10 Tips To Plan Your Novel in 2021
As a community, writers have one thing in common, we’re daydreamers. We read books, browse through endless shelves of books in libraries and bookstores. We even sniff the pages of books, be it old or new. However, the one thing that truly brings us together is sitting in front of a blank piece of paper or word doc and floating away into an imaginary world where we’re the next bestselling author. Reel it in comrade, we’ve got a long way to go! Let’s take a step back, or perhaps, ten steps back and sit down to write our books before we get carried away again.
Step 1: Bookmark this article to revisit once you start writing your novel!
Step 2: Read this article carefully and make your writing dreams come true!
- Lock Your Golden Plot Idea
Grab your running shoes, tie your laces and carry a small notebook and a pen. It’s time to step out and get some inspiration. Not an outdoor person? Fret not, dig up your favourite books and read them. Take some time to let the ideas brew in your head and note everything down. Always make sure that your ideas are out on paper. Don’t skip this step! Once you have a fair number of ideas written down, start striking out the ones that you don’t like. Take other factors into consideration as well, including the amount of time that you can dedicate to a book, the kind of deadline you have in mind, etc. until you narrow it down to one idea. Congratulations, you’ve locked down your golden idea!
- Flesh Out Your Plot
Once you’ve figured out your golden idea, start fleshing out your plot. Story ideas are short and crisp like blurbs. So, try to add more layers and volume to it. This is the time when you pen down all your ideas about the twists and turns and sub-plots onto paper in a structured manner. It will help when you’ve started writing the novel. Different writers apply different techniques when it comes to outlining or plotting their stories. Find what works for you! You could start from the middle or end or beginning of your story!
- Set A Realistic Deadline
Not all of us are NaNoWriMo champions. So, before you start writing your novel, set a realistic deadline for yourself. This deadline should take into account your daily writing time, professional and personal commitments as well. Your deadline could be a year or even a month but remember to set one before you start writing. It will give you more accountability and help you deliver your work on time.
- Plan Your Research
Regardless of the genre of your novel, you will require some level of research to add authenticity to your story. This could be about your setting, characters, dialogues and more. Once you’ve fleshed out your plot, you will have a fairly good idea of what kind of research you will require for your writing. At this point, plan your research in a manner that it is available to you whenever you need it for writing. Remember, your research time shouldn’t clash with your writing time as it will leave you frustrated and unable to meet your deadline.
- Ideate Your Novel’s Structure
Planning your novel’s structure adds another layer of detail to your plot. At this point, the first thing that you will decide is the chronology of the story. Identify where the story begins and ends, the story arc. Also, fill in the plot holes that currently exist in your story. This is also the time when you can decide between different points of views, tenses and other details. It might seem easier to go with the flow and see where the story takes you, but it’s better to have some clarity and reduce the number of revisions that your novel will require in the future.
- Break Down The Elements Of Your Story
Every writer wants to write a novel that leaves the reader wanting more. A well-written novel is enveloped with different elements that come together to make it an unforgettable experience. So, before you start writing, take some time to figure out these elements for your story. Add elements of conflict, find a setting that suits your story, add personal struggles of your protagonists and add flaws to your characters. All these elements will make your story and characters more relatable and in turn, more enjoyable.
- Sketch Out Your Main Characters
While sketching out your protagonist is a must, try to sketch out almost all of your relevant supporting characters as well. Start adding details from their physical appearances and names and move on to more complex details like their past, their secrets and more. You don’t have to plan it down to the last detail. Leave some room for character development and plot changes. Having these details in mind will not only help you write a story that is realistic but also save you time with writing. Read books by authors like Ruskin Bond, Haruki Murakami and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni to gain perspective on powerful character development.
- Fix A Writing Schedule
It’s easy to push writing to the bottom of your daily task lists. Nobody will hold you accountable for it (unless, of course, you have an agent or editor who keeps tabs on your work). But, there’s no excuse good enough for you to not write religiously. Make writing a priority and fix a certain amount of time for writing every day. You can move your writing time around according to your availability throughout the day but it’s better to have a fixed number of hours in mind. Get some inspiration from Stephen King’s writing routine here.
- Finish Writing Before You Edit
Repeat after me: I won’t edit my novel until I’ve finished writing it. Now, write this down and frame it. It’s tempting to quickly scroll up and start rewriting the chapter that you wrote yesterday because you don’t like it anymore. Try to resist the temptation because otherwise, you will keep going in circles and your manuscript will never see the light of the day. If you feel like you have an idea that would make your scene or chapter better, note it down and save it for later.
- Take A Break Before Editing
The high of holding your completed manuscript in your hands will tempt you to jump straight into editing but remember to hit pause. You’re too close to your story right now to look at it in an objective manner. Take a mini-holiday (you deserve it), move on to another project or simply save your work and forget it for the next few weeks. Once your mind is off the story and you’ve taken a short breather, you can come back to edit it. Read an editor’s revelation on why writers need to learn how to self-edit here.
About The Author
Megha is a writer, researcher and creative consultant. She has completed her Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University, Mumbai in 2020. She’s drawn to new concepts, unconventional brands and literature. Her love for books and writing has led her to pursue internships with companies like Penguin Random House India, Juggernaut Books and Verve Magazine in the past. A true North Indian at heart, her love for street food and desserts led to an internship at DSSC Idea Labs where she has cultivated her interest and skills for branding.