Novel PlanningI came to the conclusion that I haven't sorted out enough behind-the-scenes details to really ground my story in the story world and to people it with characters that jump off the page (or screen). I've been reading various articles by other writers to see what their plotting process looks like. I'm happy with some of the things I've developed for my own writing process (the storyboard and the island brainstorming list, in particular) but despite the preplanning I did for CampNaNo in April, everything feels very dusty and vague. Just ideas rather than strong story elements.
This morning, my husband very kindly took our toddler out for a long drive and I dragged my writing table into the sitting room in front of the gas heater and sat down to put together a writing blueprint-workbook-template thingummy with the aim of creating something that will help me to get a better handle on the three elements that go into creating a story: character, location, and events (events being the plot, the external action).
The Novel TemplateOver the years since I decided to take writing seriously, I've read a countless number of books and online articles. And I've found it difficult to keep track of all the approaches; you know, what Successful Writer A suggested, and how Successful Writer B kinda contradicted that with a different suggestion.... (Of course, there are as many different processes as there are writers. I know that NOW...)
But this morning, I put all the craft ideas and techniques that resonated with me into one 16-page template. It means that techniques I've learned and liked won't be forgotten. They'll be right there in the template, waiting for me to read them, get inspired, and capture the results on paper. And as I learn new techniques and approaches, I can incorporate them into the template as well.
Here are a few resources that inspired me when putting together my template:
- Susan Bischoff's Story Blueprint - This is an excellent resource that I used as the foundation for my own template (and have you read her Talent Chronicles books yet???)
- K.M. Weiland's ebook Outlining Your Novel
- Outline Your Novel in 30 Minutes by Alicia Rasley
- childrenspublishing - The Complications Worksheet - this is just a work of art. Truly.
- 3 posts on pre-writing by Robin Lafevers
- Creative Writing Now: an article on outlining
- Rachel Aaron's How I Plot a Novel in 5 Steps
So, onto my revised goals for this round.
New Goals for Round 3
- Put together my own novel planning template - DONE. I did this in small steps over the course of the week, mostly in the evenings, and typed my scribbled notes up in their final form this morning when I had about four uninterrupted hours to myself. Woo hoo!! :)
- Get to know my world. What does the landscape look like? How does the magic system work EXACTLY? What EXACTLY happened in the past to cause the political unrest in the country? How does society work in my male protagonist's culture?
- Get to grips with my protagonists' character arcs.
- Work through my discomfort of where my female protagonist will finish up at the end of the story. This is a biggie as it involves something that is a bit of an 'issue' for me. Issues make the best kind of stories, though, or so they say...
- Create some collages of the world and of my characters to help bring these elements to life for me. I'm a visual person, hence my love of storyboarding. It'll be interesting to see if I like making collages. I'm exploring my process with this goal. :)
- Meditate before I settle down to capture my workings on paper. I'm sticking with the idea that quietening the mind will help me be more productive.
- Watch Brandon Sanderson's classes each week (starting tomorrow Monday 8th July) and work through the assignment as best I can before the next class session. Even if I can't post it by the deadline for critique, I want to complete the assignment and take a look at what I learned from the class itself and from the writing.
UPDATE: I've taken some writing workshops with Jodi Henley in the past and I've always learned so much from her. If you want to know about the character transformational arc or emotional depth or structuring a story (even if you're an organic writer), then she is your lady! There's a tonne of information on her site, which I recommend dipping into, and she's just published Practical Emotional Structure for Kindle. And if you don't have a Kindle, she's said you can get in touch with her via her blog and she'll sort you out. How lovely is that! :)