I have kept my promise to my family and stayed away from my next project until now! I’ve dusted off a planning sheet, which I actually wrote over two years ago, and am making this the basis for my next novel.

The novel is totally based around one word, which came to me whilst I was experiencing a visual migraine. I’m not going to reveal just yet what that word is, as it may well end up being the title of this book.

Most mind maps start with a subject or idea at the core and work outwards identifying streams of activity and thoughts. Something like the image on the left. Mine, on the other hand, started like that on page one, a plain piece of A3 paper, and then took on a whole new identity. Instead of being bullet points and a snapshot of a plan for a book, it became a full synopsis of the novel from start to finish. I remember quite vividly writing it. The words spilling out onto the page. The problem was, the words spilt out backwards, or should I say I wrote backwards. Logic would normally dictate writing left to right on a sheet of paper, and whilst I did do that, for some illogical reason I allowed my thoughts to pour our right to left. As the words formed and the page filled, I sellotaped a fresh piece of paper to the page, but to the left and worked left to right, at the end connecting three sheets of A3 paper. Here is the result…

Curtis Brown Creative is a writing school run by a literary agency. They have a post on their website called ‘How to plan your novel in ten steps’. This post was written in February 2020. They list the steps as follows:

  1. What’s at the heart of your novel?
  2. Are you writing a particular genre or for a certain kind of reader?
  3. Write the cover blurb.
  4. Get to know your characters.
  5. Where is your novel set?
  6. Do your research.
  7. How will you structure your story?
  8. Write a chapter plan.
  9. Create a timeline.
  10. Don’t over plan!

Now, these are great suggestions, and for a novice like me, make good sense to follow. Having crafted though my somewhat thorough mind map, I now need to unpick it and shoehorn it into a more professional looking plan, one which will actually support me in writing a sound story.

So, I can tick off number one on the professionally recommended plan and that is to have a ‘heart’ to my story. My ‘heart’ is currently the single word that kicked off my plan.

Join me on my journey as I now determine the genre and audience and work towards developing my characters and researching key aspects of the storyline.

Here is the link to the Curtis Brown Creative Blog on How to plan your novel in ten steps. Click here

How do you go about planning a novel? Please share your stories.

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