or even font type. This is all stuff that you can do with a few clicks of the mouse when you're ready to export your finished product.

It includes a bunch of templates that will automatically format your book with the click of a button. And you can export it as a PDF file, a DOCX document for use in Word, or the industry-standard EPUB file for selling your book through online retailers.

Essentially, it's like Word but without all the unneeded options — and a bunch of other options that you’ll actually use! It's easy to use and makes everything from writing and editing to formatting and exporting a breeze.

But we know Atticus might not be ideal for everyone. You can check out our article on the best book writing software here for more options.

If you're writing a blog post or a short story for online publication, Microsoft Word is a pretty great option. But things start to get a little unwieldy when you're working on a long document. Plus, you'll need to use a book formatting software for a professionally formatted book.

But if Word is what you're comfortable with and you just want to get the words on the page, why wait!? Use the basics above and get to writing today!

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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template for writing a novel on word

Create a booklet using a Word template

Whether you want to create a book project for school or a booklet for an event, consider using a booklet template available in the publishing templates collection . You can customize the booklet templates to fit your needs. For best results, customize the template before you start your writing project. That way there’s less clean-up work to do if tables or other objects in your document don’t fit quite right.

Create a booklet using a template

Go to File > New .

Type booklet in the search box and select the search icon.

When you find the template you want to use, select it and choose Create .

Click File > Save a copy to save your booklet.

To print your booklet, go to File > Print . Booklet templates are designed to make sure the page sequence and orientation will be correct if you print them on both sides of the paper, flipped along the short edge.

If you have a double sided printer, just print the document. If you have a single sided printer:

Go to File > Print .

Change the setting to Manual Print on Both Sides .

Print one side.

When prompted, remove the printed pages and put them back into the input tray.

Important:  Note the side and orientation of the printed pages, and flip it accordingly. If in doubt, print just 4 pages as a test. So if you get it wrong, you only waste one sheet of paper.

Go to File > New from Template .

In the top right corner of the window, type booklet where you see Search All Templates . You'll find several options from templates.office.com.

Type keywords into the search box to find related templates.

When you find the template you want to use, double-click it, or select it and click Create .

The template is downloaded to Word, and you are ready to begin working on your booklet.

Click File > Save As to save your booklet.

Note:  If you want to print your booklet, click File > Print . Booklet templates are designed to make sure the page sequence and orientation will be correct if you print them on both sides of the paper, flipped along the short edge.

Booklet: Page numbering tips


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Microsoft's Best Templates for Writers

Jump-start your writing for novels, poetry, or business proposals

 Romilly Lockyer / Getty Images

Find useful drafting, organization, marketing, and communication tools in the gallery of Microsoft’s free templates for personal, creative, academic, and professional writing projects.

Using a template can quickly get you started so that you can focus on writing. Microsoft has hundreds of templates that may interest you, but now you search through the Office program interface itself rather than through an online template site.

Story or Novel Manuscript Template for Microsoft Word

This Story or Novel Manuscript template for Microsoft Word provides a quick way to jump right into the writing process.

While it is a generic form, and you should check each publisher's manuscript requirements before submission, this template gives you enough formatting to hit the ground running with your ideas.

Open Microsoft Word and select  Office or File in the menu bar, followed by  New From Template . Then use the  Search field to search for this template by keyword .

Blog Post Template or Printable for Microsoft Word

Did you know you can write a blog in Microsoft Word ? 

It's even easier using this Blog Post template for Microsoft Word. When you use it, a new document opens that looks mostly blank, but it includes new menus for linking and posting to your Blogger, WordPress, or similar online blogging account.

This template is available by opening Word and selecting File > New From Template . Then enter blog in the Search field. 

Email Newsletter Template for Microsoft Publisher

Writers who are used to Word can connect with their blog followers or anyone else on their list of email contacts with a newsletter. The Email Newsletter template for Microsoft Publisher gets you started with a professional layout.

You can send information on book promotions, news releases, upcoming events, inspiration for other writers, and anything else that you find relevant.

This design is just one of many. Look for other email-ready newsletter designs as you click through this link.

Open Publisher ,   select New From Template and search by keyword.

Writing Project Timeline Planning Template for Microsoft Excel

Combine your many projects in one visual, easy-to-track document with this Writing Project Timeline Planning template for Microsoft Excel . This type of file is known as a Gantt chart .

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Productivity tips

How to write effective AI art prompts

Hero image with an icon representing AI art

AI art prompting is much more of an art than a science, but I've put together a starting point for you. I'll start with the structure of a good AI art prompt, and then I'll give you some starting words and expressions you can use to make images go from "ok…?" to "wow."

