Writing is a great adventure. We often try different fonts and page sizes right after the first half of the very first manuscript page. It has to be nice! But what about the content?
Allowing ourselves to be carried by the inspiration current and have no clue where the story is going is one of the common writing approaches. However, there are also authors who are more comfortable with creating a plan first and only then starting the manuscript. Here are some ideas for creating an effective plan.
Prepare your characters
Your initial idea must have included at least a vague picture of who should be the center of the story. Along with the plot concept, try to create a short description of the characters. Make a table with the characteristic traits, for example. Or you can think of it as a collection of fictional profiles on a dating server. Or a transcript from a session with a psychologist.
First of all, find out what your characters want. What are their motivations. What is their greatest fear?
It is important to include what they look like. As you write, you may decide that someone will change their hairstyle for a serious reason. Or he gets scars. Then don’t forget to put that in the table. You can add their typical words, favorite dishes, colors, music…
Know the end
Many authors managed to obtain a bestseller status without an idea about the end of their story when they started writing. That’s fine. But if your manuscript plan gives you a sense of security, you need to know clearly how and why you want to end your story.
It will help you find your way through the chapters. It’s easier to guess where to push it, where you can afford to slow down, and where the story should really run full speed.
Plan your main points
I’m sure you remember that from school. Introduction, core, conclusion. In the case of a book, you may find out that there is more. You can detail the main events in chapters. Or just, jump after jump, the most important things.
“Tea with grandmother—phone call about a maimed wolf in the woods—at the vet, revealing an ax injury—grandmother again, grandmother complains that there is a noise and aggressive neighbor—the neighbor arrested after throwing an ax into the crowd.”
Think about the basic chapter structure
Should your chapters always have a conclusion, or do you want to tease your readers with regular cliffhangers? Want to rotate character point of views? Should every quarter of your book end with a letter?
Wherever the inspiration takes you, it will be easier for you to have this basic formula ready in advance in your head. It will direct you subconsciously.
Use all your senses to keep yourself inspired
Inspiration is fleeting and rare. Your mind lightens up for a moment and then you get off the bus, unlock your apartment and… The seed of the idea is gone.
Working on a story, on the other hand, is a long-term thing. Therefore, do not just plan on the paper.
Along with the chapter plan, prepare things that will create the same environment for you when you dive into words.
Make a board with pictures and keep it beside your computer screen. Anything that reminds you of the key scenes or character features is good. Do you have floods in your story? Pictures of a mass of water on the board are great. Is something haunting your characters? Print and pin the ghosts.
Put a bouquet of flowers on your table. Or a Christmas wreath in the summer if it is closely connected with your work.
Or put on the same comfortable sweater to write in. Engage smell and hearing as well. Scented candles can inspire you perfectly. Play music or sounds from the beach.
And how about you? Do you have any planning habits, or do you follow wherever your muse takes you?