How I intend to write a book

It’s not even his biggest book

Spurred on my a tweet from Wifey about how she was minded to write a novel, I thought I’d run a rough word count on my blog. It’s somewhere around 400,000 words, which is getting into Peter F Hamilton terrority. I too could have my name horizontally displaced on a vertical book if my blog was a novel.

Writing the words that go into a book isn’t difficult, I managed 60,000 odd of them, some of which are on my other blog I am Currently Writing, but the thing stalled because that’s just what I did; I wrote. What I should have done and what I intend to do for the sequel that I’ve mentally mapped out* is spend quite a lot of time planning it.

I’ve no intention of writing serious fiction, or even genre stuff like sci fi or fantasy (although that’s where a lot of my reading takes me), so I wont fall into the problems that over ambitious multi-volume work does. Around the middle of the series, the author invariably realises that the main characters are so far apart that he’s got no idea how to bring them back together within about another 400,000 words. If your name is George RR Martin, it will take you 5 years to sort this problem out and write the next book.

I’m vain enough to think some of the humorously fantastical situations and interactions I’ve written are funny but I’m rooted enough in reality to know that the organisation, plotting and pacing of the thing is a shambolic mess. Hopefully the following plan will help me.

The Cunning Plan

  1. Summary- I’m going to summarise the book in a couple of paragraphs on an index card. This is the beginning of my pyramid approach. 
  2. Beginning/Middle/End (BME)- on 3 more index cards I’m going to briefly outline the “set up”, the “event” and the “solution”.
  3. The Detail- each BME index card will have 7 additional index cards behind it that further break down the events and story into what will hopefully be 21 sections. I don’t want to think of these as chapters because they wont be equal in length or importance, they are just something to hang events off but if each of the sections averages 5,000 words, that’s 100,000 words that are well planned, well thought out and don’t have to be written chronologically.
Previously I had thought to write a series of scenarios that loosely hung together (almost like a sketch show, featuring the same characters**) and then go back and insert a plot. Whilst it might have worked for the Python’s when they made the Holy Grail, they’re obviously a lot more talented than me.
I think this will work for me and I’ll admit not having read any of the Write your own book guides out there because what works for someone doesn’t work for someone else. I’m a contrary bugger- I don’t learn very well in lectures, which is why my attention often roams. I learn by doing and problem solving, so ever since my first attempt ground to a halt, I’ve been pondering.
Think I’m doomed? Let me know in the comments! 

*the sequel that, hopefully, when I’ve written it will give me the impetus to rewrite and finish the original
** it actually started off as scripts for a 6 part sitcom for a BBC talent competition I never got around to entering.