Sound too good to be true? It is.
It’s also National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo), and many courageous writers around the world will attempt to craft a complete novel in just 30 days.
“What’s your process for writing a novel?”
I get asked this question a lot, and my answer tends to be vague and disorganized (much like my brain before 9 am). I figure it’s better to hem and haw for a minute (or less) than to yammer on for a good half hour (which I could).
In honor of NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to answer that question more thoroughly in a series of brief, digestible blog-bites throughout November. After all, we all start somewhere, and I began my journey as an author by reading about the writing processes of others. (Dorothea Brand, Terry Brooks, Annie Dillard, Stephen King, Anne Lamott – to name a few.)
Although I don’t plan to complete a 50,000-word novel by November 30, I happen to be starting my next writing project – The Glorious Governess – as NaNoWriMo kicks off. What better time to appreciate the process than when so many authors are plunging into the literary pool? Grab your floaties & let’s go for a dip!
Planning Phase One: Broad Plotting
Some authors like to dive right in with their novels – no outline, no game plan, no road map. They’re called “Pantsers.” I’m not one of them.
I’m also not a hardcore “Plotter” who crafts detailed outlines and chapter treatments before typing a single word.
In the beginning, I create a broad plot-plan like the one pictured here, which I created last week for The Glorious Governess. (Warning! There are SPOILERS if you look too closely.) The experience is like finger-painting with ideas, and the result has a chaotic Jackson-Pollack feel.
All the ideas that have built up over weeks of thinking overflow onto one piece of paper. I hang it in my writing room and refer to it throughout the project. The finished novel may not match it exactly, but this is the foundation on which I start building…