The structure of an AI art prompt

Part 1: Image content

Part 2: Art form, style, and artist references

Part 3: Additional details

Advanced AI prompt tools and strategies

Where to find AI art prompt ideas

Automate your image generation

Follow along: Want to turn your reading session into a crash course? Take a look at our list of AI art generators and pick your favorite. Each AI model works with prompts differently (and each attempt will be different, too), so you'll see variations in your results.

I've seen a lot of unique AI image prompts over the past few months, but all of them share a set of common characteristics. Here's the general structure, in order of writing:

[image content/subject, description of action, state, and mood],  [art form, style, and artist references],  [additional settings, such as lighting, colors, and framing]

As you add more elements to your prompt, be sure to separate them with commas. This will help the AI model interpret your prompt, and it will make it easier for you to remember what you've asked for.

How long should an AI art prompt be?

There aren't hard limits on how long or short a prompt should be: Midjourney works well with 60-word prompts, while Stable Diffusion does best if you stay below 380 characters. And AI image generators can get confused if you give them too much to work with. But play around with it—you never know what you'll find.

What style of language should you use in an AI art prompt?

Vivid details and concrete language produce more predictable results. Poetic or abstract wording can produce surprising results. Mix and match depending on your objectives.

As you become more experienced, you can play with the structure, length, and style of your image prompts, but first, let's drill down into each of the main components.

Start with the image content

The image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

Start by stating the subject or content of the image. This part is self-explanatory, and entering it into an AI image generation app will produce predictable results. Do you want a picture of a city at sunset? A green forest at dawn?

In addition to the content, you can also describe:

Actions that the subject is doing (e.g., looking up, playing, or running)

How they're doing these actions (e.g., joyfully, fearfully, or boldly)

The mood of the image (e.g., ominous morning rain, dangerous sunset mountains, nostalgic coffee table)

The more details you provide, the better your chances of getting a more interesting result. But it depends a lot on the model you're using, since each one interprets the input in a different way due to its training and configuration.

Include the art form, style, and artist references

Next up is guiding the AI model toward the overarching aesthetic. Is it a watercolor painting? A sculpture? A lo-fi image? When you add an art form to the subject of the image, you can already see a major shift in the end result. Here are a few common art forms to explore.


The photographic image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

Photography will be a recurrent prompt you'll use, especially if you're going for realistic pictures. There's a lot you can control here: you can state the framing, lighting conditions, and even the type of camera you're "using," down to the camera/lens brands and specifications.

The "painting" generated by the AI art prompt with DALL-E 2

You can explore all sorts of angles here:

Techniques (e.g., oil painting or watercolor)

Art movements (e.g., impressionism or Fauvism)

Artist names (e.g., Cézanne or Kahlo)

For unique results, try mixing techniques, movements, and artists together. (And if you're publishing the images later, consider crediting the artists you used for inspiration.)


The illustrated image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

Other illustration types to try: 

Pencil drawing

Charcoal sketch

Digital art

The digital art image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

Film stills

The film still image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

There are plenty of other art forms you can explore. Some examples:

Textile art

Installation art

Ceramic art


Mix, match, and be amazed.

Add more details to your prompt

Do you like to tweak everything to the last detail? After adding the subject and art form, there are plenty of extras you can add to your prompt to further influence the end result.

Framing refers to how the subject or content is positioned in the image, and you can use it to influence image composition. 

It can be challenging to control the framing depending on how you write the first part of your prompt. For example, if you're having trouble with close-ups, try stating the subject first and describing the background after . Here's an example.

First, I tried using this prompt: Person standing inside a forest fire, strong determined attitude, close-up shot, realistic. Midjourney didn't care much about "close-up shot":

The silhouette of a person in the distance standing among a forest fire

Then, I moved a few pieces around in the prompt: " Person with strong determined attitude, forest fire background , close-up shot, realistic." Now that the prompt says the forest fire is in the background, it's getting closer to what I wanted:

A close-up of a person staring at the camera with a fire in the background

The expressions used for film directing and camerawork apply here, so you can use "wide shot," "point-of-view," or "dutch angle," among others.

Want more control over image composition? Try AI outpainting to expand an image beyond its limits and then crop it in the exact way you want it.

An image of bananas generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

Especially in photography, lighting is critical and can change the look and feel of an image. Consider tweaking your lighting prompts using "soft light," "hard light," or even "dramatic lighting." You can also mention times of day, such as "morning," "sunset," or "golden hour."

