This is a new series where I write about the writing process behind a novel. Today it is the process that occurs before the novel is written:- the planning stage. Most authors ignore this stage, so did I, until my most recent book-Mercy of Gods and Men.
Now I know, you want to jump into writing a novel the moment you conceive the idea because writing is fun and all that, I know, I experience it too. But you need to hold your horses there for quality’s sake.
So here is what you need to do in this stage:
decide your audience and genre.
Ask yourself, where do the characters and the plot begin at?
Where do they end up?
What are the character’s goals and motivations? What do they look like?
What is the driving conflict?
If your story is a simple linear plot then it will be a lot easier process than if it has multiple characters’ point of view in doing different things. But this process can be done in any kind of story, even if some stories may take more time than others. And this is phase one of planning done. Pat yourself on the back. You can add a couple of questions of your own if you feel like they will help you plan out your story better. You can also try and do this to your favorite books in order to practice this stage.
After this stage is done, you can start writing your book! But don’t get into the meat of it, just the introductory part that sets the plot rolling. This is to get a bearing of your style as a storyteller. It will help you a lot in phase 2 trust me because even if you are a veteran author, you sometimes go out of touch with your writing style and you need to figure yourself out in some way once again.
Phase 2: Make a document outlining the timeline and the sequencing of your plot. Do not go into complete details because no matter how much you try, the details are going to change as you write. So details are best left to improvisation. Instead you should outline the overall sequence of each and every scene, use maybe a line or two to describe your scene. Heck you can use a paragraph if you have that much patience. This document should not be any more than 10 pages long, if it is longer, it would mean you went into the details.
Now, it is a given that you will not stick to some parts of the original plan but that doesn’t matter, the point of this document is to give you direction and not to control your every move in the future.
Next: pre-production promotion and connection building