[Archive] Novel Planning: How Much?


Original post date: October 21st, 2012
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re as serious about novel writing as I am, then you’ve probably gone out of your way to find the best advice there is. How can you write a novel that people will love, and that will actually sell?

There are a lot of different opinions on it. I see a pattern where some writers call for a lot of planning. One site claimed that you should outline your novel so thoroughly that you have a paragraph explaining every single chapter, and then write the actual thing as fast as you can with minimal editing. Yeah, I’m SURE that will solve everything.

More recently I had a look at Storyfix.com, a blog by author Larry Brooks that suggests there are certain areas of any novel (or film) which all need to work together to make it great. Like many others, Larry Brooks advocates a planned structure: four parts with their own specific functions, and several key points that either highlight or separate them. It’s a very involved, disciplined way of looking at things.

The question is, is this overdoing it? Is it going to kill the novel-writing process? I guess that depends on what you want most out of it, and how close you feel to having it right yourself. I know I’m still not happy with the way mine is written, so to me, it’s worth a try.

Still, there’s a full-page checklist on there and after an hour’s concentration I’m still working on the opening sequence here. This thing is asking a lot! But it seems to me that there’s a lot of merit to at least answering these questions, and using them to write the novel–whether I decide to actually go with the structure prescribed or not.

Basically what I’m saying is, I’m going to give the techniques in that blog a try. Some day I’ll let you guys know how that came out.


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