Hello fellow Writers
This week I'm expanding on last week's bit of advice, which was about being your best PR representative.
This week I'm focusing on getting your idea down on paper, and a firm vision of your novel in your mind, giving you confidence in your objective and an increased likelihood of completing it.
This sounds like a plan - It is a plan; a loose and malleable plan that you can complete on a single page of your notebook.
But i like to write organically - Me too. I write best when I'm not sure of what's around the corner, or I find my characters have developed their own agenda. These things make writing fun for me. It's important, to me, that writing is fun, and by fun I don't mean easy; writing can be frustrating and draining; a challenge. I like challenges. But...
The mistake I made - Writing blind was fine when I was a kid. I wrote for fun. I wrote what I wanted to read, which was mostly plotless accounts of how I was a hero, or my enemies had been destroyed. As I grew into adult fiction my stories adopted elements of plot, as I became familiar with them through reading. When I'd reached my twenties I'd started to manipulate plot devices and analyse character richness through back story and blah blah blah didn't finish a single story because, without a plan, I'd end up with plot branches obstructing each other, and time lines so tangled I'd have characters appearing at essential trigger points... after they'd died.
I didn't know what I was doing, because I was writing without a vision of the story.
Writing the plan takes three steps. The examples I use will be taken from the plan I would write, if I was rewriting a fantasy novel I didn't finish twenty years ago. The hand written manuscript is still under the bed.
Step one > What's it about? - By this I mean, what are you writing about at the deepest level, what philosophy or notion has made you want to write a novel?
Example: Acceptance equals unity. Unity equals strength.
Step two > What happens? - There are supposedly seven basic what happens foundations, that all stories are based on. You can see them listed on Wikipedia, where they are listed as plots. I personally consider them to be accounts, because they lack the elements of conflict and causality, but that's maybe just me.
The idea here is to capture your novel, from beginning to end, in one sentence (Gasp).
Example: In a world of magic and steel, three strangers to a city, and each other, are recruited to find a missing prince and see him crowned king.
This is an account of what happens, combining a there and back with a coming of age. It lacks elements of plot. It lacks answers to the question why?
Step 3 > What's the plot? - This is where you add the conflict and causality, the lies and betrayal, the broken hearts and the enemies becoming friends. All the things that turn a travel log into an adventure.
Write your novel in a paragraph.
Example: Three adventurers from conflicting origins are recruited by a prince to find his kidnapped older brother, due to be crowned in two days. He's chosen three capable strangers to the city, because he doesn't want regals to hear about the abduction and abstain from attending the coronation through fear of low security standards, destroying any chance to discuss essential trade relations between them. The adventurers, unable to address their differences, agree to go their separate ways, overcoming individual obstacles and gathering clues in their own personal quests. Reunited by their pursuits, the adventurers reluctantly combine their intel and suppose that the young prince plans to kill the heir and incriminate them. Upon finding the fleeing older brother, their suspicions are confirmed and a new plan is made to return the would be king safely, while exposing his evil younger brother's treachery. In their endeavours, the adventurers learn to combine their strengths and forgive each others trespasses to overcome mounting challenges and ultimately destroy a demon.
It's a long paragraph, I grant you, and not a particularly original plot, but it outlines my story in less than half a page, while leaving plenty of growing room for new twists, objectives and characters that will make my novel fresh and original. If you can, make a digital copy of your plan; you're going to want to keep hold of it. As you write your novel, each new idea you have can be tested in the simple outline where blockages and confusion will be easier to see.
With this basic vision of your novel, you can move forward, writing or planning further with a good idea of what you're doing.
I hope you find this helpful.
Thanks for reading and keep writing.