As writers, How We Plan is a personal experience. How we approach our planning, our methods, interests and writing topics will vary. As an author of historical fiction there is a great degree of planning involved around the facts, bygone and ancient, that I’m looking to use within the storyline. Personally, the detail around the events within the story, making the characters as real as possible, is vital for a manuscripts authenticity. I have even produced a genealogy for the characters linked through time.
How I Plan
There are three parts to my first novel, The Windmill. Overarching these parts and within the story are three separate Connections sections. In effect I’m planning a main three part story with a fourth story that spans the series.
When I plan my books (and The Windmill is only the first in a connected series), I think of these four areas as individual topics and compartmentalise them. In time the threads of each part will connect throughout the manuscript. This process makes planning a little bit easier for me. Although the storyboarding can stretch over quite an area!
In part one, I will introduce you to the story and lay the foundations going forward. Part two will consist of the historical period connected to a character within the series, and part three will explain and draw the events to a conclusion or set the scene for the next book in the series.
After scratching my head many times and consuming copious amounts of coffee, I will have a draft of how I’d like the story to flow.
Next, I will create my characters. It often means drawing up a ‘family tree’ to follow the lineage either back or forward. When I flesh out the detail, I even create ficticious census as one of my main characters is searching for her ancestry.
There are three ways that I roughly plan my storyboard. One way is to pin stick-it-notes with characters, clues, places, and more to my message board. I can then move them around to see how they fit into the developing storyline.
In my previous blog, I mentioned how I write by hand, and I will then continue with this method for my planning; taking my pad and pen, I will thrash out more ideas.
Lastly, I will have an abbreviated plan on a word doc side by side on my screen as I begin to type up the story.
Although this seems as if it is a step-by-step procedure, it is fair to say that there is a lot of flexibility. I wrote the ‘ending’ to The Windmill before writing up the main historical section and wrote the ‘first chapter’ after I had finished. Planning is great for creating an authentic setting for the characters. However, in my mind, the creativity is first and foremost. The story is always key.
It is quite remarkable, with so many disparate notes pinned to the notice board, plots highlighted on the computer screen, and drafts written in journals that the result is a complete manuscript.
There is of course, still so much more to do to turn all this into a book…
Here is The Windmill
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