Color scheme

A purple and green city generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney

While controlling lighting already introduces a level of color control, you can also play with color schemes to influence the color of objects, light, or the entire image look and feel.

Level of detail and realism

The image generated by the AI art prompt with Midjourney with the 8k prompt

Prompts like "4k" or "8k" give the AI model the instruction to increase the level of detail in the image. (Keep in mind that it doesn't increase the actual resolution of the image output.)

You can also use the "Unreal Engine" prompt to get the familiar feel of images rendered using that game engine. And if your photos aren't looking believable enough, make sure to add "realistic" or "ultrarealistic" to your prompt.

Midjourney parameters

Midjourney (which you use via Discord) accepts a few extra parameters at the end of the prompt. Type a double hyphen or an em dash followed by the parameter name and the value. Here are a few useful ones:

--chaos changes how varied the results will be, with 0 being the least varied and 100 the maximum. For example, --chaos 80 would be highly varied.

--no handles negative prompts, meaning you can write what you don't want to see in the image. For example, --no buildings will prevent the model from drawing buildings.

--ar changes the aspect ratio of the image. For example, --ar 16:9 would render the image in the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Here's the full list , but keep in mind that these are specific to Midjourney. If you're using DALL·E 2 , DreamStudio, or another tool, there will be a different set of parameters (and they'll be presented differently too).

Advanced tools and strategies for AI art prompts

Now that we've gone through the basics, here are a few tools and suggestions to help you reach Legendary Imaginator status:

Reverse engineer real images to find new prompts. CLIP Interrogator is an AI model hosted at Hugging Face that takes an image and gives you a text prompt based on its content. You can then use that result to build more detailed prompts and enter them into text-to-image models.

Image-to-image. Text-to-image is just one option. You can also provide an image as inspiration and further tune it with text or model controls. Try it with Runway .

AI outpainting. You can upload an image to an AI outpainting model, and it will expand it beyond the limits of the frame, creating a larger image. This is useful to get the exact framing you want or to create a larger image from a smaller detail. It works with non-AI-generated images too. Try it with neural.love .

Fine-tune generation settings. Some models, like Stable Diffusion , let you adjust advanced generation settings. For example, by increasing or decreasing the number of steps, you can change how processed the final image should be. More steps usually lead to more detail.

Train your own AI image model. Tools like Leap AI let you train your own image model, so it can better match a unique look and feel you're attempting to create, reducing the variance in outputs that you get from "public" image generation models.

Edit images with AI. You can select parts of images and change them using a text prompt. Try it out in Canva or in Photoshop .

Use ChatGPT to generate better text prompts. Yes, you can use AI to prompt AI. When you ask an AI chatbot to write prompts for you, you may be able to unlock new aesthetics, compositions, or subject combinations that you didn't think were possible.

When writing your first prompts, it's challenging to visualize the exact results you're looking for. More than that, it may take multiple tries until you get something usable. That's tough if you're not using a free AI art generator and there's a cost to the experimentation—credits fly out fast when you're having fun.

There are also lots of places to browse a collection of images and corresponding prompts. Here are some of my favorites:

neural.love 's public library (scroll down and click on the images to see the prompts) 

Websites like Lexica for Stable Diffusion prompts.

Midjourney's Discord channels

You'll get great hints on how each model interprets prompts, and you'll draw inspiration as you read original descriptions and fresh detail combos.

AI art prompt examples

And just to make things easier on you, here are all the AI art prompts I mentioned in this article:

A child playing on a sunny happy beach, their laughter as they build a simple sandcastle, emulate Nikon D6 high shutter speed action shot, soft yellow lighting.

Impressionist oil painting of a cute robot.

Illustration of dinosaurs drawn by a child, the illustrations are cute and heartwarming

Isolated convenience store in the middle of the desert at sunset, car parked outside, lo-fi, nostalgic.

Buildings on fire, old film still

Person with strong determined attitude, forest fire background, close-up shot, realistic.

Lonely evil bananas on a table, hard light chiaroscuro, realistic.

A futuristic hopeful busy city, purple and green color scheme.

A distant galaxy filled with tiny colorful stars, a blue, Earth-like planet in the foreground, realistic, colorful, 8k, trending on artstation.

Automate your art generation

Once you lock in on your prompting strategy, you can automate parts of your image generation workflows with Zapier. Here are a few workflows to give you some ideas, but you can connect apps like DALL·E , Leap AI , and Hugging Face to all the other apps you use at work.

