My Novel Planning Process


As the summer starts to wind down I am slowly turning my attention away from my historical dressmaking and returning to my art and writing. I tend to write more in the fall and winter. I can make myself a spot of tea and gather around my flickering computer screen to warm my hands on the keyboard.

Tools of the Trade

I used to be a pretty consistent Bullet Journaler but when I left the military I didn’t have as much time to make my own bullet spreads. I now use my pile of dot grid journals for planning my novels. A good dot grid journal is by Leuchtturm1917, these journals have come way down in price and are only about 20 bucks. There are also tons of options now on Amazon, just remember to read the reviews. Always take into account paper weight and if others have tested the paper with the type of pens you’re planning to use.

I also used to be way into Fountain pens. I would sit and watch the monthly update videos for Goulet Pen Company all the time. I have a beautiful Kaweco brass pen that I still need to clean out because I just haven’t the time anymore to keep it inked. I also have my favorite pen which is a TWSBI piston ink-filler that allows you to fill that puppy up and it’ll stay inked for ages. I usually keep it filled with a purple De Atramentis, the ink is called Alexander Hamilton. Chef’s kiss, best combination of tools to really get me in the mood for writing.

World Building

Usually when I start writing, I just let the muse take me where she will. I tend to have a vague idea of what I want to write, a character or two and a setting. Then I just write however long it takes me to run out of steam. This usually varies between 5000 and 10,000 words. Once I get to the point that I can’t really remember the details of what I’ve written at the beginning, then I really start digging into Scrivener and setting up a dedicated journal to keep track of my ideas and the world.

Scrivener is a good program but it just takes a little to get used to it. I like having a journal I can flip through for inspiration so I tend to have both going. Especially for my Lord Mecha project. That is a pretty robust world at this point and it can be hard to keep things straight sometimes.

I also use work books and other novel writing resources to help when I’m stuck on something. I was really hitting a brick wall on my Julian DeWren fantasy novel for the longest time until I started working on the different continents and political leanings of each kingdom. It really helped in making that world seem real to me and I could place my main characters inside of this world more easily.

Remember, it’s a process.

I have four novels that I at least want to touch on during Preptober. That way I can really figure out which one I absolutely want to focus on. I already have 20,000 words written on the sequel to my Lord Mecha book so that is going to be a project that I will get out of the way first. The first book wasn’t that long so I don’t want to make the sequel massive in comparison. I know that I’ll be sick of that world once I complete that novel so I’m going to have to have another novel to continue after that.

My journals act as both inspiration and a way to make sure I’m staying on track with where I want to go with the story. I know that I don’t have a journal for my horror/survival novel put together yet but that’ll be a fun project during Preptober. It’s a novel that is going to draw heavily on my military experience so I have a feeling that particular story is going to be easy for me to write.

It’s essential to flesh out your main characters and also ask questions of your plot line. I wrote down a lot of ‘what if’ questions for my Julian DeWren novel and that got me invested in the story. The novel itself actually only has about 2000 words actually written but I have a fully journal dedicated to the world. This means that when I sit down to write the narrative, I’ll be less worried about where to take the story and more focused on enjoying the writing process. Of exploring this rich world that I’ve already built.

Remember, it’s better to be done with something than for it to be perfect. You can always go back and edit. Always go back and get someone else to edit. But you can’t edit something that isn’t there.


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