But Why the What and How the Who?

So, you’ve come up with your great idea for your novel. But it isn’t a novel yet. You’ve plucked that idea ever so gently from the tree in the back of your brain, but you are now unsure how to peel it. Sure, you have been having tantalizing daydreams about the ending, and maybe a sprinkle throughout, but you’re not there yet.

You are in step two, or as close to step two as one could wish to be. You are now in a sort of planning stage. As I have said before, I don’t really do the step thing, but for some of you it will help. Your idea is not good enough to have all by itself. We get it. The Rainbow Unicorn will save the world by flying to the top of Candy Mountain to defeat Lord Sour Head.

But why the what, when, where, and how? (pause for applause from oxford comma enthusiasts)

You see, I have just come up with a bunch of questions that you can’t really answer right now.  THAT’S NOT A BAD THING! It’s your story and I expect you to write it in whatever way you feel the best about. But if you plan to write a story, and we’re talking full novel style, we need to know some specifics. We’re far away from that right now. Calm down. We’re only on step two.

Now, there are a ton of ways to go about this. My process is a little different. It is the same way as the idea that I talked about in my last blog. It sort of just comes to me.

What I do, is I give myself a few chapters to let the story develop. With my current WIP, I literally wrote five separate chapters with characters that I wasn’t really sure were even related. Sure, they are in my novel. Or at least I want them to be. But where is the story going?

You are going to answer a ton of questions in those first few chapters that will get you well on your way to the rest. For example. Within the very first line of a chapter there was an issue with the lords of a certain province charging higher tax rates at their ports. The royal advisers, however, are the ones that set the tax rates, and could foresee substantial economic repercussions of this province going rogue.


And just like that, you must answer your first question. What will I name this place? Where is it? What kind of towns are there? What are the people like? This helps me be more creative, and let the story come to me. I have never been the best at sitting down for hours and meticulously plotting every breath my characters take. If this is you, then good! I honestly wish I could.

I am one step short of a perfectionist, and while I love things organized and neat. Everything goes in its place. Karen, put that stapler back at the forty-five degree angle I had it in! I get so bored, boring down over every little detail. I also find it helps the creative juices to flow a little more freely. Instead of putting everything into little boxes, I grab a handful of seeds and throw them out into the yard. I just sit back and see how they grow.

This goes to show two things. One, you can write however you want. And two, you can outline however you want. I know people who say outlining is better, and those that say winging it is better. The truth is that I’m a pantser, and the reason I am that way?


Long story short, I let the details come to me. As I tear off into writing, parts of my story force themselves to be named and described. Once you get more places and characters then you need a map, or some sort of way to organize them. Before you know it, you are creating a world, when just a while ago, you were scratching your head wondering how to write a novel.

Bottom line (and I’m not just saying that because it’s the last line) is that if you don’t just sit down and write, it will never be written. Now go write!