Alright I have an idea… A couple of characters and a bit of a setting burning in my brain. Now I need to get started on the story. Sometimes it just comes to me and I write, but that often leads to me getting stuck or deciding to change ideas. When I have a really good idea forming I do some research in this planning stage.

It might be location research. When I wrote Ghostnapped I was on a camping trip. I took Obi and my camera. We went exploring. Obi used to be my planning buddy for sure. We went on lots of walks and always took the camera (I love digital cameras!!!!)

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This just means I can come back to the photos later and see if there is something I have missed. Photos can also be used later on for illustrations. I often find my characters evolve more if there is a location. Certainly the unique monster in Ghostnapped came completely from the local environment. That made it even cooler, it gave the monster form and motive.

At the moment I am planning a pirate story. So the beach is part of that. I can imagine a pirate ship sitting on the horizon. Captain Walt Sharkchum standing a the helm… more about that later.

During this stage I get out a note-book and start recording. Characters, plot ideas, settings, anything that comes to mind.

Then I will work out what type of story this will be. A chapter book (usually for me) or something longer? Then you can plot out short chapter outlines. I never write more than a sentence. It’s just a guide at this stage. So I don’t forget things and also to see if there is a full plot. Sometimes this activity raises questions. Either about characters or plots. So then the research can begin. This is actually one of the best parts (more about research soon!). While I am doing this I will actually write bits of the story too. It might be a character entrance (another prompt from Start the year off write), or just a cool thing I absolutely have to have in the story.

I don’t always take this approach. However as I become more serious about writing and publishing books I have found doing this actually increases my chance of finishing the first draft. I don’t look at it when I am writing, but it is there if I get stuck. Generally I look at it once the draft is done and see if I missed anything. A bit of a guideline.

How do you plan your stories??? Writing this blog has given me more ideas, better get them down! Until next time – have fun!

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