Even though I’ve published four novels, I did not do any kind of pre-planning when I wrote them. I just got the idea and dove in, stalling, restarting, taking long detours as I figured out the story and my characters. I may still do a lot of wandering with this book, but I’m curious to see if a new approach changes the process in any way for me. Not just how the book unfolds, but how I like it.


Character Charts

Using a handout from the story plotting class I just finished with author and teacher extraordinaire, Eleanor Brown, I created the charts below. Why? Because I wanted to get tactile, to open things up and feel like I could really go at it with brainstorming (the paper is 14″ x 17″). Oh, and I also had this bag of brand new Sharpies and I wanted to use them.  😀

Chart 1: So in the first one, I wrote the name of my character in the big circle in the center. Then I just started jotting everything that came to mind for all of the categories: wants, needs, loves, fears, etc. Some will stick, some won’t, but in keeping with the brainstorming/drafting idea, I wanted to let things flow and not censor anything at this stage.


Chart 2: On the other side of the sheet, I listed the questions Eleanor had posed to us on the handout and answered them as best I could.


What I Liked

  • A bunch of white space–it felt like freedom.
  • Colors–felt artistic
  • I got in a groove and really went crazy on some of them

What I Didn’t Like

  • Vey little. I did get discouraged once or twice when I couldn’t put something down right away, but that just meant it was an area that I needed to think about. I did try to put at least one thing down in each area and for every question for Chart 2.
  • It’s not easy to replicate. I will have to create the chart each time I want to brainstorm a major character and some minor characters. But on the upside, it forces me to slow down and I spend time thinking about that aspect as I create a new chart.

What I Realized

I’m impatient. Okay I didn’t just realize this. I’ve known it for awhile. But it really hit me while doing this exercise. I always want to jump right in and write because that’s the “good stuff.” It turns out it’s all good. Planning ahead got me really excited about the writing. But I’m not starting the draft yet. I have more planning to do!

NEXT WEEK: Plotting! I had an AMAZING brainstorming session for this book with my critique group last Friday and can’t wait to share some of that experience next week.