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Here is part two of my series, “How I Write”. This blog I will describe in detail just how I set up my novels/stories/etc.
Before, I gave you the generalized four step process of my setup. If you missed this post, click here. On this post I’m going to get very detailed, so I apologize that this will be a long one.
Plot or Character
Depending on which idea comes first, this should be the first area to tackle. Especially if you are going through Young Adult Fiction. When I’m getting my novel set up, I usually have a character in mind. So we’ll start with how to set up your Main Character.
First off, you don’t know your character enough yet in order to write out a full detailed character template. This is where summarizing comes in handy. I practice having summaries for every main character and even some of the more important supporting characters, also. It all depends what you want to do, but I find this the easiest way and a way to get started even quicker.
Character or Plot
The last step I talked about doing the characters, this one is primarily the plot summary. Remember, you need conflict and tension. Write a three paragraph summary of the entire novel or story that you are planning. Be prepared to get a hand cramp on this one because when you have the summary done, add in conflict and lots of it. What is the worst thing that could happen to your Main Character(s)? Do it. How can you escalate the plot to make us as readers care about what is happening? Do it.
This, by the time you are done, will result in easily a five page summary of your story, but don’t fret you are not done yet.
Step Three: Setting
Personally, I find the setting the most difficult part of writing a story because I don’t like going into full detail. My job as a writer is to give the reader the guidelines, they finish the story. That’s just how I feel, though.
One way that I found to make it easier to write the setting before setting up the first draft, I write four paragraphs of places that will never get seen by the reader. (They always can come in handy later.) With this, you get the general idea of what you’re going for.
After, I use a setting template that resembles that of a character outline template. This shows you how much life you have in your setting. Treat your setting like you would a character. If you have a boring setting with nothing going on, you might as well have a white background.
Step Four: Research
Have you found the perfect character, plot, and setting yet? Probably not. If you want certain things to happen (plot) to certain people (character) in a certain place (setting), you have to know everything you can before hand.
Research means a lot of things. Google, Bing, Blogs, Books, Pictures, or hey! Even delving into your own brain works as research. Who can make your character better than you? Sometimes if you’re writing fantasy, you have to imagine how it will look, feel and what will happen. Google doesn’t answer everything.
Research your options. Look up pictures of settings you’re thinking about placing in your plot. What makes a college different than a high school? What makes an office job different than a server’s? Know it all so you can write it more efficiently and correctly. Granted if you are writing fantasy there is a little extra leeway for you.
Check out today’s Quote of the Day here.
Want a template example or two? Here.
How do you write settings? Here.