Start with the big picture by crafting the premise/underlying idea of the story.
Expand on this premise, asking:
- Who is the main protagonist and how will they change from the beginning to end?
- What is the situation and central conflict?
- What are the character’s objectives and wants/needs?
- What are the stakes—what will happen if the character fails or doesn’t get what they want?
Write a one-paragraph summary of the novel
Determine the setting. Setting should relate to the story, either because it directly effects the story or characters or because it sets the right tone/mood.
Research the details and plan how they will interact with the story
- What elements will impact the story?
- What elements will set the tone/mood
Determine secondary scenes.
- Determines which scenes will play out in what settings
- There should be a good reason for each placement
Write character profiles
- Include backstory, current situation, and endpoint
- Determine what the character needs to learn by the end of the story
- Plot the steps the characters will need to take to resolve internal issues
- Determine what external forces will push the character to develop
Develop secondary characters
- Develop limited backstory
- Develop how they influence or support the main characters
- Determine their mini-arc in relation to the main storyline
Construct the plot
- Construct a timeline of events broken into the 3-Act structure
- Act 1: Meet Cute, Refusal/Rejection
- Act 2: Giving in, Testing the relationship, Midpoint crisis, Reconciliation, Falling in love, Breaking up
- Act 3: The sacrifice, the HEA/HFN
Break the timeline events into chapters
- Each chapter MUST have a timeline event
- Don’t cram too many events into each chapter
Develop individual scenes with a chapter-by-chapter outline
- Organize major events into appropriate chapters
- List one major event/scene for every chapter
- Each chapter should have its own theme and major/minor plot point
Add limited details about what will happen in each scene
- Something must happen in each chapter: action or character development
- Each plot point should move the story forward and be relevant
- There needs to be constant progression in the storyline and the characters
Add as much details as necessary to guide the writing
- Develop setting, character traits, backstory, and more
- Focus on the big picture elements first