The secret’s out.
I’ve officially started writing the sequel to In Wildcat Hollow!
Of course, starting a sequel isn’t nearly as hard as starting a book from scratch! With a sequel, you already know the characters, setting, and plot (hopefully!)
But I figured, since I’m starting a new book (it is a new book after all, even if it’s a sequel), I’d show you guys how I go from book idea to a fully fleshed, ready-for-the-first-draft outline!
This is by far my favorite part of the entire writing process. Fleshing out and describing my characters is so much fun! When they come alive and begin acting on their own, that’s when you know they’re fully developed and nearly their own person.
(It does backfire tho because then they start back-talking and won’t follow the plot, ugh.)
But anyway, some things to figure out about your characters are:
- their physical appearance
- what do they look like?
- how do other characters perceive them?
- what do they think of themselves?
- how do they talk & what are their dialogue quirks?
- their backstory
- how was their relationship with their family?
- what kind of household did they come from?
- does anything happen in the past that the character deals with during the story?
- their personality
- are they introverted or extroverted?
- what is their Enneagram number or MBTI type?
- what are their character strengths and weaknesses (stubborn, reluctant to change, organized, etc.)
- their desires
- what are the three most important things in the character’s life?
- what is their ultimate goal in life?
- what smaller goals have they set to achieve the above goal?
If you’re needing help fleshing out your character, check out my post on finding character inspiration! There will be more to come on this subject, however (like I said, it’s my favorite part of writing the story). 😉
Setting and Places
White room syndrome is a real problem that many writers struggle with (myself included). It is defined as: writing that lacks grounding in physical reality – lacks even basic description, in terms of setting.
I struggle with white room syndrome unless I take active steps to defeat it, meaning that I have to sketch out every place in the story so that I know how to describe it. Every. Single. Place.
It’s honestly not as difficult as I just made it sound.
Writing down what you would see, hear, smell, touch, and (if applicable) taste helps keep everything consistent throughout the story. I also jot down any notes about the characters’ feelings towards the place, the overall vibe, etc. All these little notes help you feel and develop your story.
Can’t have a story without … well … a story.
I know. That was a brilliant piece of advice right there.
But seriously, even if plotting isn’t your thing, you should at least know the beginning and ending of your story. Your story won’t leave the ground if you don’t have an idea of where you’re going.
If you are a plotter, then yay! You’ve come to the right place! I’m a plotter too.
There are several ways you can plot your story. You could use the Three-Act Story Structure, plot chapter-by-chapter, plot scene-by-scene, or simply outline using bullet points.
I plot chapter-by-chapter because it helps me visualize how I will begin and end the chapter. I enjoy a conclusive chapter ending (even if it’s only a little bit conclusive), so plotting chapter-by-chapter helps me a whole lot. I also use the Three-Act Story Structure to see the book as a whole, undivided story.
Overall Feel for the Theme and Genre of the Story
Of course you should know what genre the story will be in. You don’t want to create magical creatures for a fantasy when your story is actually a contemporary fiction.
You also want to think about the theme of the story. The theme of your story is the general idea or moral you want the readers to think about and take away. The theme of In Wildcat Hollow is the power of love within a family.
Those are the top four things I flesh out before starting the first draft of my novel. Of course, things are bound to change, and that’s okay. I’ve started novels, written half of the first draft, and then decided a character wasn’t right or the plot needed to be changed. The first draft won’t be perfect (in multiple ways), but the whole point is to get the story down on paper. These first four steps can help clear your mind and organize your thoughts.
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