Urban Fantasy Plot Template
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Projected Word Count: 75,000 – 100,000
Number of Chapters: 26
Number of Scenes: 55
Template Length: 40 pages, 17,700 words
Creating an Urban Fantasy Book Title and Series Name
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Title: It should hint at both danger and magic, and it should be fairly short. You want a punchy title. Urban Fantasy is punchy in general, so that pace needs to begin with your title.
- E.g., Magic Rises, Sin & Magic, Moon Called, Fallen Angel
- The series name is typically the Female Main Character’s (FMC) name, but it can also be a location name or a FICTIONAL police or paranormal enforcement unit’s name.
- E.g., A Faith Blackwood Novel, Hellbound in New Orleans, Sci-Ops Enforcement
POV: Always first-person, usually past tense.
Sample Blurb Outline - See below for a description of each component.
Punchy Tagline (E.g., She’s always ready for a fight.)
<FMC> is a <type of job she does> who makes her living <doing something related to magic>. But when <a crime happens>, her quest to <solve the crime> draws her into <a dangerous situation involving one or more magical factions> within <name of city>’s magical world. <Under immense pressure to solve the crime>, <FMC> realizes she’s <in over her head>—but she <has to solve the crime because of a very important reason>.
Type of job she does – Magical mercenary, auto mechanic, etc. There will be more on this in the FMC section.
Does something related to magic – Capturing magical criminals, works on cars fueled by magic, etc.
A crime happens – A kidnapping, murder, missing magical artifact, etc.
Solve the crime – Find the missing person, the murderer, or the missing artifact, etc.
A dangerous situation involving one or more magical factions – Give some details about the conflict between magical factions. You want readers to realize there is more going on in this world. It’s not just about the crime.
Name of city – Urban fantasy needs to be set in a large urban city. It should never be set in a small town.
Under immense pressure to solve the crime – Something terrible will happen if she doesn’t solve the crime. These are the stakes. If a kidnapper has been taking people, then he may start killing them. If a murderer is on the loose, more people are going to be killed. If a dangerous magical artifact is missing, it needs to be found before it is used to destroy the city.
In over her head – She is up against a powerful magical enemy, or she’s immersed in tricky faction politics. Either way, she feels overwhelmed by the situation.
Has to solve the crime because of a very important reason – Again, this goes back to the stakes. This is the ultimate bad outcome. Her life is in danger. Other people will die. The city will be destroyed by magic. The stakes have never been higher. She has to solve the crime; otherwise, there will be dire consequences.
She’s always ready for a fight.
Laura Williams is a mercenary for hire who makes her living hunting down magical criminals. But when her mentor is murdered, her quest to find the killer draws her deep into San Francisco’s dark, magical underworld. Hired by the Order of the Protectorate to solve the crime, Laura realizes she must navigate faction politics while evading a dangerous enemy. If she can’t find the killer before he strikes again, the magical world will descend into chaos, and no one will be safe.
<First Last Name> - FMC
- NOTE: This outline is specifically for the type of UF that has a FMC. UF’s featuring a Male Main Character are slightly different, particularly when it comes to his romantic relationships.
- She is a total badass. Some people are in awe of her, while others are intimidated by her. She’s beautiful but in a non-conventional way. She may be physically strong.
- She’s smart and resourceful. She is not a damsel in distress waiting for a man to save her. But she’s willing to accept help when she knows she needs it.
- She carries weapons and is really good at using them. E.g., guns, daggers, swords, knives, etc. She may name her favorite weapon the way some people name their cars. Her weapons may contain their own magic, or she may be able to infuse her weapons with magic. E.g., she might have a dagger that glows whenever there are vampires around.
- She uses magical wards to protect her home.
MORE INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED ABOUT HER AND ALL THE OTHER MAIN CHARACTERS.
Magical Organizations/Magical Factions/Magical Councils
- There are at least three councils of magical creatures plus at least one council/organization tasked with keeping law and order in the city. (E.g., a council of vampires, a council of shapeshifters, a council of witches, a council of magical enforcement. If humanity is aware of the supernatural realm, there may be a human law enforcement division dedicated to supernatural crimes, etc.)
- The most common types of creatures in Urban Fantasy are: vampires, shapeshifters, witches, and fae. You can have other types of creatures in your book, but it should have at least three types.
- Each council only represents one type of magical creature. You’d typically never have a council that represents both witches and vampires. There would be one council for witches and a separate one for vampires.
MORE INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED IN THE TEMPLATE
The Magical World/Setting
- Supernatural creatures live amongst humans.
- If the government and the public know about the magical world, then they don’t approve of it.
- If the government and public don’t know about the magical world, then the supernatural creatures try to keep it a secret.
- The series is set in a densely populated metropolis like New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or a large, fictional city.
- Magic can affect technology, rendering it more useful or useless.
- All kinds of paranormal creatures can inhabit the world: vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, zombies, ghosts, fairies, witches, elves, trolls, flying snakes, creepy worms, ancient gods and goddesses, zombie animals, and more!
- There is always a central mystery or crime that needs to be solved in each book.
MORE INFORMATION WILL BE PROVIDED IN THE TEMPLATE
Tips for Setting Up the Rest of Your Series
- Somewhere in the story, add a throwaway line about something that becomes significant later in the series.
- The resolution of the mystery in Book 1 immediately leads into Book 2.
- One of the councils has a vendetta against the FMC because of events that happened in this book.
- She makes various deals in each book that come back to haunt her later in the series.
