I’m probably the worst book planner/drafter there is.
I’ll admit that right here and now. I know it. I’ve developed some nasty, nasty habits and I simply don’t care.
Many authors spend hours/days/weeks/months planning and plotting their stories, then invest even more time with some of the character generation sheets that abound on the internet.
I write a few, brief and simple notes AT BEST! Then get down to the bestest part about the whole thing – writing!
Now don’t get me wrong, everyone’s different and develops their own way of doing things and that’s great. I’m also not snubbing any of the plot/character generation sheets that are freely available online. They’re just not for me.
However, recently I’ve started to write more in-depth stories, telling the stories of secondary characters and weaving them into the main tale. Nothing new, authors have been doing it forever but now it’s my turn to grow up as a writer. After all if I can’t put the effort in to build a believable and interesting set of characters how can I expect people to fork over their hard-earned cash for it?
So How Do You Plan It?
My normal method for planning a book is to spend a few random sessions thinking about it, generating scenes and characters in my MIND. Then I grab my trusty notebook and novelty pen – I’m a bit like Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds with me pens. If it’s got feathers or a day-glow finish, it’s for me – and write a list of events that I want to happen.
Ooh a notebook and some pens! What am I doing? Facepalm.
That’s pretty much it!
I’ll give you a few seconds for the collective gasps of despair and shock before I plunge right on with…
Then I write. And write. And write some more. I do use the list but events get added, changed and cut completely until if you compared the original list to the completed book, there’d be virtually nothing to say they were ever related.
You’d need a Jeremy Kyle DNA test to prove it…
I’ve seen the error of my ways and adopted an entirely new way of doing things.
From now on I’m going to write a list of events that I want to happen…
Wait A Sec. Hold Up There. What Did You Just..?
You read that last bit right, I AM doing the same thing. But this time I’ve written a list/time-line for each major character I want to feature.
Umm…Okay But How’s That Any Different?
Because I’m then going to splice all these different strands together. Weave them masterfully into a single, glorious tale of unimaginable brilliance.
Yeah, Right. How You Planning To Do That Then?
Well you might have got the impression that I like lists (dunno where from) so I’ve taken each list and created a Super Ultimate Master List.
This SUML features all the items I want to happen, in order and jumps between the characters. Hopefully this will create suspense and keep readers interested while propelling the story forward.
Is That It? Really It?
I’m sure none of this is unique and millions of other writers use the same techniques but I thought I’d let you in on my method.
I hack it all up with scissors!
Literally, I grab a pair of scissors and like a vengeful partner, cut the lists up, keeping each character’s list separate to begin with. Then I start to arrange them in some kind of order, making sure it all makes sense – it’s no good having Bobby meet Peggy-Sue’s parents if Peggy-Sue hasn’t met Bobby yet!
Then I can read through the SUML (might Trademark that) and swap events/scenes until everything’s in just the right place.
You could do the same with Post-It notes (other bits of sticky paper are available) or with software like Scrivener, although I just can’t seem to be able to use that.
So then I have my final SUML (definitely got to Trademark that) which for ease of use, I make a final copy of and get to the business of writing.
And That’s Finally It?
Um…yep, that just about covers it. Not a particularly interesting post but lets you peek into my madness briefly and who knows it might just help someone else with their writing too.
Poppy’s Predicament will be available…well when I’ve written it. Until then you can follow me on here by email or on Twitter.