A NaNo Novel & More

Planning: Organizing

My last novel was a huge, unwieldy beast, nearly 77,000 words in the first draft, with a huge cast of characters (human and otherwise), a ton of objects, a whole world of places, and a language that was all its own. For short stories, I carry everything in my head — character details, voice, language, place. But for novels, that’s a near impossibility. Especially for someone like myself who has no memory to speak of. If I wasn’t organized — and well organized — I would waste an incredible amount of time looking back and forth through 250 pages of text, asking myself “What color were his eyes again?” and “Where is that island located?” and “What does that word mean?” On a “normal” novel, that is a thought that scares me. On a NaNo novel, where every second of every day counts, the thought of spending that much time essentially “looking for my keys” would kill me. And the little novel too.

So, like most novelists, I’ve developed a crazy way of organizing my upcoming novel. A lot of novelists like to work on paper, post-its and various other forms. Check out Arleen Barros’ cool way of organizing, as well as Tami Moore’s. Holy pretty, pretty papers and lots of things to look at!

My way is much more computer-based. Because I’m a computer addict, and because all that paper, while pretty, makes me feel a little insane and a whole lot overwhelmed. Instead, I use Scrivener from Literature and Latte. I not only throw in all my ideas and research, but also all the photos that I use as resources. I even write the draft of the novel in the sucker. For me, it works to have everything all in one place, and search-able as well (in a way that paper isn’t).

Here’s an early screenshot of my planning process. You can see that I have all of the scenes ready to go, as well as lots of research about the objects, characters, and places that I’ll use. In addition, I typically keep the image of the character open in the far right so that I can remember details of that character as I write about him or her.

Do YOU have a novel-planning process? If so, what is it, and how does it work for you?

A little further along the moonlit path, s.



9 responses

  1. kathleen bradean

    This is my first try at NaNoWriMo. I’m using the Snowflake method as an experiment. I have my spreadsheet set up for scene by scene with the POV character, the setting, other characters in the scene, and then the sequence of events. I’ll use that for reference. If all else fail, I’ll always know what comes next!

    October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

    • I used Snowflake for one novel, and I liked it a lot. In the end, though, it wasn’t visual enough for me in the way I needed it to be. One small chunk at a time is about all I can handle!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:53 am

  2. OK, now I’m really scared! 😦

    October 25, 2010 at 11:47 am

    • No, no, don’t be scared! It’s not as bad as it looks, by far. I promise!

      October 25, 2010 at 11:54 am

  3. kmthouston

    HOLY MOLY…I was bummed to see that Scrivner was only for Mac OS, BUT…check this out…even more motivation to get on the 2010 NaNoWriMo bandwagon:

    (from their site re: a Windows version to be released 2011)
    “Anyone who participates in NaNoWriMo this year and achieves their 50,000 words (and has them validated) will get a 50% discount coupon which they will be able to use when Scrivener for Windows is released next year.”

    I mean it’s only $40 as is, but 1/2 off is good in my book anyday. How cool is that for us non-Mac folk?!

    October 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    • I know, right? Writers have been waiting FOREVER for Scrivener to come out on PC. I think it’s so cool that they’re doing that!

      October 27, 2010 at 1:11 pm

  4. Great news about Scrivner, thanks for the update KMTHOUSTON! I can’t wait for the windows version 🙂
    I have been using Liquid Story Binder, and it is freaking awesome!! Of course, I do not have anything to compare it to, but it is a life saver. I haven’t yet used all of its features, but those that I have used, have spoiled me rotten. Great organization, and I am able to back it up with a single click. They have a free 30 day trial if anyone wants to check it out.

    October 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  5. Pingback: Planning: Getting It All Together « What the Moon Saw

  6. Sonia, thanks for the info on Liquid Story Binder. It looks cool (and aside from the free-trial offer, is 1/2 off for NaNo). I’m alittle nervous to embark on it so late in the game for fear I will waste time figuring it out vs writing. Thoughts on ease of use?

    October 30, 2010 at 5:16 am

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