It's finally here! A bit belated, but at least I got it done. I meant to write an introduction, but that introduction turned into my post on why I need a master plan. So this time, I'll jump right in. Here's how I want to approach writing my first novel:
1. Create a vision
More and more, I'm learning to appreciate the value of having a vision. I always thought I wasn't an ambitious or passionate person, but maybe that's because I didn't really know what I want. How can I get anywhere if I don't even know what my destination is? That's why I'm going to write down my dream of what I hope to accomplish, so I have something to aim for. A guiding star, so I know which direction to take. I'm not sure, yet, how detailed this vision will be, or how well I'll be able to realize it, or how much it will change with time. But this is where I'm going to start.
2. Commit to a story
Remember what I said about putting things on to-do lists that I've already finished? Yeah, this is one of them. I've accumulated lots of different story ideas over the years, and I know I need to stick to one of them — so I chose one. Once I'm done with my vision posts I'll talk more about how I get ideas and how I decided which one to pick (the reason is kind of ridiculous — but you'll see). I hope I can stick with it. I tend to like keeping my options open, which can turn into commitment-phobia, but this time I want to see it through to the end.
3. Brainstorm more brilliance
At least, I hope there will be some brilliance involved. :P Sure, I have tons of ideas, but they need to be developed before there's enough material for a novel. I need to know more about the plot, setting, and characters. I'll be asking myself a lot of questions, coming up with answers that fit with my vision and with the specific story idea I chose, and trying to weave them all together into something that sounds good to me. There will probably be a lot of free-writing and list-making in this stage. Plus a lot of being frustrated with myself for not knowing the answer...
4. Organize an outline
I do enjoy scribbling ideas down by hand in notebooks and having files of random bullet points and snippets of scenes, but I like having my ideas neatly organized even more. I'll be taking my jumble of thoughts and sorting, trimming, and reorganizing them until I can see the big picture with all the pieces where they belong. I like plans and strategies, and having an outline will help me keep track of plot elements and character arcs. Structure is important, and I want to be sure to think ahead so I don't write myself into a corner.
This part scares me. So much. What if I can't make it past a few thousand words? What if my outline doesn't work and I get stuck? What if all I do is open the document and then proceed to surf the web instead of actually working on it? What if I do write something but it's absolutely awful? What if it turns out I'm not cut out to be a writer because I secretly hate writing?
I don't know how I will handle the writing part. I never wrote more than a few brief scenes before. I also never had a complete outline either, so maybe that will help. I don't know. I think I will need word count goals and schedules but I think I will probably fail those and then feel discouraged and not want to write. And I will probably want to edit as I write. Well. I'll worry about it more when I get to that phase. I'm sure I'll be struggling with this a lot. At least that means I will have material to blog about, hm?
6. Repeat 2-5 with a new project
OMG IF I EVER FINISH I WILL BE SO ECSTATIC. When I'm not beating myself up because I think what I wrote is a pile of crap, that is. I'll let myself celebrate a little and resist the urge to dive back in and fix stuff by distracting myself with a new story. I hope I make it to this part.
7. Revise first novel
I'm actually looking forward to revision. How cool is it to be able to read a book and fix all the things you think are wrong with it? I will be so happy to let my inner editor run rampant (though I should probably remind her to be kind, as I don't want me to be too discouraged). I have no idea how much work I'll have to do at this point but I think it'll be fun to see what I've written and try to improve it. Or maybe I'm being delusional and I will actually want to bash my head against a wall and tear my hair out if I make it to this stage. Huh. I guess we'll see.
So, there you go! A general overview of how I'm planning to go about this writing project. Although I did leave out one important element in this plan (there's a brief mention, but nothing concrete). Well, probably more than one, but there's one specific thing I'm thinking of. I don't have a good track record regarding that aspect of planning, so I sort of dread thinking about it. But it's important, so I guess I'll force myself to talk about it in my next post. Can you tell what it is?
If you notice anything else I've overlooked or have any advice or words of wisdom for me, please share! I'm open to suggestions for revising my plan and I would love to learn from your experience. :)