How I Plan My Novels–And Get to the End


Hello, bookish friends! NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is still going strong, but maybe you’re feeling not-so-strong as you’re tying to tackle your writing for the day. Even if you have kickass characters, a cool setting, and some rad ideas in mind, it’s still very possible to start things up, get about 23 pages in, and think Uh-oh, I’m stuck.

Trust me, I know what this is like! I think I started two or three ‘books’ that never got past 60 pages, and then I finally cranked through a fourth storyline (50K words), looked back, and thought, Wow, this is awful. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I had good ideas, right? I’ve got that sweet judo grip on the English language. But I hadn’t taken the time to ask myself one simple question:

What’s different by the end? 

It seems silly now, but on the ‘failed’ books, I was just hurling myself into the deep end without making any plans for plot. I mean, I thought I had planned out some plot, but it was really just Here are some scenes I want to have happen in the book. The thing that really made things click for me was looking at the characters, relationships, etc. and figuring out what would be different about them by the time I reached the end of the story.

I put my own story aside for a second. Then I took an hour or so to look at a strong book that I liked. I scribbled down the main character, what she was like, what her situation was. And then I flipped to the back and wrote down what she looked like at the end. And hey, she was stronger! She had grown closer to her son! And she had thwarted a devious, dangerous person along the way. My story was set in a completely different universe, but I could see that I needed to write down the characters, what they were like, and then figure out that big question: What’s different by the end?

Think of Harry Potter. He’s living under the stairs, no friends, not aware of or in control of his powers…what’s different by the end? By figuring out that Point B at the end of the story, it makes it a lot easier to know what you’re aiming for.

Hope this helps! Feel free to leave a comment or share this with someone if you think it’ll help. Happy writing~! 🙂

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