As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a massive plotter and I’m at the stage of planning a new project, so I thought it might be fun to explore how my brain works in the planning process (spoiler alert: I’m stuck at step 16). I’m going off what I’m doing right now and what I’ve done for various projects in the past… some of which even turned into full length manuscripts… though some did not 😉 So, obviously, this is completely fool proof and there’s no way it could go wrong 😉 Without further ado, here is my definitive guide on how to (try to) plan a book:
Step 1: Have an idea *POP* into your head like magic- which seems makes it seem like all the hard work is over, right? WRONG!
Step 2: Decide that you are going to do the unthinkable and turn this idea into a book…
Step 3: Time for some *brainstorming* to see if this idea has legs (NB step 3 can be step 1 for some people, because creative people are different, and not all ideas throw themselves in your face 😉)
Step 4: Keep repeating steps 1-3, jumping through the steps in any given order like you’re playing hopscotch.
Step 5: Spend a while (years) writing and compiling notes, adding characters, potentially world building and plenty of contradictory ideas. Make sure your notes aren’t logical at this point- you don’t want to make things easy for your future self!
Step 6: Get on with your life for a bit, work on other creative projects and generally forget about this vaguely fleshed out idea.
Step 7: Dig up/stumble across whatever you’ve been working on (whether it’s in a notebook or some random files on your computer). Have the sudden dawning realisation that you actually want to write this book and decide it will be your *next project*. And that means taking said idea seriously from here on out! So at this stage, do you a) make a schedule for when you can fit in writing time and/or b) rough draft an outline to get the ball rolling…?
Step 8: Neither! That was a trick question! You print out the notes, making a BIG DEAL out of that and promising to be proactive about it from now on! (all the while not really breaking any new ground)
Step 9: Stare at pages, trying to figure out how to write out a basic synopsis out of this contradictory mess (see, I told you it’d be helpful not to make it too logical!) Ah great- now you can either continue on with optional steps 10-11, or skip right ahead to 12…
Step 10: Discover that you did in fact write a helpful synopsis you entirely forgot about…
Step 11: Read it and realise how different it is from the notes
Step 12: *Weep*
Step 13: Devise a complex strategy, involving highlighters, where you colour code notes to match up all the existing ideas. Perhaps even pick up a stack of post its! Maybe get funky with an excel spreadsheet! Whatever you do, make sure it looks organised, but has no functional purpose.
Step 14: Try to make head or tail of your new notes
Step 15: Wait around for the Muses to strike…
Step 16: Give up and write a blog post about planning a novel (…ooh getting meta…)
Step 17: Get your shit together and decide just to write out all your ideas in a new synopsis.
Step 18: Type up into one great big messy document.
Step 19: Pause to give chapter titles (this is a great step because while it is entirely unnecessary, it’ll make you feel like you’ve been super clever and productive).
Step 20: Readthrough it with satisfaction (ignoring the inner voice that tells you that this may have to be revised later) and shove it in a drawer to be ignored until you can carve out some time to actually write the damn thing.
*Congratulations you have planned a novel*
(at least that’s the dream anyway 😉)