Sunday, 5 August 2012

Getting started - Planning & preperation

The Cult of Me is the first book in a trilogy. Having now released the first book I'm now embarking on the second book - Conversations in the Abyss. I'm obviously not going to provide details of the story yet - I'm hoping you'll all want to buy it and read it for yourself when I've finished :-) However I do want to share the process I use in writing a book.

All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. As the second book I already know the start as it follows on from the end of the first book. I also know how I want the book to end, to set-up the third book in the trilogy. So the big question I have to answer is, how to I get from the start to the end? I already have some thoughts on the flow that fill a large part of the middle, although not it all.

Filling in the gaps is essential for me before I start actually writing the first draft. It's a common saying that no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. A writing plan is no different, as you start writing the plan will change. That's fine, but the plan comes into its own when you hit blocks as all writers do. Then the plan gives you the target for what needs to be written next.

So how do I put together the plan? The first step is a short overview of what the story is about. You can write this down as a sentence. Then expand it to a paragraph. Once I have that I start sketching out the chapters. At this stage only a title for each chapter. This provides the overarching flow for the story. It's also at this stage I conduct research into any areas that I need for the story.

Research is an important part of the planning process. I recommend doing it before writing any words. Often learning more details about a subject can help guide the story in new and interesting directions. This has already proved the case for me, a little research has helped fill a substantial part of the middle.

As you develop the chapter plan you'll encounter the main characters, it's worth pausing at this point. Sketch out the characters separately. Who are they? What are their motivations? Why are they important to the story? If you answer these questions in advance you'll make it a bit easier for yourself when you start rising.

My final piece of advice is don't rush. I know it's tempting to just dive in and start writing the first draft, I'm having to resist that same temptation right now. However to paraphase another army saying "Plan hard, write easy", the more you plan, the easier your book will be to write. 

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