Are you a writer who has a tendency to jump right into your writing without any preparation? I used to be. Unfortunately what I’ve found is that if I write with no preparation at all that I find myself wasting time going back through my manuscript looking for little details that I can’t remember, or searching online for bits of research I need, so that when I’m writing the story is consistent. Since many of us have this problem from time to time, a little preparation before we begin writing our novel can go a long way on saving us time and energy down the road.
So, that being said, how can you prepare? Here are a few tips that I use:
1. Have a place where you can jot down details for your book. This can be a folder on your desktop, a spiral notebook or three ring binder, it’s your choice. Personally, I prefer a folder on my desktop since that is where I write, and it is easily accessible to me.
2. Create a character list. Decide ahead of time what physical and personality traits your characters are going to have. Now I realize that some characters pop up later as you write your story, or maybe your characters say to you, “That’s stupid, I hate pizza!” That’s fine, if it happens during the course of writing you can go back into your list and revise it by adding characters that appear later, or deleting or adding physical and personality traits as they pop up.
3. Create a timeline for your main characters. Have you ever been writing and then realized that you couldn’t remember a detail about something you’d already decided had happened to your heroine? I have. The way to avoid that is to create a timeline for your main characters, and if you think you need it for any important secondary characters.
4. Create a description of the “universe” your story takes place in. Even if you are writing a contemporary story, you might have a fictional town, or even state in your book. Create either a description or a list of important details (or do both) about your fictional place. If you are writing a historical, or a futuristic this is a good place to keep details from your research.
Having a place to keep notes and lists is one of the first things I’ve learned to do as a writer. It makes a huge difference, and I am far more productive than when I do not do this. This folder or notebook is the blueprint for your book, and will go a long way towards keeping you organized and on track with your writing. You can also add other things such as pictures you create of your characters or scenes in your book for example. I personally like to create pictures of my characters in Daz Studio and keep them in my folder. The ideas are limitless, and only as creative as your own imagination.