As I explained in my last post (News After a Long Drought | #AmWriting), I have finally established the main gist of my novel’s storyline. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to start writing just yet. I’ve long been a pantser when it comes to writing, doing next to no planning and just hoping that I end up with something coherent by the end. And while that freedom can be fun, I’m at a point in my life where I really want to write something good. So I’m loathe to start writing until I know much more details about the world and my characters, so that there’s not inconsistencies as I’m writing from forgetting important, defining details.
In this post, I’m sharing the list of things I want to do before I start writing. If you’re a proud & dedicated pantser, you may not gain anything from reading this. But if you’re interested in reforming your writing self, maybe you’ll gain something from reading about one writer’s pre-writing to-do list. My hope is you might read it and find there’s something you’ve never thought about but which might make all the difference in your writing. But this list is as much for me (as I do not know everything yet) as it is for you!
A Working Title
I’ve always had a working title while I drafted in order to keep different my story versions separate. In particular, the story I’ve been trying to write all year has evolved from past story drafts, so I find it really useful to keep it separate from old discarded drafts and the ideas discarded with them. Last night, I think I came up with a good working title, so good I almost don’t want to share it, but I will: Hollow Combs. I won’t explain it, but there you go! I’ll refer to my novel as Hollow Combs from this point forward. ^_^
I already have a pretty good idea of what my MC will be doing throughout the course of the novel, having established a seven-point plot structure for her story which is the main story of the novel. But I feel like I need something a lot more visual to look at as I write. It will also be useful when it comes to plotting my antagonist’s and other side characters’ action throughout the story. I’m not yet sure what perspective I want to write my story from, so this diagram will be help me whether or not I stick solely with my MC.
I created a world map earlier this year, but I’ve not stuck to it in my head as I’ve worked on my story in recent months, so I need to see what I might want to tweak. This is also useful for series trajectory plotting, as I can see the places where my MC can go. It gives me boundaries with which I can write.
This is the biggest thing I need to work on before I start writing. I know enough about my MC’s world as far as it relates to the plot and her conflicts. But I don’t have the concrete details. I think novels with really good world-building have specific words and terms related things that make the world unique. So I want to do that, and do it by referencing history as the world of my story has so far in my head been something of an alternate universe of our world in the early 20th century. So I think it would be a good idea to do some research.
All the characters I thus far know will be in the story have evolved as my story’s evolved this year. So I really need to create updated records to which I can refer if I ever lapse as I write in what would make sense for them. This is thing I am the least excited to do, so it might take me a little longer to get organized here. I might actually start writing before I finish these records, but there are a few characters I know I ought to work on.
Once again, I hope you find this post as useful to read as it was for me to write. This post has literally been my to-do list as I work my way toward finally feeling like I’m ready to write. I’ve written novel drafts in the past during the official NaNoWriMo season and found I had no idea where to go with them next, and I think it’s because I didn’t know what story I wanted to tell. Now I feel like I do, but at the same time, I feel like doing a lot of prep work now will save me a lot more trouble in the future when I’m editing.
I’m planning to do a post on world-building next week, as that is the area that needs the most work. I’ll be working on world-building this week, so next week’s post will be a combination of the things I’ve learned and resources I’ve found helpful. If you have any suggestions, feel free to the leave them in the comments and you’ll likely get a shout-out! ^_^