Starting a sizable writing project can be daunting. There’s so much planning, plot organizing, pacing and characterization to do. In the beginning, it seems impossible to get all of this done. I’m here to tell you that it’s completely possible. YOU CAN DO IT!
After a while, plot ideas will pop into your head while you’re brushing your teeth and character back story points will announce themselves during road trips. A tiny tidbit of information that could change an entire story relationship dynamic will skydive into your brain during your morning commute. And let’s not forget the new location you’ll think up over your 2:00 pm coffee.
This is, in my opinion, one of the best parts of being a writer. Thinking about your story makes even the most monotonous meeting entertaining.
Here are a few tips I’ve come across, and am still using myself in the process of planning my work-in-progress novel, that might help you with your planning process.Please note that this is, of course, not the only way to go about your planning process. 😊
Keep A Book Journal
This has got to be my favorite piece of advice. Grab a three-ring binder, spiral bound or pocket notebook and use it to jot down your plot ideas, subplot plans, character profiles and chapter progression. Heck, maybe you’ll even scribble a map in there somewhere. Let your creativity run wild.
*Side Note* In my opinion, three-ring binders make it a lot easier to organize and reorganize your ideas without it getting really messy. But that’s just me. 😀
1. Plot Comes First
Plan out the main story of your novel first. Yes, characters and love triangles are important in novel planning, but they have their place. Take your time and decide EXACTLY what you want to do with your story and EXACTLY where you want it to go. Use this time to write out a rough synopsis for your entire story.
🙂 Book Journaling for the win! 🙂
2. Character Profiles Come Second
Okay, so now you have your main plot planned out. By now, you probably have a pretty good idea of your characters and what their lives are like. Perfect! Write it down. Here are a few of the headings I use when profiling my characters. (I grabbed a few of these from Jenna Moreci, author of Eve: The Awakening. This isn’t sponsored or anything; I just love her and her writing advice. You can check out one of her YouTube videos on character profiling here and visit her sample character profile on Tumblr here. She goes into extreme details.)
I usually use the following headings when planning a character:
Personal Motivation [for moving through the story]:
3. Subplots Come Third
After you’ve considered your main plot, *hopefully* written it down for future reference, and outlined your main cast of characters, it’s time to think about where you want to put each of your subplot points in your story progression. As a pretty obvious example, romantic conflict usually doesn’t come before characters become romantic. Uprisings usually don’t come before a terrible leader, nor can the mother-in-law work her wily ways before the two spouses get married. Plan this carefully. Subplots help drive the story!
4. World-building Comes Fourth
This way you have plenty of time to think about what’s happening in your world, what your people are like, what they’re doing and the type of landscape they’re working with. Describe it, draw it out, mind-map it, Pinterest similar landscapes or do whatever it takes to get a clear picture of your story world in your head. There are some wonderful articles out there on world-building. Be sure to check them out.
Author Vivien Reis (again, not sponsored) has an excellent YouTube video about world-building that you can find here.
I’ve written a post about developing a setting that includes a lot of different tips for world-building, you can find it here.
These are a few of the things to consider when planning out your novel. Get these down and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a fantastic, realistic and engaging story that your readers will love. Please let me know if you’ve used any of these tips in the past and what you thought of them! Do they help your planning process? Drop a comment and let me know 🙂