I’ve started the planning for my first proper novel.  I’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is in November)… and honestly, that probably won’t change this year, as I’m nowhere near ready to start writing.  But it’s the kick in the pants I needed to pull this off the back-burner and at least try to get the planning done by the end of October.

If you asked me, I’d say that there are four elements to a novel, all of them important for their own reasons:

  • Theme ­— What is the story about? What’s the moral? What’s the question?
  • Setting — Where does the story take place? What’s it like to live there day-to-day? What’s possible there, technologically / politically / socially?
  • Character — Who’s in the story?
  • Plot — What happens in the story? What’s the conflict that makes the story interesting?

(My tendency is to work through them in the order I’ve listed. Other authors may differ.)

So far, I have the themes nailed down and a pretty good idea of the setting. I have a vague idea of how the story starts and ends, but I don’t yet have a plot because there’s no conflict.  I’m tossing around some ideas for one or more antagonist character(s), and once I have them, they’ll determine the plot. Probably.

I also need to populate the setting with more characters for the protagonist to interact with. So far I have the protagonist plus two, but that’s an awfully small world. Some of the minor characters I’ll invent on the fly as I fill in the story, but I need at least a few strong, well-developed personalities for the protagonist to bounce off of.