Planning For a Novel

Research I find easy. I can spend hours and hours reading up on a topic, and I will absorb all of the information like a sponge. I can map a story out in my head, and when I go to write the words flow over the page like a bubbling brook. But the planning…well, that often leaves a lot to be desired. My problem is that, once I start writing, I don’t want to stop. In the short term, planning out each chapter gets in the way of my immediate desire to write. I have tried everything; notebooks, sketch books, Power Points, dot points, flowcharts have all been attempted to no avail. And then, in planning for last year’s NaNoWriMo I unwittingly stumbled across a planning technique that actually seems to work for me. And so I am sharing it with you. It may not be anything new, or anything special, but I would love to share it in case it will help any one person with their planning.

I got together a stack of about 20 pieces of scrap paper. I am a big ole tree hugger, so any printing I do gets cut up until quarters. So these scrap pieces of paper are one quarter of an A4 piece of paper. I folded this pieces of paper in half, and then stapled (sometimes I use sticky tape too) along the fold line. And, ta da! I had myself a miniature scrap book for minimum expense (because, let’s face it, us writers are not generally known to be magnificently wealthy). It can fit in my pocket or handbag, so I always have it with me.

 Image: My most recent creation

Each page in my miniature scrap book represents one chapter in my story. This is the genius behind my discovery. Limiting myself in such a way prevents me from rambling on in my planning. It means I only have space to put essential points down. There is no possible way that I can begin writing my novel in this book. Not unless, that is, I discover a machine like the one in ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’ and I, along with my pen, get zapped down into miniature size. I have now planned several stories this way, and am very pleased with my invention. 

Does anyone else have any planning tips or ideas? I would love to hear them!  


  1. I have a big read leather journal which I write notes and scribblings in. When an idea comes to me, I write it down in my journal and I tend to brainstorm the heck out of it. It's probz not the most organized way of doing it but it works for me. It's kind of organic.

  2. I think my problem is that I do my brainstorming on whatever scrap piece of paper I can find, OR I plan several stories in the one notebook and I get confused. A big red leather journal sounds awesome - I think I would be more likely to take care of it. Thanks for sharing!


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