How to Plan a Novel ✐ Complete Workshop

and hello there allow me to introduce myself my name is M Caron and for the last four years I've been running a writing advice blog and about two years back I transitioned into a rang advice YouTube channel ever since the start of my blog I've been getting one question above everything else and I originally made this a slide show and then I made this a really crappy video because I didn't know how lighting worked and how makeup worked uh a few years have passed since then and I thought you know what let's revise and tackle the biggest question of them all National Novel Writing Month is coming up and our emo and it's the time it's time to talk about this once again I've revised my planning guide and will be tackling hit this in one video right now what are we talking about how to plan a novel from the ground up now originally I made the video guide to videos and that was both successful and unsuccessful in two different ways so I thought I would make it one concise video that you can take at your own pace there are going to be times in this video that I'm gonna ask you to take a pause or to go do something else if you want it you can or if no you can just keep watching the video it's all fine I'm not gonna force you to stop and load another video that's silly as for anything else before we dive in allow me to give you the form of disclaimer as always and reminder the following is merely just my advice my opinion and what works for me don't think it as gospel is the ticket as the ramblings of a person who developed the system like years ago and it's really been helping me before I dive around and start the process I'm gonna explain to you the values behind the system and how I believe stories work when I first began writing and I took what all the way back to high school and the start of college and taking creative writing courses there appeared to be this concept this idea that all the writers that I've read all the people that I looked up to they knew the story before they started writing and I learned not only through the act of reading their memoirs and look and digging deeper than just what my English teacher told me in high school I learned that they didn't I learned that they discovered the writing through the act of writing it's through the act of writing the stories themselves and I realize that I began writing books you know several books now yeah most of which are published already I learned that writing is the act of discovery writing is the act of going into a journey on your own stepping into the woods and seeing what you can find setting a course into unknown waters and maybe you'll find mermaids maybe you'll find the civilization of strange creatures out there maybe you'll find something even more interesting than that that is what writing is all about for me and this this system that I created years ago that I've been modifying and tweaking ever since then I created this solely on the concept that writing is the act of discovery and we don't want to spend weeks plotting the course we don't know where we're gonna find we don't know what it's gonna be we may have an idea and we're starting with some really nice chunks and ingredients but the writing itself will reveal to us what the story is in his memoir on writing Stephen King wrote that writing was like on uncovering a fossil little by little as you're writing you discover the skeleton of a creature that was down there on the earth and you wouldn't have found her otherwise and he explains that from his point of view plotting and the traditional idea of plotting coming in with these hard concepts of what has got to happen in this story was like taking hammer into those like bones and deep in the ground you break them and the story will still work of course but you're gonna have to patch it up with a lot of glue and it doesn't feel the same way again a story is the act of discovery now with that as the foundation there's one more element that I developed this entire planning got around when I first began writing books I had no planning guide at all I just cannot jumped into it and I hope that everything worked out and over the years and over the books and the many many books I discover that there's a little bit of a process that can be developed and I formed it into this guide and the president the secondary value the second thing that I built this entire system around was the ability to stay engage with the story you are probably going to spend not days weeks months maybe years writing the story and I think that at the core of the planning there has got to be the elements that excite you because you want the story to still excite you months from now you want to get up and still one to write this story and as someone who didn't finish books for years because I just ran out of steam I discovered that like grounding the story setting it at its base level and things that excite you the things that motivate you will keep you going so again this entire planning guide is built on two primal values letting story be the act of discovery and letting it develop and evolve into its own thing and it's staying motivated so with that being said let's take let's dive right in we're gonna begin with step zero and you may be wondering by the way are we gonna need to apply some stuff I'll reveal all of them in the time you're gonna need some paper maybe you can open up your favorite writing software you won't need a lot you don't need reference materials maybe some music will help but for now let's dive in to step 0 as with the entire writing process writing demands a lot from you it demands dedication and it demands your time I want you right now to close the door if you're right within your own personal space please close the door as Stephen King said in his memoir on writing close the door give yourself that space to be able to write put on some music put the time away you know and dedicate right now for the length of this video maybe a little bit more to make sure that you can follow all these steps one at a time okay this is meaningful we're gonna start with the foundations this guide is called how to plan a novel from the ground up we're gonna start we're gonna make the foundations of your story and foundations matter so please dedicate the time put on your favorite music the music that excites you right now and focus prepare a piece of paper BMA or open up your favorite writing software of choice you may need a couple of files but it will all be fine you don't need a lot just close the door and dedicate some time to this meaningful process and the entirety of what is going to follow from it this is not super this is not super hard I don't think that you need to be special to be able to follow this process it's really straightforward I made it for myself I'm not a super complicated person I wanted something that would allow me to get a foundation for the story a feeling for where the story