When I first started writing with the idea that I wanted to be an author (about six years ago now) I kept ring binder folders for my story ideas – so that I could pull all of my ideas, bits and pieces together in one place. Notebooks were also used daily, filled up with snippets of stories and characters that sprung into my head in the early hours of the morning. In the past year however is when I got really serious about writing and doing everything with the long term plan of getting published.
Since starting university I have discovered that folders aren’t the best for story building. Despite my HUGE rucksack that I use for taking my things to uni – the folders still don’t fit nicely and often got bent out of place and the rings snapped. Also the paper often breaks around the hole punch.
I started searching for ideas for collating all my thoughts together so that I could easily keep track of them and came across a few good ideas. The first thing you need is a good size notebook, preferably one that can be carried around in bags daily (so that whenever ideas strike they can be scribbled down straight away). My advice would be to find a notebook that you are happy writing in lots of information. I use the Decomposition Notebooks that are sold at Waterstones as they can be opened so that they are flat on the table (good for writing) without breaking the spine as it is fabric.
You might also find useful to have at hand are things like:
- colourful pens
- pictures or scrap book type things that have inspired your story and can be stuck in
I recommend saving the first page for your novel’s title and blurb/elevator pitch that you can use to explain what you story is about when people ask. Having it at the front of your notebook allows it to stay fresh in your mind and remind you what the main point of the novel is.
The second page can be set out as chapter headings and can help structure your notebook into sections. After that I would use a few pages per chapter to explore what needs to happen in each chapter. Title at the top and then you can bullet point or mind map what is going to happen in the chapter. Given enough space you can also add notes or specific sentences that you want to be typed up in your novel.
Once the chapters have been set out you have room to develop your characters – this is where I use my coloured pens and highlighters (and pencil) as I like to mind map specific words that describe my character, either their personality or appearance. Underneath that I can then write a few sentences about this character and how they fit into the novel.
I always like to include a page (or more) on the places in my story. I can then go into detail about what these places look like, feel like, smell like. What the people are like, and the atmosphere. Also important things to do with civilization such as trade, currency, politics, and ruling government.
Hopefully this has been helpful for some – how do you like to plan out your novels and story ideas? Let me know in the comments 🙂 Happy Writing