Thursday, 29 July 2010

Planning a book

I'm currently editing a novel, which is a completely thankless and dispiriting task. It makes you wish you hadn't written the bloody thing, or at least had written it loads better. All my books suffer from having no bones at all. In fact, any short story over 1000 or so words or one scene suffers from poor structure.  Consequently, my novels and longer fiction tend to have a very simple linear structure and have to be written in the past tense. So, trying again - and I have tried many times before. Analysing my own writing is painful, I have scenes that have powerful hooks... but fade away, scenes that introduce bags of conflict... that doesn't get resolved or, even worse, mentioned again. So, I've devised a simple table with the three strands of my novel and broken it into scenes. Using an aide memoir I made last year as a checklist of scenes, I'm now having a go at writing all the scenes. I don't want it to be too confusing, hopping back and forward too much in time, but the two linear threads wind their way parallelish.
How do people plan books, anyway? Does anybody have a good book/article on the subject?


  1. I had so many issues until K M Weiland put a write up on her blog about yWriter. It was free, so appealed straight away. I downloaded it with no problems. The great thing for me was I could write scenes in simple format. When all the work was done, I copied it to word for editing (the spell check is no good on ywriter). All character info can be stored on it for reference, it is great for planning.

    My second book is going to be created using it, but this time I will write the scene then upload for edit to word, it will be quicker than 20+ chapters at once.
    I have taken the liberty of adding a link to her video on youtube.

  2. Hey hey,
    Sounds like your ploughing through! As I mentioned on one of your last posts, I've just finished reading a book about writing a screenplay. I'd asked a friend if he could recommend any books about how to plan and structure a novel, and he (confusingly at the time) lent me that book.
    Well, I've read it and he was right; it's excellent for preparatory planning and structuring, and I think the advice in the book is certainly applicable to novels as well.
    If you're interested, here's a link to a review I just wrote:

  3. Hi, Glynis, thank you for the tip, I downloaded it and have had a little play with it. It should help me make sense of all the scenes.

    And Rosie, I had a look on Amazon for the book which also looks really helpful, and a UK second hand copy is on its way. This blogging thing is turning out to be very useful! Thanks again.

  4. Hi Rebecca
    I came across another piece of software like yWriter, but it costs. It was so good I bought it and am using that instead. It is only £20 so didn't break the bank. MyNovel is the name of it. I like it because it has a selection of groups to pop into. Plus it has a great way of giving you inspiration while writing should you need it.
    Thought I would mention it. :) nothing to do with the company, just sharing.

  5. I'm still wrestling with yWrite. If I find a software package helpful I'll look into buying one, they do make sense!

  6. I am editing my ECA for A215 at the moment, if all goes well I hope to do A363 in October.
    Reading your Blog has given me the boost I needed.
    Best regards.