could go and what it could be not a hard plot not a hard course but rather an idea a small that I can follow until the story takes care of everything else until the story becomes about discovering and seeing what lies ahead and now we begin this is going to be a little bit off for most people especially for those that are not used to brainstorming like this but I want you to follow along okay I wanted to try this and this is most effective when you have no idea whatsoever what you want to write about but even so they have a faint idea and you've been kind of battling with how to make it work as a story follow along try to make Turf make it fit do with the questions that I'm going to be asking you okay first and foremost on the top of your page on the top of your document I want you to write a question and answer it truthfully without hesitation and without doubt those two things are your enemies in writing and I want you to just disable them no one is going to see this planning no one is going to see what you're going to write this is for you and you only you're the writer the creator of this world that you're about to step in for weeks months maybe even years make it about you okay make it about you so take a deep breath breathe deeply exhale slowly write down this question and answer it truthfully what excites me right now I want you to make a list of everything that comes to mind do it absolutely everything that comes to mind it can be genres it can be names of shows that you like it can be concepts it can be ideas it can be cyberpunk it can be Cheryl log it can be superheroes it can be bad superheroes anti-heroes death and dying the loss of the loved one magic blood magic vampires anything you want right all these huge chunks these ideas that come to mind right all of them everything that excites you one by one make a list now I said do it feel free to pause the video if you have to and you're ready to move on unpause the video okay I'm gonna give a couple of seconds and when that time passes I'm going to assume that you have already stopped writing okay why do all of this why write down things that excite you why even bother us one person told me a long time ago when I was explaining and explaining them the system the thing is this you're going to be writing this for all while you are if you want to see this entire process through you're gonna be writing this book for a while and if you're not having fun writing this project this is one of those I want to call them just golden rules of writing and it's just golden rules of life period because you can tell when somebody's not having fun with what they're doing just go ask your English professor if they can tell when somebody actually enjoyed writing an essay they can you think you can BS your way through an essay you can't they can tell they do that for a living they can tell and you readers can tell us well when you're having fun so have fun people and people tell me isn't that selfish tore at a book for yourself I don't think so first and foremost you're writing the story for yourself you're the first reader enjoy it have fun there's nothing selfish about it because ultimately you share this story with the world have fun enjoy the story and if you get through all of this and you do the reader will be able to tell and they will enjoy the story even so much more because of it now with that being said I want you to consider the elements you wrote in that list it could have been a hundred items probably not a hundred items I hope because that's a little bit too many but even so I'm gonna ask you a tough question to consider them look at all of them look at these huge ingredients of things that you like and I want you to pick one two three maximum three of these items maximum now in the previous versions of this guide I the not ever actually talked about one thing that I actually like to do because simply writing that you like cyberpunk doesn't actually say a lot I'm actually gonna pick up their example um Shadowrun Shadowrun is a cyberpunk video game if you're right on the list I like Shadowrun and I want to write a story inspired by Shadowrun I think that there's a better way to go about doing things because we in real life we have things called loaded terms and/or baggage if you may there's a lot of emotions and feelings and ideas within concepts such as a TV show or Shadowrun and if you want to follow if you have if you want to have these be the foundation of your story I think there's a better way to go about doing things so before you circle things I want you to consider some of these big elements that really grow a view that are based on other ideas or concepts and break them down what excites you about Shadowrun what excites you about the Avengers what excites you about those things break it down analyze it disarm it and ask yourself and discover a little bit more about yourself what actually excites you as a fan of cyberpunk my favorite thing about Shadowrun which is by the way cyber point video game is the nature of their cybernetic implants and I've played the pinna paper role-playing game and I know that you can literally change anything you want about your character and isn't that the entire meaning of cyberpunk it a reality in which technology and humanity are just so close together you can change anything about yourself no not only from lens but you can even reprogram your own personality isn't that interesting and break down those things that seem so big and large disarm them what excites you about superheroes what excites you about fantasy settings and find the very chunk the delicious creamy nugget at the very center of it all that excites you to write and once you feel that you have broken these down to a level that is much more suitable to the following step I want you to consider three elements at most three elements from the list at most now the question emerges why just three of them I think three is not only a good number because of the triangular nature of geometry and how the triangle is the very center of all geometry but aside from that I think three is a really good number for just getting the base focus of your story so you're out there who may be more on the clever and insightful side may be thinking to yourselves these are the themes of our story these are these are the very core elements the tone the mood all of those things of our story another or not these three elements that you have picked and that you have circled on your list of things that excite you are merely just the lenses of the microscope through which we will look at the story again these are the focus points for our story not the tone not the mood not the overarching plot elements they are merely just the points through which we were sent we will center ourselves the route from which your story sprung from the very seed the core of the idea from which your story came to be I want you to take these the elements he could be less than