How to plan a book.

I guest posted this for Sophie, who then stuck my picture up all over the screen, very embarrassingly.

1. Find a story to tell. This is key. There is absolutely no point to writing a book if the story isn’t one that will make you cry - or fly – or giggle. You will feel tingles in your fingers when you hear a good story.  If you can’t find one, create one.

2. On index cards, write down these things (and they are necessary for any kind of story – whether it’s fiction, memoir or biography):

What your character wants.

Why your character is likeable.

The theme.

The obstacles, including inner demons.

The catalyst that makes everything happen.

The reasons why the character doesn’t want to face the challenges.

A villain that appears unbeatable.

The B-story

Other characters, settings, things that happen

How your character gets past the obstacles to the mid point, whereupon everything seems like it is going to be ok.

The resurgence of the villain.

The final show down.

The endplace for the character. (Either she/he has what she wanted, or she has something better, plus a whole lot of personal growth.)

4. Arrange your cards on a board so you can see them. Make sure there are no holes in the story – how it flows, how it works and how the pieces connect up. Is the set up too long? Is the crisis too small?  Is the villain too easily defeated? Do we actually relate to the character? Delete the unnecessary bits. If something in the story doesn’t ‘sing’, don’t let it stay.

5. Using your story board plan each chapter. Write a short summary of what will go in each chapter. Decide how many words you will write for each.

6. Write your book. Stick to the plan. 

Alternatively, read these two books: A Million Miles by Don Miller and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and do exactly what they say. You cannot fail.