Just wondering how long it takes to plan a novel--roughly.
From making character notes, to scenes you want--listing them, filling in the blanks--
when is enough enough, in your estimation?
Hope I made myself clear!

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You're clear, but it's a question you may get a lot of vague answers to. I've never found a consistent way to plan out my books. I always outline, but sometimes I outline the whole book, and sometimes I outline several chapter ahead of where I am now. The WIP had a complete outline, with brief character sketches, in about six weeks. (Bear in mind I work full-time and have a daughter, so I only get 60-90 minutes a day to actually sit down and work.) On the other hand, this idea has been rattlng around the back of my mind for six years or so, a fragment here and a fragment there.

I'd say not to be in too much of a hurry. An extra day or two on the front end might save weeks later on. But, don't let yourself get bogged down too much, either. My outlines are complete, but sketchy. I leave lots of room for changes as I write. Characters take on new facets as the story goes, so new ideas will keep coming as you write, things you could not have thought of without several thousand words on paper. I think it was Patricia Highsmith who advocated the headlights theory, plotting several chapters ahead of where she was. Her premise was, the headlights on your car won't show your destination right away, but you can always see far enough ahead to safely get there eventually.

Vague enough for you?
not vague at all! headlights are a good analogy. and I love Highsmith's stuff anyway. I think I do pretty good planning but then decide to jump in too fast and wind up confused, scared and so on. I keep going, but it's a trial.
I think writing a chapter ahead is good. I do that sometimes.
But I also liked what you said about not being in too much of a hurry. I think that suits me best. I'm always in a hurry. Am going to work on my characters now as well as an outline. Not a one day affair either which I have been known to do! I'll see what developes.
thanks dana.
I make long plans and character profiles - I'm simply not gifted or organised enough to just go with the flow. So I probably take a month or so to do the ground work. For example I have spent this morning charting the route from Romania to the UK for trafficked kids.
HB x
thank you. MOnth or so. noted. Good luck with your charting! sounds worthwhile.
I have over ten novels that have been circulating in my head for various amounts of time, from several years to just a few weeks ago. I don't take a lot of notes so it all just stays in my head. The only novel I have actually completed took six day from start to finish, but I didn't plan that one at all until I started writing.

So I guess it takes as long as it takes. I like to let an idea gestate in my head for a while before I even start writing, but a lot of that is fear of failure and procrastination rather than needed time to develop the story.
six days for a novel wow!
I wrote a first draft in about four weeks which nearly killed me, I have to say!
I do think an idea has to gestate. I tend to rush into my writing which is not at all beneficial! as i get fed up, etc.
But I want to change this--and so I am (or intending to). thanks so much for your reply.
Six days is good. I used to be able to do that, but I'm a bit slow now. A few years back I published a book a month for a while.
Sometimes I start with a general outline that comes all at once, but even then, I follow my normal pattern which I learned many years ago.

Sometimes, without even an idea of where my book is going, I will start with a character I like, who is in motion or talking, and I dig into the book. By the time I reach page 50--remember we're talking mystery here--I know the crime, the victim, and all of the suspects and major players. I have an idea where the book is going, who it's going to go with, and along the line I have created my characters. Sometimes, I know who did it. At other times, I'm still not sure.

At the about the 50 page point, I will try to outline the entire novel. That may take a day or two--not any longer than that, because I'm raring to get back to the book.

In a nutshell. I don't just sit back and plan a novel. I go into it hard, seeing and feeling my characters as I hope the reader sees and feels them.

Preplanning, for me, would just be a form of procrastination.
Thank you very much for that.
That sounds pretty good you start it and then outline a bit--but you don't waste time. maybe you'd get bogged down your would feel you would.
I'm going to think about that approach.
I like the idea of writing 50 pages and seeing where it takes you. I'm going to try that the next time an outline refuses to come together for me.

Planning? Hah! I just dream up an idea and go with it. This carefree approach often bites me in the butt later in the book, but that's how I do my best work. I do LOTS of timelines, etc. once I'm in the midst of a book, however. Up front, almost nothing. Can't see that far ahead.
i think you guys are all saying you just jump right in. I do that usually and can't sit for a week (bitten butt)! well I guess I'll just jump in. maybe smaller jumps..


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