For years I’ve struggled with the concept of planning a novel, finding no specific way that I liked to plan and reading so many articles about planning which only scared. A lot of my novel plans have been internalised and are pretty messy. I thought this would be the continuous way my planning would always go, until I found a new way which actually seems to work for me.
I call this the ‘Post-It Planning’ way to working out your novel.
It seems pretty self explanatory really – use post it notes. Basically write all the ideas you have for the book down onto post-it notes. Particular events you want to happen, a scene you had in mind, even a favourite line you want to get in. It doesn’t matter to start with how uncoordinated they are or whether they’re excessively random. Just get everything you want written down first. And then you can start working on planning it into a coherent order.
The fact that they’re post-it’s means you can move them around which is pretty great when planning. Put them into a line and move them around so it’s perhaps more chronological (or not, depending on the style of your book). It’s really helpful in trying to order the events you want in the book and is potentially easier to see gaps in the story line that you need to fill. This is because it gives you an overview of the whole thing, it’s events, situations or moments which you want to happen and in what order. You can retrospectively see what the story line is and how it would flow if you wrote it in this order. You can also tell if it’s lacking something or if there’s too much repetition or similarities between some sections.
It’s also a great way to plan your novel if the plot of it is going to be more confusing. You can use the post-its to lay out individual things that need to happen and then put it into an order which you what to write it in. Thus it becomes easier for you to work out how you’re going to formulate the plot rather than struggling to hold it all in your head or scribble incoherent notes down in a long list. The post-it method means you have something to follow when you’re writing which I think makes it potentially easier to continue writing it.
The style of this planning means you can also randomly choose scenes to write when you feel like writing that scene. Yet you’ll still know when that scene comes in and where it’s place is in the book. There’s less chance of having many random written chapters which are not coherently put together. You can write any scene at any time but your post-it note line will be able to help you put them all in the right order to create your flowing plot again.
You could also make use of different coloured post-its to mean different things. For example if your book switches between points of view use different coloured post it notes to resemble each point of view for each section. This makes it clearer in your plot for you to see which bits are which person or point of view. You could also use different colours to represent the beginning, middle and end of your plot. Or perhaps key scenes use a different colour for to separate them from the rest clearly.
All in all I think this type of planning is pretty fab. You’ll really only discover whether it’s any good for you if you try it. I was sceptical at first but I’m exceptionally pleased I tried it. For once I feel like I’ve planned a novel plot which I know will be successful and coherent. This method gives you a basis to grow your story from and you really don’t have to stick to the post-it notes, it just gives you more reassurance that you do have a rough outline to follow. You can plan which ever way suits you, but the post-its mean you can shuffle and reshuffle the order which I think is something key in planning.
Let me know if you have a go at planning like this or share your own planning methods below. I’ll be interested to see what other ways people plan!