Epiphanies in Writing, Part 1: Planning Your Novel

Currently I am writing a series of short novels part of a series called CONSORTIUM. One epiphany I learned a long time ago was that no two writers use the same method of getting their story down on paper.

And something else: A writer may not even use the same method two times in a row.

And one more thing: When it comes to getting a rough draft completed, there’s no wrong way.

Over the years, these epiphanies have informed my writing process for planning a novel, writing a rough draft, editing a manuscript and marketing  a novel.

Planning a Novel and Writing a Rough Draft

  1. Snowflake Method

I enjoy incorporating several different methods when writing a novel. In the planning stages, I use a variation of  the Snowflake Method. Created by Randy Ingermanson, the idea behind the software (although a person doesn’t have to use the software; the method can be done manually) is to start with the theme, characters and story with single sentences. The sentences are developed into paragraphs. Each sentence in the paragraphs is expanded into a summary. This continues until a first draft is written.

2. One Way to Write Your Novel

Another similar method can be found in a book called  One Way to Write Your Novel by Dick Perry. I found this book in my college library many years ago. To simplify the idea behind this method, the writer gets a notebook and inserts twenty sheets of writing paper. Each sheet represents a chapter. On the last sheet, the writer jots down what happens in the concluding chapter–in one sentence. Then, on the first sheet, she writes down one sentence summarizing where the story begins in the first chapter. Next, she writes one sentence on each sheet of paper, getting her from page one to page twenty. Then, over the next one hundred days, she fleshes out each chapter, which is about five days per chapter. At the end, the writer has a rough draft she can work with.

OWTWYN may be out of print, so you may have to find it in a used bookstore, the library or see if it’s available at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. Also, the method described in the previous paragraph can be done digitally–the book, being written before desktop computers became common–describes how to do it the old-fashioned way, and that actually may not be a bad idea.

3. Scrivener

While I use the Snowflake Method at the very beginning of the writing process, I eventually plug everything into the software called Scrivener. I kept hearing about how great Scrivener is from writers and from articles on writing. Finally, I just gave in and bought it (it’s less than fifty dollars).

You may have heard all the hype about Scrivener, and in my opinion, this software lives up to it. My favorite part of Scrivener is its flexibility. This writer can use certain features one way, and that writer can use other features another way.

As far as planning the novel, Scrivener has several features to help. My favorite is the Corkboard setting. The user can write summaries on digital index cards and move them around. Also, dozens of templates exist for both fiction and non-fiction writers. One template even incorporates the Snowflake Method.

I usually write the rough draft in Scrivener. The software breaks down each segment so the writer can write in scenes and move a whole scene to a different part of the story if needed. This is done in mere seconds. Nothing against Word, but sometimes it can be clunky. Scrivener takes away the clunkiness.

4. NaNoWriMo

NaNoWritMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and if you’ve heard of it, you probably have participated in it. Every November, hundreds of thousands of aspiring authors write a 50,000 word draft.

This worked for me. For the first time, I was able to finish a rough draft of a novel. And not just once, but four times.

The key is to let go and just write without edit yourself. It’s so freeing. While the participant can plan the novel with a simple outline and create characters before November 1st, the writer does the actually writing each day–which is 1667 words a day.

5. The Furious Five Hundred

Writing just five hundred words a day (minimum) is a great way to make daily progress on your novel project and still account for those busy days where you have little time.

Read more about the Furious Five Hundred.

Do What Works for You

You may find any of the resources I’ve just mentioned helpful for your writing process. While some may resonate with you, remember some may–but that’s okay! Every person thinks and learns in his or her own way

View my Consortium SF Series at Amazon.




One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s