writing: how i plan my novels

Hey there!

Today I’m back with another writing post. Since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you how I plan my novels before I start drafting them. I love learning more about how other writers organize + plan their work, so maybe you’ll be interested in that as well.

I’ll go through my process in order, although that can sometimes change and is in no way a strict guide on what to do.

1. A new idea is born

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I have no idea how my brain works, or where it gets the inspiration from (probably all the content I’m always consuming), but usually, when I have the idea for a new project it’s half-formed already, with some scenes crystal clear in my mind.

2. Write it all down or you’ll forget it

Movie Review: “A Star is Born” Indeed, and it's Bradley Cooper the Director  – SLC Nerd

Honestly, if I wait too long to commit it to paper (or laptop, but you get what i mean) it’ll get away from me and there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing you had a great story to tell but you’ve forgotten most of it. So as soon as I possibly can, I write down everything that’s on my mind. There’s no system to this part of the process, just me jotting it all down in a single document: the basic gist of the plot, how my characters are and even some bits of dialogue that come to me.

3. Organizing the chaos

This is probably my favorite part, I think. Once I’ve gotten everything down and am no longer worried about forgetting anything, I can start organizing. I separate what belongs to the plot, characters, world-building, or other (random things that don’t necessarily fit in any of the previous categories). I usually do this on Scrivner, a writing program that lets you keep everything about your novel in just one place. At least, everything that’s text. For other forms of media, such as images, playlists, or online resources, I’m actually keeping track of it all on Notion. It’s still new to me, so I’m seeing how it goes, but if it works out I’ll be sure to let you know in the future.

4. Here comes the plotting

Once everything is organized, I start outlining my novel. I use the 3 acts, 9 blocks, 27 chapters structure, but I’ll go into detail about that in another post. The point is that I already know what the story is about in broad strokes, but outlining is when it really comes to life. I go in-depth in each chapter, and by the end of it I usually end up having around 10k words. Despite being a lot of work, the plot is what comes easier to me. The more I write, the more my ideas flow and the story takes shape.

5. And now the characters

While working on the plot, not just the story comes to life, but so do the characters. When I’m done with the outline, I feel like I know my characters so well. Now all I have to do is make separate character sheets for each of them, describing their physical appearance, quirks, motivations, their personality traits, and how they define themselves. If I know their backstories (as I usually do), I’ll write it down as well, even if it’s not important for the story and won’t come up. I just write everything I know about them, and that ends up being quite a lot. It’s great, even if it can be a bit chaotic.

6. It’s time to build

After discovering so much about the plot and the characters, the world is mostly set up in my head already. I get it all organized by locations, such as countries or kingdoms (can you even tell I write fantasy?) and if there’s any important setting where the characters spend a lot of time in (like the ship where my current w.i.p. is set), I’ll add that to the list as well. I like to include reference photos or illustrations as well, if I can find any that seems particularly accurate to me.

7. And it’s time to research

Finally, if I’ve noticed that I need more information on certain things, rather than deviate from what I’m currently doing, I’ll write it down and keep working. When it’s all done, it’s time to get back to that list and start researching. For this last project, I’ve had to learn a lot about ships, how they work, how to differentiate a frigate from a galleon, etc. This is where I learn all I can about matters that come into play in the story and store all the relevant information I might need later. If need be, I tweak the outline to correct any inaccuracies.

Now, it’s time to start drafting!

That’s it for my planning process. I love going into a new draft knowing as much as I possibly can about my story, my characters, and the world. I know this is not for everyone, and it might sound a bit convoluted, but it works for me.

Are you a planner or a pantser? How do you get ready before starting a new draft?

Until next time,

2 thoughts on “writing: how i plan my novels

  1. I love reading about other writer’s processes! I think my favorite part is the organizing of the chaos, too! But I also really like the stage before it—just brain dumping everything that comes to mind! It’s almost therapeutic ahaha!


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