Ah, planning. As I’ve said before, I’m not always that good at planning, but I’m working on it. Here are a few things that I’ve done, some of them worked, others not so much.
At first I started with an idea, it was only a sentence and a couple of bullet points. Then I started to flesh it out a bit. I had one of those moleskin notebooks and I just wrote down all the things I wanted in the story, from symbols to scenes, from characters to landscapes. I also had a very thin outline at the start of the notebook that I could fill in as I went. Overall it was basically an information dump. It allowed me to see just how much I knew about my story, but it had no real structure and I found it quite hard to follow. I would be writing a scene then have to flick through the notebook to find all the bits I wanted to put in it, or I’d be reading through the notebook and find that I’d missed out plenty of information when I’d written the scenes.
I had a few ways to combat this, without having to start my notebook all over again. One is that while I was editing my first draft I made notes in the margins of the manuscript on the different themes, symbols, characters, etc. I took these and made a legend in my notebook, then highlighted the information relevant to each point. Another way, which is related to his, is to make a cheat sheet as it were. I took my main points and wrote them out on a big piece of paper for reference. This was coupled with a more fleshed out version of my outline.
Recently, for NaNoWriMo, I had to plan for my second novel. For this one I tried to learn from the first. I took my notebook again and this time I had a very detailed (well, as detailed as you can for a first draft) outline of what was going to happen in the story. I then went through and did in depth character sheets for each of the main characters. This book also includes a lot of historical points and different people’s beliefs so I had whole sections in my notebook dedicated to resarch on each of them. I found it a lot easier this time around to keep track of the information I wanted to include. An added bonus is that the events of the story happen over just one month. Because of this, I was able to draw up a calendar and write down what was going to happen each day. This second novel was far more planned out and after 4 weeks I had a first draft that was almost complete, just the last few scenes to go.
This has definitely shown me that I’m more of a planner than a pantser, I actually have to do quite a bit of work and thinking before I can start writing. It can be annoying as I get really excited to just sit down and write, but it’s what works for me so I should probably stick to it.