My Writing Process – Part 2.A, Planning

So a few days ago I started blogging about my writing process, namely to help out a young writer think through the process and give her some encouragement. I realize (as you’ll see below) that in putting together the process, I combined planning, plotting and character building together. They are all really one VERY LARGE step, but for purposes of my blog I’m going to break them down into subsections.

Here are the phases of writing a book, as far as I’m concerned.
1. Inspiration – coming up with an idea
2. Planning, Plotting, Character Building
3. Writing that first draft
4. Editing, First Readers and Cover Design
5. Beta Readers, Revisions and Blurb Writing
6. Wrapping it all up and releasing it to the world

 

So in looking at step 2.A really – planning here are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours as we’ll only grow and get more efficient from learning from one another.

 

Once I have a bit of time on my hands I move from the inspiration phase to the planning phase. I’ll be fair to my muse and let you know that I have about 300 book ideas thanks to her (my) overactive imagination. She usually forces a story on me, so where I’d love to go to my inspiration journal and actually pick an idea, that’s never the case. Usually one idea that I’ve been chewing on from my inspiration journal will just bounce around in my skull until I sigh in defeat and sit down to write it (start to finish).

 

So… with idea in hand and my muse sucking on a coke… let’s talk planning.

 

I’m a mathematician, so this is going to be VERY different for some of you to read, but that’s okay. Might help you out and perhaps not. I plan first by considering the parameters of what I need to get done. I know there’s a side of your brain that needs freedom and I’ll get to that in both plotting and in writing the first draft, but I’ve found that if I set boundaries in the planning phase, then my writing moves from a hobby to a very viable option for sustained income in my future.

 

Plus – rules and structure are the essence of freedom. I set it up and then I can play without concern in the box I’ve built. If I need to go outside the box I simply chop the box down and expand it. Nothing hard and fast set in stone.

 

So for me this is about number of words and pages from the get-go. I set up my book in Scrivener (which I just found and am still learning about) in chapters. How do I know how many chapters I’ll have? I calculate them. Check it out:

 

Romance – 50-60K words in a novel / 2500 words per chapter = 20-24 chapters
YA 85K words in a novel /  3000 words per chapter = roughly 28 chapters

 

I could go on, but the point (for me) is to know how many chapters I have to work with. If I don’t have a target to aim at in the big-picture view, then I’ll ramble and end up with far too many words, or not nearly enough. Having the number of chapters set up and aligned allows me to understand my plot points per chapter. I want my reader to end each chapter at a good point. I’m fine going over the word count per chapter, but I keep in the back of my mind that I have a goal to reach at minimum, and I do it.

 

With my chapters set up and my box created around me, I start to freely move into the stages of plotting and characterization, and I’ll tell you that for me these two next steps are ordered based on the story. Am I focused on telling a tall tale, or is there a character that won’t get out of my skull?

 

I know that’s not much in the way of planning, but it’s only part of that phase to me. Next time we talk about one of my favorite topics: characterization.

 

Until then – write your rear off. The world needs more fiction.

 

L.

 

(Oh! I have 3 books releasing this month. Wish me luck and join my e-mail list if you wanna know more. http://eepurl.com/9Nrc1 )
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