I have one week in which to do all my planning for NaNoWriMo (and hopefully plan the next episode of HoC, as well). First up is the story core: theme and conflicts. Keep in mind that I already have some ideas about the story. I have the seed idea, something of the broad strokes of plot, and the main characters.
I’m going to use the same planning technique that I discovered when I started work on HoC. Once I had theme and conflicts (written in terms of character with goal A versus character with opposing goal B), I figured out the rough ending I wanted for each conflict. Does he get the girl? Does she kill the evil mastermind? You get the idea. Then I wrote up a list of steps it would take me to get to that ending. Like so:
5: Girl agrees to go on a second date with Boy.
4: Boy does something amazingly good that wins back Girl’s trust.
3: Boy does something hideously stupid and Girl splits.
2: Boy and Girl go first date and hit it off.
1: Boy meets Girl and thinks she’s swell.
Well, this is a really dumb little story, but the idea is there. See, I struggle with endings. I tend to get ideas that are strong on information about the opening of a story and sometimes on the middle. But endings just don’t come to me easily. Which is why most of my longer projects have gotten halfway finished and then tapered off into nothing. This system gives me a solid goal to shoot for and lets me set up all the dominoes needed to get there.
The system also gives me a lot of wiggle room. Each entry tends to focus on the opposing needs in a scene, but not the specific events. This might sound like a weak point; how do I know what I’m going to write to convey that conflict? But the advantage is that I don’t end up over-planning the story and killing it before I start. Too much planning makes me feel like I have written the book once and now have to write it again. Dullsville. But this method leaves me a lot of room for discovery as I write.