Wednesday, June 19, 2013

3 Creative Ways to Plan Your Short Story or Novel

All writers work differently. Some can create an entire short story or novel in their heads before they even put pen to paper; others open a blank document and plan on-the-go. If you like to have a clear plan before moving into action – either one that is extremely complex and detailed, or just the bare bones – the following tips are for you.
Don't get stuck without a notebook -
you never know when genius will strike.

  1. What are the main events in your novel or short story? Choose three or four – beginning, middle and end – and name them, adding brief notes for what happens within each section. Now write these onto flashcards, and stick them up on your wall; preferably somewhere you’ll see them frequently.

    This way, not only will you be able to refer to them when you need them, but you’ll see them all the time and find yourself constantly reminded of the important parts of your plot. Your subconscious will process them too, making sure they’re never far from your mind. This will help you to keep a better handle on your ideas.
  2. This particular method works best for novels. If you’d like a more detailed plan, buy a new notebook – you have an excuse to treat yourself to a really nice one here, it’s important after all! – and use it purely to plan your story.

    Divide this notebook into sections – one for your characters, big and small (it pays to plan your smaller characters in detail too), one for your plot and one for your subplots.

    Use the characters section for your character profiles, the plot section for detailed plans for each of your chapters, and, for the final section, detailed notes on your subplots and how they fit in parallel to your story.

    Keep this notebook with you at all times so you can jot down new ideas as they come to you. If you are very organised by nature, this way of planning will work very well for you.
  3. Think about the shape and outline of a typical family tree. Sketch one out, but instead of writing the names of your great-great-great grandparents in the boxes, write down the outline of your story instead, from beginning to end. This one is particularly useful if you have a number of subplots, or a number of intertwined stories and characters.
Planning a story, particularly a long one, can be frustrating and tedious, and at worst, you can lose interest. However, making a long plan and having fun with it can keep you motivated, and make you look forward to sitting down and bringing your vision to life.
Stephanie-Louise Farrell is an up-and-coming author who is currently working on a new novel to go alongside her anthology of short stories entitled 'Haunted' (published by Any Subject Books). Aside from her writing she loves animals and lives in London.


  1. Fabulous post, Stephanie! Thanks for blogging today!

  2. Her short stories (see link above) are excellent and I thoroughly recommend them (bit on the dark side so be warned). She's now in the process of writing another anthology and we're looking forward to reading them.