Create images with DALL-E for new Airtable records

Airtable logo

Post new images generated in Leap AI to Slack channel messages

Leap AI logo

Generate images based on Google Form responses and save them in Google Sheets

Google Forms logo

Zapier is a no-code automation tool that lets you connect your apps into automated workflows, so that every person and every business can move forward at growth speed. Learn more about how it works .

Writing the best AI image prompts

AI image generation is a lot of fun, and it's getting better—and more accessible—at each turn. Make sure you think about the ethics of using AI-generated images , and explore every possibility.

It can take a few tries to get right. But as long as you have an experimentation mindset and keep iterating, you'll be able to progressively reach better and better results with your AI art prompts.

Now, please excuse me while I go back to trying to put the Eiffel Tower on Mars .

Related reading:

The best AI productivity tools

AI at Zapier: 12 apps that will revolutionize the way you work

Stable Diffusion vs. DALL·E 2: Which image generator is better?

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Miguel Rebelo picture

Miguel Rebelo

Miguel Rebelo is a freelance writer based in London, UK. He loves technology, video games, and huge forests. Track him down at mirebelo.com.

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‘Poised somewhere between provocation and seduction’ … Martin Amis.

‘Damn, that fool can write’: how Martin Amis made everyone up their game

He exploded into the tweedy world of literature, a young, pouting and outrageously brash crusader for prose. Our writer remembers her encounters with the novelist, whose smarts and chutzpah confounded his peers

‘Y ou’ll be reading me every now and then at least until about 2080, weather permitting. And when you go, maybe my afterlife, too, will come to an end, my afterlife of words.” So wrote Martin Amis in his heavily autobiographical final novel Inside Story in 2020. With a body of work spanning 50 years, he leaves 15 novels, two short-story collections, one memoir and seven book-length works of journalism and history. Did posterity matter to him? Hell, yes. “There is only one value judgment in literature: time,” he insisted.

Back in 2009, I called Amis – as editors all over the world would have been calling or emailing leading writers on Saturday night – to ask if he might write a tribute to the American novelist John Updike, who had just died. Time was tight and we were aiming high, but as with every major (and not so major) event at that time, Amis was the writer everyone was after. And on Updike, the last postwar American literary giant? It had to be him. Happily, he felt a duty to contribute to what Gore Vidal called “book chat”.

“Call me back in 10 minutes,” he said in his unmistakable transatlantic drawl (he hadn’t yet made America his permanent home). Had he said he would do it? Would he file in time for tomorrow’s front page? I wasn’t sure, but duly called him back 10 minutes later, hiding in a cupboard in the bowels of the Guardian, where we went to make private calls.

“Ready?” he said. And – I may have imagined this bit – lighting a cigarette, he proceeded to dictate a whole piece, replete with semi-colons, quotation and his hallmark neologisms (not for Amis the correspondent’s punctuation-less cablese). He spoke and I typed. “There aren’t supposed to be extremes of uniqueness – either you are or you’re not – but he was exceptionally sui generis ,” he drawled .

A daring take on the Holocaust … Martin Amis at the Booker ceremony in 1991, holding a copy of Time’s Arrow – the only one of his books nominated for that award.

We repeated the exercise barely three months later when another of his great heroes and friends, JG Ballard, died . This time we made it to over 1,000 words. “Very few Ballardians (who are almost all male) were foolish enough to emulate him. He was sui generis ,” Amis enunciated with verbal italics. “What was influential, though, was the marvellous creaminess of his prose, and the weird and sudden expansions of his imagery,” he continued. “Marvellous creaminess”, “weird and sudden expansions” – how did he do that?

OK, so he had written at length about both Updike and Ballard before. And he was routinely invoked as a successor to both. But still. Of all the writers I’d worked with during many years as a literary editor, Amis was the only one I knew who could pull that off. The sheer smarts and chutzpah of composing a piece off the cuff, without even going to the bother of turning on the computer, was quintessential Amis.

He will for ever be remembered as part of the “Class of 83” , the inaugural Granta Best of Young British novelists list that also included Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie and Kazuo Ishiguro. “He has had a baleful influence on a whole generation,” bemoaned AS Byatt of Amis in 1993, as one of the Granta judges tasked with finding successors a decade later. Not because he was a bad writer but because so many had been foolish enough to try to emulate him (to echo Amis on Ballard).

If, as is often said, this generation of writers were the closest the books world gets to having rock stars, then Amis was Mick Jagger . Those 70s photographs (The Rachel Papers years) of him pouting extravagantly at the camera, cigarette dangling – you can almost smell the smoke and ambition – announced a changing of the guard. His pose, like his prose, poised somewhere between provocation and seduction. Where the literary world had been grey and tweedy, presided over by ageing grandees (Amis Sr, William Golding, Anthony Burgess, Iris Murdoch), now it was young and outrageously brash, and Amis was the frontman.

