This article originally appeared on the Examiner’s website.
Novel writing: Steps in planning a novel
There is as much advice about how to write and plan a novel as there are novels. Some of this advice is good and some not. All beginning writers eventually discover what works and what doesn’t for their writing. I hope a few of these tips help.
Brainstorming the plot – Take notes in a notebook for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. These notes are based on an idea for the novel. Try to come up with the first few scenes, the main characters, the setting, and a five to ten page description of what the story is about.
Outline – When I’ve got the synopsis completed and have a good idea of what I want the book to be about I begin outlining scenes. I find that I do my best outlining during periods where I have a large chunk of uninterrupted time. In the outline I write down scenes giving each new scene a sequential number. I intertwine the subplots of the novel such as scene 1, 4, 7, and 10 are about how the main character grew up. Scenes 2, 5, 8, and 11 are about a subplot that ultimately ties into the main character. Scenes 3, 6, 9, and 12 outline another subplot. I try to write down whatever scenes I come up with, and I don’t waste time worrying if they will fit the final story. It is always easier to cut than to invent.
Scene Flow – This is a numerical list of the scenes that contains a one sentence description. The finished document is small and can be carried around, and used to remind yourself of what comes next while writing.
Character Sketch – Once the outline is completed I sit down and plan out each of my major and minor characters. This sketch is a list of a character’s physical traits, fears, likes, manors, quirks, psychological demons, etc. It is much easier to write the novel once you’ve mapped out who your characters are, and you’ve spent some time getting to know them.
Organization of scenes – This can be done using index cards on a white board or a table, or you can use one of many software programs that have this feature as well as others.
Writing Software – Scrivener, Dramatica Pro, Contour, WriteWay, Storybase, Power Structure, Power Writer, Story Weaver, New Novelist, Final Draft, etc.
Good Luck with your writing.