When I start a new novel I always go through a process. I can never just sit down and start writing, not without knowing the outcome of the story. There has to be a timeline, there has to be a plan for the characters. Knowing their own unique personalities before I begin is most important to me. In the novel I’m working on now I have SO many characters that separated them by their ownersonality has been difficult at times, but working in so many different settings has helped and it is probably one of the most exciting stories I’ve written so far. I’ve never tried to work with this many characters in one book before so it’s definitely been an adventure for me.
So this is a list of the steps I take before I begin writing:
- Know the basics (time period and main plot)
- Come up with a title
- Will this be a series or stand alone? (Based on the plot, can I tell this story in an 80,000 to 90,000 word novel or do I need to expand to a sequel?)
- Come up with characters names and develop their personality by doing so
- Write a synopsis detailing the main character’s journey and the ending
Generally a novel can be as long as you wish, there should be no limit to word count. But neither do you want a novel to be so long that your reader gets bored with the minor details. Depending on the type of genre you pick, you must decide whether or not you want your reader to be on the edge of their seat at some point, with anticipation for a second novel. My current WIP is such a novel. With so many characters and such a big plot I knew that I couldn’t sum it up in just one book, but had to take a chance and go for a series. But sometimes coming up with a series can take you by surprise. With a subplot you might discover a new story for one of your minor characters that could be a novel all on its own later on.
Then the whole process begins again! Which to me is one of the best parts. Writing an intriguing synopsis always helps me delve deeper into the mood of the story, and fills me with anticipation of what’s to come. Because I never know where my story is going to take me or how my characters are going to surprise me. Discovering new characters is like making new friends and that’s why my mind never runs out of stories and I don’t think it ever will. There will always be a new character waiting for his or her turn in the back of my mind and I will have no choice but to write their story. A synopsis at the start can never fully reveal the story in it’s entirety but it gets you started on the path to a conclusion. What happens in between is the exciting part. Sometimes your characters might even have secrets that you don’t know about until you’re writing it. I love that part.
So that’s my process. Details have always been very important to me and jumping into a story blindly is not something I can do. But discovering the little details, the little surprises along the way, is what keeps the story fresh and exciting. As the writer I will always love my characters and their stories and I hope that one day my readers will love them as much as I do.