Novel Writing: Planning (part 1)

Last time we talked about different ways of generating an idea for your novel. Today we’ll examine how to develop that idea, study and expand it to reach the lenghts a novel requires. We’ll discuss mind maps, brainstorming techniques and procastination methods in this post, character profiles, timelines and outlines in the next one.

Let’s start right away with mind maps. Above you’ll see one of my making, presenting… well, mind maps! The first thing I mention is ————> connections, the lines that construct the mind map. You can use them to show relationships of different events, thoughts or characters, depending on how you use this mind map. Mind map readers will follow these connections, and when they reach the dead end, they return to the main header and find a new pathway to follow. Connections also allow you to expand, provide some little details on whatever subject you’re handling. The “Mind Maps” header connects to the “shows connections between things”, which splits into “useful” and “visual”. The further you get, the more detailed the message is.

As I mention, you can use mind maps for character concepts (your character name in the middle, subcathegories could include personality, past, opinions, dreams, friends & family…) or relationships (write down character names throughout the paper, then start connecting them with different lines and symbols). One can also use it for an entire book (book name in the middle, subachegories could include characters, beginning, middle, end, themes & messages, subplots…) or for just one specific scene or problem. Try out different things and see what works for you. Mind Maps are not guaranteed successes, but they might very well work for you: the cost of trying is just one single sheet of paper and a pen.

As for brainstorming, I already went through a lot of basic techniques in the last post. The trick now is to direct all ideas towards this one big idea. I’m still all for using music as your muse: choose pieces that compliment the atmosphere of the novel you have in mind. Focus on specific characters and scenes, go into details and let the story morph itself. Think big, visual, cinematic – the prose will come later by itself. Long walks, writing down ideas and doing research are still all useful.

Creative procastination is one of my favorite pastimes throughout September and October, just before the start of NaNoWriMo (meaning, the start of a new book). Above you’ll see the first book trailer I made for my current WIP novel. Yeah, yeah, book trailers are kind of silly – but they’re fun to make! This is actually the first scene for Half Human I constructed while listening to music, the very first glimpse of my main character as a child. The novel is set a good few decades later and I never really got a chance to include this scene in the novel, but it was still a valuable bit of informatioin for me. I’ve since made three more of these, one depicting a secondary MC’s past, one showcasting the villains and one that just shows bits of the scenery and action.

Of course, I had a slight advantage here – I have a couple of years of fan video editing experience under my belt, making it a bit easier for me to make these trailers look good. But this is not the only thing you can do! Illustrations of your characters (be it digital or traditional art), photo manipulations, forum icons, banners, book covers, comics, websites and many more fields of art are just waiting for your book. Pick your strongest field (or the one that interests you most) and have some fun with it.

That’s it for today! The next article should be due sometime next week. Until then, work with your ideas, develop them and posts any questions in the comments below.

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4 Responses to Novel Writing: Planning (part 1)

  1. hookofabook says:

    Good post!! I like the mind maps….I tend to do that, but without the lines from the bubbles I guess. I just doodle words, phrases, ideas. Helps to get a starting point. Nice post!! :)

    • mephetti says:

      Thank you! :)) Mind maps are awesome, both with and without the lines – I guess it just depends on the writer which one works. You’re right, they are a great way to get started on working, gets rid of the blank page syndrome. :D

  2. I use to hate the mind map in elementary school. We always had to do them for something–though it’s been so long, I can’t remember what! They just seemed pointless. As I began writing for myself later on, I found myself using these more and more. Although, I can’t work off of one by itself; I have to transfer everything to an outline to satisfy my compulsive organization. But they are really useful just to get all of your ideas out of your head.

  3. Pingback: Novel Writing: Planning (part 2a) « Writing Inspiration

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