Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Methods of Madness



We all have our unique style of....everything. In this case, I'm curious about your unique planning methods for novel writing. I'm well aware that creativity can't always be reigned in, but sometimes there is a method to our madness.

For me, writing a novel is a mix between planning and unbridled creative expression. Usually, I need a bit of a foundation laid before I can let loose and just write. For example, I will start most novel planning by filling in some of the following, very basic, information:

Title:
Subtitle:
Genre:
Sub genre:

Protagonist:
Primary Goal:
Occupation:
Alignment:
Character Trait:

So on and so forth for antagonist and other main characters. Then I'll do a little more of a detailed character study for each character to get more of a visual idea of just who they are.

CORE CHARACTER INFORMATION
Character Role: (i.e. protagonist, antagonist etc...)
Character Name:
Nickname:
Age:
Gender:
Ethnicity:
Religion:

VISUAL CHARACTER INFORMATION
Height:
Weight:
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
Body Type:
Skin Color:

RELATIONSHIPS CHARACTER INFORMATION
Siblings:
Parents:
Love Interest:
Children:
Best Friend(s):
Unique Relationship:


After I've filled in some of this information, I have a similar method to filling out basic scene & plot-lining. All of these are simply what I like to consider the skeletal structure of the novel. They help lay a foundation for which, I can then let loose and just fill in the details. I make sure that I view this foundation as fluid, in that, things obviously are bound to change, but it at least sets me off in the right direction.

How about you? Do you have anything planning methods like this?

11 comments:

David J. West said...

I have done things similar to this but often characters stalk into my stories and I have had more than a few completely change from what I thought they were going to be like, becoming more complex and interesting in the process. So while I have some loose plans on where story and plot are going i fly by the seat of my pants and discover the journey the same as a reader does.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I never think of visuals before plot and structure. I usually wait to see what my characters are like before I give them looks. Once I've written a few scenes, and I've gotten to know them better, I start colouring them in :)

J.J. Bennett said...

I'm a bit more organic I guess. I start with an idea, research it to get ideas, create a main character and work from there out. Many characters, traits, and ideas come to me while in the creative process. They're random at times but give it places to go in other directions for future development.

catwoods said...

Yikes. I just write. I research as I go or jot notes to check things while on the fly.

Whenever I try outlining, I end up losing the initial magic that got me started. So for me, it's a total pantster job!

Voidwalker said...

David: I'm like you then. I start out with some concepts, fill in some details, then as the story comes alive, I go with the flow and let the changes happen. It's more of a starting point, and usually the later resulting characters/plot has changed.

The AA: My ideas come to me first in plot form, then as I figure out whether something is legit, then I'll fill out these things, so I'm very similar.

JJ: Organic is good. Especially Organic Fruit!! :P

Catwoods: Pantflying is fun too!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I always plan out the character in detail, even before outlining the story. Keeps me on track later on.

J.J. Bennett said...

Great Void, now I'm a bit fruity huh? Not the dsay to tell me this... Most day's I'd agree with you. Today... I'm questioning too much.

Voidwalker said...

JJ: I used to be a big "organic foods" guy a few years back. At my old job, people used to call me "Organic Paul" LOL. Yes, my name is Paul, but shhhhh don't tell anyone hehe. Anyway, hence my "Organic is good" comment. As for you being fruity, me thinks my words were twisted. :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

I attempt every method that I come across, but in the end they are as effective at the South Beach was.

J.J. Bennett said...

Gotcha! :)

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Dude. Total pantzer here. (The word always makes me think of those WWII tanks, which is sorta a great metaphor because I tend to bust through the idea in my head, grinding the plot along beneath my mighty runners as I go :D Along the way, they churn up earth, dead bodies, detritus, plants, etc. which make for great sub-plots and depth and interest. Somewhere in the midst of all that destruction, I tend to give myself rendezvous points, at which I rally my story and figure out where to go from there for total storytelling wiktory that I can spot somewhere out there, through all that smoke. (Did I bludgeon that metaphor enough yet???) :D