Goal – Complete a task in her ordinary world. (E.g., kill a vampire because she’s a vampire slayer, meet someone trying to hire her for her bounty hunting skills, she gets sucked into a bar fight and has to fight her way out, etc.)
Complication(s) – The FMC is going about her day doing something ordinary in her ordinary world when she’s interrupted by a magical disturbance or attack. (E.g., someone is trying to break through the wards on her house, a magical creature has managed to sneak past her defenses and is about to attack.) There might be a magical fight, or something blows up. The scene needs to start with some kind of action that shows off her magical skills or fighting abilities. The attack may be related to the crime that was committed in this book, or it might just be related to her regular job (e.g., if she’s a bounty hunter, she’s trying to capture a bounty and ends up in a fight).
Choice – Should she give up on fighting or keep going?
Consequences – She keeps going. She’s not about to back down from a fight. She is able to defeat or capture the foe.
POV Character’s Feelings – She’s determined to win the fight. She’s comfortable fighting, so if it’s a more challenging fight than normal, she’s mildly annoyed because she just wants to get it over with and win.
Goal – Decide whether she’s going to get involved in solving a magic-related crime.
Complication(s) – Once the dust settles after the fight from scene 1, FMC finds out about the crime. She may have been on her way to a meeting to find out about the job when she was attacked by the creature from the previous scene. Or maybe the creature was there to deliver a message to her about the crime but decided to attack her, too. The crime typically involves one of these things: Someone was killed, someone was kidnapped, or a magical artifact was stolen. The magical creature (e.g., vampire, shapeshifter, witch, fae) telling her about the crime wants her help to solve it. (E.g., they want to hire her because she’s a mercenary, or the victim of the crime is someone the FMC cares about.)
Choice – Should she take the assignment or get involved in hunting down the criminal(s)?
Consequences – She decides to get involved despite her reservations. She decides to take the case because either the money is too good to pass up, or she knew the victim and wants vengeance.
POV Character’s Feelings – She is deeply disturbed by the crime. She’s angry because her ordinary world is being disrupted.
NOTE: The following scenes (Scenes 3-6) can happen in any order, but they should all happen in scenes 3-6. Don’t move them past scene 6 in your book. Choose the order that makes the most sense for your particular story.
Also, in one of the scenes (Scenes 3-6), she meets the Love Interest #1. This needs to be incorporated into one of the scenes. You can pick which scene makes the most sense for your story based on the characters. The way to incorporate it is to copy/paste the Complication, Choice, Consequences, and POV Character’s Feelings from the Love Interest #1 scene into one of the other scenes. This action will happen in addition to the action already outlined in that scene.
Introduce Male Love Interest #1 Scene: Add this to one of the upcoming scenes #3-6. It should not be a separate scene. It needs to be incorporated into another scene since romance accounts for 10% or less of the plot.
Goal: Ignore his advances.
Complication(s) - A dangerously hot male character, Love Interest #1, is introduced. He’s already friends with the FMC, or she is just now meeting him for the first time. She notices how hot he is but doesn’t comment on it or do anything to indicate she’s attracted to him. He flirts with her.
Choice – Should she respond to his flirtation?
Consequences – No. He’s hot as hell, but there is some reason why she’s not interested in a relationship. (E.g., he’s her friend, or he’s some type of magical creature that she doesn’t want to be with.) She ignores his flirtation. You could also introduce him earlier in the book, but the introduction is brief and isn’t directly related to the main storyline.
POV Character’s Feelings – She’s very interested in the magical clue she found. It adds to the mystery and makes her wonder if she is on the right track. The clue might reinforce her suspicion of who the criminal might be, or it might make her question her earlier assumption. She’s not interested in romance and ignores Love Interest #1’s flirtation. She has more important things to worry about right now.
Goal – She begins looking for information that will help her solve the crime. (E.g., she goes to one of the magical councils to get something that will help her solve the crime.)
Complication(s) – She’s nervous about approaching the council. Heading into their lair is always dangerous. (E.g., they are vampires, and she never knows when they’re going to want to feed on her. Or, maybe they’re witches who use powerful magical wards to defend their coven’s mansion. She hates trying to get past their wards.) She gains access to the council and asks for either information or some other type of help. (E.g., her friend who died was a werewolf. She’s trying to find out if any vampires have died, too. She wonders if the death is an isolated incident or if there are other murdered people she isn’t aware of yet. Have there been other murders in the city recently?) The magical council is reluctant to get involved. She needs to work to convince them it’s in their best interests to help her. They agree to help, but with stipulations. They ask for a favor in return. Either the favor is explained at that moment, or they tell her that she will just “owe them” later. (NOTE—every time she talks to someone, they ask for a favor, or she owes them.)
Choice – Should she accept this bargain?
Consequences - She doesn’t like the stipulations but agrees because she needs their help. The help they provide could be anything from magical tracking skills to their ability to access every camera in the city, to access their records about the magical beast responsible for hurting/kidnapping the person that is important to her. They may have a special type of spell or artifact that she can use to hunt down the killer. Or she might ask them to simply let her know if they hear anything about the murder.
POV Character’s Feelings – She’s on high alert as she heads into the council’s lair. It’s a dangerous place, so she needs to be ready in case they attack. She hates negotiating with the council but manages to get what she wants. She’s happy about that, but she also wonders what they will want in return if they haven’t already told her. If she knows what they want, she doesn’t really want to give it to them, but she does it because she really needs their help. She doesn’t feel like she has a choice.
END OF THE SAMPLE - But in the actual outline, you get a scene-by-scene breakdown. 26 chapters with a total of 55 scenes.