How to Write a Novel in Google Docs

Are you a writer looking for a platform to write and organize your novel effectively? Google Docs may seem like a boring tool for writing a novel, but it’s actually packed with hidden features that can make your writing process fun, organized, and super aesthetic.

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In this article, find out how to write a novel in Google Docs and how to create a beautiful and functional works space for your writing, plotting, brainstorming, and character outlining.

Open your laptop and Google Docs, and let’s start!

The manuscript organization

Writing a novel is a complex task that requires a lot of organization and planning. One of the key elements of writing a successful novel is having a well-organized manuscript that is easy to navigate. While many writers use specialized software for this purpose, Google Docs can also be a powerful tool for organizing your manuscripts.

To set up your manuscript for easy navigation in Google Docs, start by creating a document for your entire manuscript. Rather than having one long document that goes on and on, break your manuscript up into separate chapters using headings. You can do this by selecting the title of each chapter and using the Style List to apply the “Heading 1” style. This will create an outline of your manuscript.

Notice a little icon on the left side of the screen and click on it. Now you can see all your chapters in the outline section! That’s how you are going to navigate your document with ease.

Ready to build your workspace?

Having a well-organized workspace is essential as well. With the rise of digital tools and cloud storage, it’s easier than ever to create a virtual workspace that mimics the organization of some popular (and rather expensive) writing tools you may know.

Building your workspace in Google Drive is easy

First, create a folder in Google Drive for your writing projects. You can name this folder anything you like, but for this example, we will call it “Novels.” Within this folder, you can create subfolders for each of your writing projects. For instance, if you are working on a new novel, you can create a folder with the new novel’s title within the “Novels” folder.

Once you have a folder for your project, you can start building out your virtual workspace. The first folder you will want to create is one for your manuscript. This is where you will store the main document for your project. You can upload your manuscript file to this folder or create a new document in Google Docs and name it accordingly.


Next, create a folder for your outlines.

Outlining is a crucial part of the writing process, and having a system in place to organize your ideas is crucial. One way to do this is by creating an Outline folder in Google Docs. In this folder, you can keep all of your outline documents in one place, making it easier to access and update them as you go.

Once you have created the folder, double-click to go into it and create a new document for your ideas. This document is where you can jot down all of your ideas without worrying about making sense or being neat.

Next, create a document for your 3-act story structure. You can either copy and paste it from a template or create one from scratch. This document will help you organize your story into three acts, making it easier to identify the beginning, middle, and end.

If you have a longer project, you can also create a document for your long outline. This document should include all of the plot points from your three-act structure, along with additional details to enhance each point.

Finally, create a folder for your subplots. Subplots are an important part of any story, and having a separate folder for them can help you keep track of each subplot’s progress.

Character profiles

Another essential folder to create is one with your character profiles. This folder should contain all of the characters included in your story. You can create subfolders for each character and include any relevant notes, images, or research related to that character.

PRO TIP: Use some of the pre-designed and customized character profile templates that include all the necessary information about your character, such as their desires, fears, misconceptions, objectives, relationships, and conflicts.

When you find an online template you like, you should make a copy of it and rename it with the name of the character. Then, duplicate it and use it for as many characters as you need.

Settings, research, and note folders

In addition to these folders, you can also create folders for settings, research, and notes. These folders can help keep your writing organized and provide quick access to important information.

The first folder we will discuss is “Settings“. This folder is where you can keep all the information related to the world-building or the aesthetic of your story’s setting. You can create a new document for each setting and add images to make it more visual. You can also upload an image and use it as the setting profile. However, keep in mind that this folder can be as detailed or as simple as you want it to be.

The next folder is “Research“. In this folder, you can add all the research material you need for your writing project. Link web pages or copy the content of the web page and paste it into a Google Doc to keep all your research at your fingertips. This folder is especially useful for writers of historical fiction, sci-fi, or fantasy, where the research material can be extensive.

The last folder is “Notes“, where you can keep all the miscellaneous notes that do not fit into the other folders. This folder can contain anything from writing style notes to soundtrack inspiration, and it can become messy over time. However, it is an essential folder for writers to keep all their ideas and notes in one place.


VoilĂ ! That is how you organize your novel in Google Docs!

We hope you now have a more comprehensive understanding of how much you can customize your workspace in Google Drive. Many writers who use Google Docs often miss out on the opportunity to fully personalize their writing process, as they limit themselves to just one long document.

By utilizing headers and linking in the sidebar, organizing a manuscript becomes much more efficient and manageable. Therefore, it is essential to explore and use the various customization options available to enhance your writing experience.

So, do not hesitate to experiment and make the most out of Google Docs for your writing projects.