Planning with Scrivener

In a previous post I explained how I was going to approach NaNoWriMo 2016 by sticking to the three act structure and creating a pulse for my novel, by introducing cliff-hangers at the end of each scene.

Now I’m going to think about what the skeleton of the novel looks like in practice.

I used to plan novels using a combination of powerpoint, word and excel. Word provided my synopsis, powerpoint allowed me to draw out the plot chapter by chapter and shift boxes around, and excel helped me get into the detail of each chapter and keep a record of what had been included where. This wasn’t an ideal solution as it involved flicking through lots of documents.

Now I use scrivener, which provides all of that planning functionality for you and also provides a place for you to actually write the novel itself, easily move around the chapters and transform it into a manuscript ready for Kindle publication. You can trial Scrivener here and see what you think.

So, I’ll talk about the actual plot of the book at later, but for now I’ll talk about planning for NaNoWriMo. I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times before now and I know whatever I do I’ll need to do a lot of editing. I also know it can be disheartening if I hold myself to too high a standard when I’m writing the first draft, as some of it’s likely to be a bit rubbish. The key is to get the words out and get to the end. You can edit later.

With that in mind, for me it’s best to over-produce, rather than underproduce. It’s easier to write 100,000 words and edit out 50,000 of them than to try and write 50,000 good words the first time. Sometimes you have to get all the rubbish writing out of your system to hit the gold.

NaNoWriMo has a target of 50,000 words in a month (which is certainly ambitious) but the average novel is at least 70,000- 80,000 words. For NaNoWriMo 2016, I’m going to write at least 100,000 words, in the hope that 70,000 of them will be good.

How will I split up these 100,000 words? Well, given my last post about the “pulse” of a bestseller novel, I’m going to split this up into very small pieces – 100 scenes of 1,000 words. I’ll edit these later and split them into chapters, but for planning purposes I’ll broadly divide them into the following:

Act 1: 25-33 scenes

Act 2: 33-50 scenes

Act 3: 25-33 scenes

I’ll put as much info on the outlines of these scenes into Scrivener, using the corkboard functionality and then take it from there.