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.