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Planning a Book

Here is my weekly post to the "Write a Book in a Year Club" at the high school.  Today is the club's official start, so I'll be working on my novel for the next nine months.  The club members have a variety of projects.  Most of them have never tried to write a book, so I think a part of the year will be a discovery of their own process.  If they write consistently, they'll soon figure out when they are most productive and what works or doesn't.  It should be exciting!

Most people, when they tackle a project as long as a book, do some planning ahead of time.  That could be a long, detailed outline, or it could be notes scribbled on the backs of napkins.  A few people don’t write any kind of plan down; they just plunge in and write (that’s my process most of the time).

I had the opportunity to see how award-winning science fiction author, Joe Haldeman outlines his novels.  He’s a visual sort of person, so he does a map.  Here’s what it looks like (if you click on the picture, you should see a larger version of it):

Since today is the first official day of writing for the club, I hoped that everyone would share their planning for your book.  Are you an outliner?  Do you like a map like Joe Haldeman?  Is your planning a lot of thought ahead of time but nothing written down?  Are you planning on starting with a blank sheet and . . . you know . . . see what happens?  Or do you have another method?

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
daegunkoh
Aug. 18th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
I just wanted to say that I wish I had something like this in highschool, and actually wouldn't mind it now that I'm in college. I've just about wrapped up the very roughest of drafts on my first book attempt and think that a project like this would have helped a lot. Thanks for the idea, I suppose is what I'm getting at.
gardenwaltz
Aug. 18th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
I haven't written a novel - or even a decent short story, so I don't know what my method would be. However, I've got this... idea that I keep contemplating. I think I had about 500 words on it when I realized that I was going to need to retreat and reorient. An outline at this point might not be a bad idea. There is enough in this that it might be a novel, but I tend to write short. Right now, I'm just a wee bit busy with the Independent Study of Doooom, but I might just join in that crazy Nano thing.
the_flea_king
Aug. 18th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC)
I recently tried out mind mapping short story ideas with a program online called bubbl.us. I found ultimately that it is just a distraction that I get too involved in. Basically, it's a great way for me to feel like writing without actually doing any of it.

Now novels, I think this sort of technique would be much more useful to me.
kmarkhoover
Aug. 18th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC)
I make a chapter outline of one or two words, maybe a brief phrase, for each chapter. Nothing more. Doesn't hem me in and leaves me lots of running room.
chipmunk_planet
Aug. 18th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)
I've used the Snowflake Method for most of my stories.
jimvanpelt
Aug. 18th, 2008 05:07 pm (UTC)
Snowflake method? Please share!
mallory_blog
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC)
Oh yes - snowflake is rather good actually...

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/art/snowflake.php

I've played with this one before and it was very good for helping to focus ideas.

As to my own stuff - with my early books it was all seat of the pants write it as you go - my sister told me she could TELL the exact moments where I had ah hah experiences...My latest novel attempt I did an extensive outline which I felt robbed me of my energy for writing the story. My favorite unfinished novel has a short story and pages of notes for what I think should happen. It is now my thought that I haven't been able to write that book because it is for a better writer than I am at present - the book is waiting for me (I could be lying to myself) :)
(Anonymous)
Aug. 19th, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
Novel process
Jim,

My usual process is by the seat of my pants. I tried doing one with an extensive outline and got bogged down in the details of the outline and at the end I felt I had already told the story.

I'm going to start a novel today in honor of your club. The title is Burning Mountain and it is a science fiction adventure story with sociological overtones.

Best with your novel and the club,

Brian
bookburned
Aug. 19th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
One thing I always try to do when I write something is I get a character sketch down first. Not an actual drawing but the basics of characters since I have always felt these people carry a story.

A lot of the times I just jump in, but sometimes I have actually taken the time to write out time lines for stories, mostly I'll just put down notes.

I've always really wanted like a huge white board or black board to lay out stuff for a story or novel on. Just because I think it would be neat.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )