Planning and Preparing a Novel

by Miranda Wuestefeld

Every writer is different in the way he or she plans and writes a novel.  I feel like the best feedback I can get is from other writers.  I like hearing what they do when they plan a novel and what steps they take to make their novel complete.  Therefore, I am going to share how the process of my mind works toward planning, storyboarding, and what I think is a beneficial way to begin a novel.
First: Take some time just to think.
Find a quiet spot where you won’t get distracted.  Bring along a notebook and pencil just in case you come across some fantastic ideas while in your thinking session.  Sit and think about you idea.  Think about where you want it to go and what you know about it so far.  Go through a rough plotline in your mind.  This should make you excited and eager to start writing.  After you’ve taken some time to think through the masterpiece you want to create, it’s time to take some notes.
Next: Grab your laptop or a notebook.
Write out a rough storyboard, maybe even in just a list format.  It will probably change by the time the novel is complete, so no need to make this all fancy.  This is the part that helped me out the most.  Storyboarding gave me a direction to head in.  It gave me goals to reach.  Having your plans written out in front of you while you’re writing will keep you headed in the right direction.  It can help create organization and a path to follow.
I think of a storyboard as a map, a GPS.  When you let yourself have some guidelines, it reduces the feeling of being lost.  You can see where the map will lead you so you know where you want to go without wandering around aimlessly or staring at a blank page not sure what to write.  When I get stuck, I always have my blueprints and maps to refer back to.  I can always figure something out from there, and then I’m off writing again.  I’ve gone back to look at my storyboard so many times.  What helps me most about it is that I can see how it’s broken up and what I want in each chapter.  I can see the skeletal structure and remind myself of the order of events.
Remember: Don’t be too restricting.
Planning is an important step but I don’t think it necessarily all has to be confined to before the novel is written.  Oh no, planning and storyboarding should happen throughout the process of writing.  Don’t be afraid to update the storyboard or change things.  The storyboard is your guideposts throughout your journey.  Planning lets you add new ideas and get rid of old ones that don’t fit the pattern you’re developing.  You don’t have to stick to your original plans.  Make all sorts of new plans!
While I personally find writing without a plan leads me to end up in unnecessary tangents, other people need that freedom to write.  Maybe you need to write a little to figure out what you’re story will be about.  That’s perfectly fine too!  Let the writing spew forth and pick out ideas you like.  Piece together a story.  Discover your characters.  I personally think prewriting and storyboarding is half the fun.  It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen.  What do you think?  How do you write?
[Editor’s Note:  To hear about the benefits of not planning, check out today’s other blog post by Jennifer Perov.  To read about plotting a series, check out Monday’s post by Meredith Sims.  Tune in tomorrow to hear Alec’s advice on tranferring a script to prose! -Lauren Burch]
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One Comment on “Planning and Preparing a Novel”

  1. Lauren Burch says:

    I like your GPS analogy, and I really like that you brought up that guidelines for a story are just that: guidelines. Too often I feel people get stuck in writer's block because they feel confined by their plans, and it's really refreshing to hear that those plans aren't set in stone, especially in a post about planning.


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