So you want to write a novel, huh? Well, it doesn’t just happen overnight you know. It takes lots of planning, preparation and cups of tea, and even when it’s done there’s still plenty of editing and rewriting to do. It’s tough work, and it’s even tougher if you’re going at it alone, but you don’t have to. There are plenty of blogs out there that exist just to help writers, and that’s what we want to do too. So we’ve decided to start with the very basics. Here’s our way of turning that idea into a basic novel plan.
Who is your protagonist, and what is their normal, everyday life like? Write down what your character’s life is like before the novel really starts.
Something must happen to disrupt your protagonist’s life, and this something must trigger a response. This could be a death, a letter in the post, anything to challenge the protagonist either emotionally or physically.
Your protagonist must now set out on some sort of adventure in reaction to the trigger. This is where the story really starts, and you get to throw your protagonist into a whole new world that they’re not used to. It could be a new relationship they have to get used to, a new planet they find themselves on or even an accident they need to recover from. There must be an end game though, something they’re adventuring for. This voyage must lead to something, and that something is whatever you want to happen towards the end of the novel.
This is where you get to throw things in your protagonist’s way so they have to really work to finish their quest. A protagonist without obstacles makes a very short and boring book. They need things to overcome, not only to make their voyage harder but also to build their character. We’d suggest thinking of three main obstacles for your protagonist to overcome for now. Of course add more in later, but for now three will give you something to work with.
Your protagonist must now make a decision that will directly affect the climax of the novel. This decision can completely change how the story ends. It needs to be big and it needs to be a hard one to make. It has to put them protagonist in a difficult position so we can see how they get out of it.
This is it. This is the end of the journey. This is what they were searching for from the start. But how do they get it or find it? Is there a battle, is there an argument, or is there just one last obstacle to pass that’s bigger than all of the others? Is your protagonist even going to get what they want, whether it’s to escape a world or to save a loved one? This is up to you, but make it big.
So your protagonist has finished their voyage, that’s great, but how have they changed? Throughout this journey your character must have developed and the world must have changed for them. Write down the consequences of this adventure for the protagonist.
Your character must now return to their old life, back to what it was before their adventure. They probably won’t be satisfied being back there, and it’s probably a little different in their eyes, but nonetheless they’ll find ourselves at the start of the novel again. Think Harry Potter returning to the Dursley’s at the end of his first year at Hogwarts and you’ll find your ending.
That’s it, our favourite way to plan a novel. This plan will work for most genres, although it isn’t the only one out there. If it doesn’t work for you, find another one, there are plenty to choose from. If you’re a little stuck when planning using this guide, take a break and try fitting one of your favourite stories into it to see how it works, just like we did with Harry Potter in the resolution section. Is this a method that works for you? Let us know below!