Amis and Salman Rushdie in 1995.

At an event in 2020 with Salman Rushdie , Rushdie asked him if, back in those heady days, he felt part of a gang. “That’s the way ‘movements’ start,” Amis replied. “Ambitious young drunks, late at night, saying, ‘We’re not going to do that any more. We’re going to do this instead.’” And with this “gang” – which also included his great friend, the late journalist Christopher Hitchens , and Ian McEwan – the young drunks went on to became “the old devils”, to borrow a Kingsley Amis title, that pretty much comprised the literary establishment for years.

“There was a feeling,” he said of this time, “that there were places to go that the English novel didn’t go, and was being too fastidious about.” And he spent the next few decades making sure he was the first to go there. Who but Amis could have had such a firm grasp on the collar of what John Self, the narrator of Money , called “the panting present” to have written a novel of that title at the beginning of the 80s, that decade of Thatcherite greed? And then envisage ecological collapse in London Fields at the end of it? Which writer would have dared to take on the Holocaust (Time’s Arrow in 1991, and The Zone of Interest in 2014) and Stalin’s Great Terror (Koba the Dread in 2002), with, as Tim Adams put it in the Observer, “his full ironist’s swagger” ? Or to have imagined the last 24 hours of 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta in The Second Plane in 2008?

In his crusade for fine writing and his declaration of war on cliche, Amis made everyone up their game. Over the years, critics have fallen over themselves trying to outsmart Mart: lobbing hyperbole and volleying adverbs (Amis was a huge tennis fan). “So just how good is Martin Amis ?” “Why do we love to hate Amis?” they would come out, strutting, pistols cocked. But Amis was already in the bar.

For a time, he seemed happy to fill the role of novelist as public intellectual. He riffed elegantly on everything from the porn industry to the Royal family. “He is always putting it up to you somehow, making the reader feel brilliant too. Or a bit stupid,” wrote Anne Enright of his collection of criticism The Rub of Time in 2017. “This is the best fun going when everyone is drunk, as they seemed to be in the 1980s, and literary London was like one long dinner party in which everyone knew where you went to school.”

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‘Anyone who’s any good is going to be funny’ … Amis at home in 1981.

Inevitably, the poster-boy turned into a target, and at one point Amis the dazzling young stylist looked in danger of being overshadowed by Amis the grumpy old controversialist, with ill-judged comments on Islamism and euthanasia. But after what he called an “eisteddfod of hostility” from the British press and his move to New York, he largely reserved his opinions for his writing.

He was planning a collection of short stories on the subject of slavery in the US – “boy will I cop it,” he said in a recent Guardian interview – as well as returning to the Third Reich for a third time with a “modest novella”. And yet, despite many years as Britain’s foremost literary celebrity and contrarian, Amis somehow managed never to win the Booker (he was only shortlisted for Time’s Arrow) nor to be cancelled.

Of his instinct to shock, he observed: “Every novel worth reading is funny and serious. Anyone who’s any good is going to be funny. It’s the nature of life. Life is funny.” And it is clear from the irrepressible punchiness of his prose that he had a blast writing. “It seems to me a hilariously enjoyable way of spending one’s time,” he said. And so, at his daring comic best, he was great fun to read.

The insolence, the silliness, the seriousness, the grotesqueness, the erudition and audacity were all swept up in those inimitable sentences and corralled into order by his cleverness with form. As Enright summed up in her review: “Damn, that fool can write.” And, like an imposing building slightly worn with time, Amis changed the landscape of literature so dramatically that it is hard to remember what it looked like before. And for all the macho-ness of his writing, his influence can be seen in writers of the generation that followed, for instance his friend Zadie Smith.

“He was a talismanic figure for my generation of novelists, and an inspiration to me personally,” says another friend, Kazuo Ishiguro. “He was famous, notorious even, for his biting satire and swaggering prose, but there was always a surprising tenderness not far beneath that surface. His characters were always yearning for love and connection. I believe ultimately his work will age well, growing over the years.” We will be reading him for decades, weather permitting.

But to go back to 2009 and Amis’s closing words on Updike: “His style was one of compulsive and unstoppable vividness and musicality. Several times a day you turn to him, as you will now to his ghost, and say to yourself, ‘How would Updike have done it?’ This is a very cold day for literature.”

And so it is today. Younger writers will ask: “How would Amis have done it?” He was exceptionally sui generis .

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