Big Board Novel Planning

I just re-posted my older blog entries about phase drafting.  This entry revisits Big Board Planning. I'm combining both the earlier blog post and the related photo essay.  When I finish this entry, my next post will be about how I'd go about planning a novel today. (Process is an evolving thing and I choose to think that's as it should be.  What works for me may not work for you.  What worked for me today may not have worked for me yesterday.)

Original Post:  September 1, 2009

Today I finished the first chapter of the new book.  Whoohoo!  So much time went into planning for this first day.  The difficult part is not figuring out what to say.  It’s figuring out what parts of the story will fit into this particular book.    I have the whole concept in my mind, but writing random bits of the concept into each book does not make for good story-telling.

Each book needs its own story, its own arc, and each story contributes to the larger mythology of Claire’s world.

Preparing to write First Words today, I’ve been playing with my existing outline, moving things around, asking how I will build up to specific plot points.  Sometimes I can’t see it from my computer work area and I need to go to the big boards where I can spread out.

Yesterday my 11yo daughter asked to participate with me in what she called “a writing party.”  I passed her a big board and some stickies and a bin of Sharpies and she pulled out the outline of her own middle grade novel.  And we worked together.

As I explained some of my planning method, I set up my own board with blank elements, before adding detail.  I took some pictures of these to share with you all.  I hope it’s helpful to those of you who choose to do planning.

Too often people tell me they don’t outline because it’s too boring or their muse rejects the idea.  That may well be true, but it might just be that you’re outlining in a boring way.  For me, it’s more like writing a rough, rough draft on sticky notes, notecards, and napkins--and then shuffling the whole thing into a pile and putting it together like a puzzle.

I don’t do dull outlines.  I do, however, plot and structure my novels.

My Big Board Planning Photo Essay from September 1, 2009 is now a YouTube video. Yeah!


  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Reader Writer, Whiz Buzz. Whiz Buzz said: Big Board Novel Planning: I just re-posted my older blog entries about phase drafting.  This entry... #favblog #writers [...]

  2. @johannaharness Yay, for big boards! Now, if I could only get to the wall where mine is... #NaNo #amwriting


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