During November last year I took part in NaNoWriMo and wrote the first 50k of a book. One of the things I really struggled with during writing this was really knowing what to write and where. There are some people who an pants writing a novel well, for the most part I didn’t do bad but in the rush of it all I ran of things to say and lost my way a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong I wasn’t expecting a fantastic first draft – I knew what was going to be there at the end – a festering putrefied pile of poo in word form. But it’s a first draft.
It could have been better. So I have learned from this and this time for Nano I’m going to plan the story outline, define the characters, chapters and acts and see where it gets me so when I’m in the middle of it I’m not thinking things up and wasting time trying to work out what’s going where.
You know what they say – Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance – the 7 P’s of planning and preparation!
I have given some thought on how I’m going to do this – I’m more than likely not the first person to come up with this approach, or something similar but I came up with it while trying to work out how I can plan a story. I call it a story tree…
We’re writing a story right? In this story things will happen and there are characters and ideas and sub plots and a big plot all coming together to form the big thing that binds it all and that’s the story, this is essentially the blurb of a book, the basic foundation of what the story is going to be.
What’s the plot? What’s going on in this – expand on the blurb and flesh it out. Who’s the goody, the baddie why are they who they are? What’s the idea of the story, what happens in what order – is there a reason why? Note all this down becasue no matter how much I try I forget the details and later when I come back to it I need to know.
Each character has their own little story behind them, brought together into the plot by whatever set of circumstances that form the story line. Write a bit about each character, their back story, their likes and loathes. This bit could be a work in process as the story develops but keep this up to date as consistency can be difficult without noting all this because again we forget things.
Ideas come in all shapes and forms, scenarios, moments, concepts all of which are knitted into the story with probably a load left over that didn’t make it in. Note them, write them down, even if they’re not used in this story they can be used in another.
At this point we have the blocks to make a story, at this point I’ve created the sections or acts or whatever you want to call them of the story, what happens generally in each act. To who etc… then from this we can divide each act into further sections that can be a few thousand words long.
This bit is the chapters, section each act into the chapters in it. Title and a bit about what happens in each one. Nothing heavy or big becasue one this is all filled in with words then our full story would have been created. To save of editing and working too hard on this bit, I’ve made it out of post it notes, then I can move bits about until the order is right and it doesn’t come out as a total mess of scribble and arrows. But it’s whatever comes best to you.
This is briefly the approach I’m taking. I’m sure it will evolve and change, but I think it should work. Any keen planners out there? What methods do you use? Is it similar to this?
© Simon Farnell 2013 – 2021
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