25 October 2010

Planning/plotting a novel

NaNoWriMo starts in a week. Time to start planning and plotting my novel.

There are several ways of planning/plotting a novel (e.g. The Snowflake Method, a four-steps one, and many, many others) and there is probably a book for every kind of writing and planning..Generally speaking, you should do whatever works for you.
For me it's James V. Smith's framework from his "You can write a novel" book (I own a You Can Write a Novel Kit - complete with Chapter Log, Major/Master and Minor Character charts, Scene Development and revision Tracker)

I am writing a category romance, so I have 50,000 words and 10 chapters to make a good use of.
I have used Daphne Clair and Robyn Donald's (Writing Romantic Fiction) tips to 'translate' James V. Smith's advice into the world of romance.

1. Opening scene, where my Reader is to be thrilled.
Well, apparently I have now only 300 words to get my Reader's attention, so I'd better get the opening scene right.
In romance this is Their First Meeting, that First Sparkle between Her (beautiful, smart AND caring) and Him (Alfa male, no doubts!). Best is to have it happen on the first page, and ever since none of them is allowed to leave the page (= if one of them is not physically present on the page, he/she must be present in the other's character's mind).
As far as I've noticed category romance have POV switching between hero and heroine.
This will be Chapter 1 of my NaNo novel

2. Pivotal setup complication, where the action can fall a little, but never below the point of interesting
This part is simple - I just need to come up with enough conflict (source of tension), internal (emotional) and external (life circumstances), to keep them apart for something like 180 pages. Easy-peasy, isn't it?
well, we shall see ;-)
This will be Chapter 2 and 3

3. Point-of-no-return complication, where the action rises to reach the thrilling level again
In romance this is usually the moment when they fall for each other and despite all these things in point 2 realise they can't help the attraction
In Chapter 4

Points 4, 5, 6 - pivotal complications with the action rises and falls swinging my Reader between Interested, Excited and Thrilled
The consequences of the conflict as laid out in point 2, plus some minor additions, usually of external type; a jealous ex jumping out of a box maybe?
Chapters 5, 6,and 7

7. Worst complications possible, where my Reader should be more than Thrilled
It's all about that conflict, really.
Chapter 8

8. Worse than even the worst complications possible - the climactic scene, where I should have my Reader blown away by the titanic, epic, final struggle of my hero/heroine facing their worst adversary; heroic conflict is resolved in the characters' favour, important lessons are learnt and no coincidence or divine intervention is allowed
Simply speaking: they both realise they can't live without each other, this is The Love Of Their Lives, so they have to do something about all them things laid out in point 2, plus the minor additions and get together
Chapter 9 and beginning of Chapter 10 (as I'm planning A Dark Night of the soul moment, when they realise there is no happy ending for them)

9. The End, where they live happily ever after and my Reader can wipe his/her forehead and sigh with relief
They get together; may sail off into the sunset, clutching their wedding invitations but no actual wedding is necessary on the scene.
The end of Chapter 10


  1. You're planning! Oh dear, I haven't done any planning ...

  2. Patsy: that's because I can't write without having everything planned first.
    I admire 'pantsers' for their ability to just sit and type away a coherent story.

  3. Me too - mine aren't coherent if I don't plan (sometimes they're not even when I do) When I started I found I had actually done a bit of planning in my head and I've since added to that a bit.