three it's fine just try to keep it to three maybe four it's fine if that works with you grab these few elements and write them somewhere in your room somewhere in your writing space in Bakke bold letters because whenever the time comes when you're worried about your storing you're afraid that maybe it's not working out remember these elements the things that inspire you the things that pushed you to write and to create the story the things that they very chord told you I want to write I want to tell this story and once you have done that I want you to consider these three elements now the cream of a cream the very highest elements that excite you the most you created a list of things that are in tune with your very own way of telling stories with the very own things that you look out for ultimately writers are creating the content that they wish to see in the world and here it is the pieces the ears that will create the machine that is the story that you enjoy that the store they only you and only you can tell I wanted to consider these three elements the three roots from which your story will come to be and again in your page or a digital page I want you to write a question and once again answer it truthfully without hesitation and without doubt no one is going to see this paper no one is ever going to know that it existed it's yours and only your's to be seen you can even delete it once it's gone you could print it out and burn it for that some sort of magical ritualistic element to it no one will ever see it answer truthfully take a deep breath exhale slowly and write this question what can I cook with these ingredients and then just like with the previous steps is start writing everything that comes to mind start writing lists of ideas lists of connections between characters and events things you could imagine happening in a story like this and a story with these elements with these central points at the very center of its very being I want you to consider them start connecting dots you are a cook these are your ingredients what can you make with them I'm going to give a couple of seconds and when you're ready to move on unpause the video okay there's any you that is brought up every time that I offer this step and a lot of people out there create the the very root of their story of you may the answer to what can you cook with these ideas which is ultimately if you ask me it is the imagination alchemy within your mind melding these three things and finding a connecting point between all three of them and usually when people do that they come up with they come up with something and they they and they tell me I can't write a whole story about this to which I always reply who told you you can't who out there give you the impression fill you up with these ideals that you can't write about whatever you want to write about there are people out there who seem to be under the impression that writing requires a very particular set of subjects and ideals and concepts you can only tackle through writing you can't do anything else you can write a story about whatever you want there is no fun please no one is going to come knock on your door and tell you hey you are arrest you're under arrest for writing this story about the things that excite you there's no such thing you're going to be spending your own time out of your own personal time out of and most of you out there like I was at one point you're working two jobs you get home you don't have a lot of time for yourself and instead of watching videos or playing video games you write because that's what makes it happy that's what you want to do why would you do anything else then why would you instead of writing the story you want to write what would you write anything else yeah I understand the idea of being afraid of what people will think of you if you write an entire story about love about teenage love about loss about death in the battlefield about magic about vampires about the things that excite you it's scary putting yourself out there it's scary showing the things that are truly a part of you a part of the things that make you happy and excite you but would you do anything else though that's one of those things that I like to put forward to people and it's it scare is it terrifying to put your work out there yeah it is but I mean it's not going to happen otherwise and I hate to be the person to bring this up and I hate to be so blunt sometimes but when my life was at its lowest and when I was most afraid that I would never be a writer I the thing that heals me the thing that made me push forward was a terrible realization and I'm going to tell you that this realization now before we move forward because from here I move on to step two which is a little bit more involved but I'm gonna tell you this right now if you want to be right there writer if you want to tell stories for a living what are you if you want to do that uh it's never gonna happen if you don't write it's never gonna happen if you don't finish stories it's never gonna happen if you don't put in the time it's as simple as that and I know that two people are like duh that's too straightforward when I was at my lowest I kept restoring stories I kept putting them aside I kept rewriting them under different POVs because it felt like work but I wasn't actually pushing the story forward you can spend all the time you want and you can dream all you want but those dreams will only be dreams if you don't put in the time and I'm pretty sure that if you ask any of your favorite writers they will all tell you the very same thing writing boils down to a lot of hard work it's a lot of hard work it really is and I can tell you from personal experience that the toughest days in my life where in the days when I was working 12 hours with only three hours of sleep they they were the days when I wrote for seven hours straight because I have to finish the ending of that book not because I was under a deadline but because I wanted to see the ending and I couldn't go to bed with the thoughts in my head and I couldn't go to bed without seeing that story through the end I left for right I live for writing and I want to believe that if you're watching this video you're interested in it and I'm not demanding a super high level of commitment with you but if you're gonna write have fun really have fun because I know people who try to get have intense meaning and I'm not saying that you can't have that but they want to have all of these things and three months from now and when they're in the middle of the first draft they you shrug and they never finish stories finish stories write and make your dreams a reality okay now with that slight inspirational speech out of the way feel free to take a break if you want to pause the video go do I buy or break get some water I know that I will and we will move on to looking at these foundational pieces this ingredient this recipe that you made for yourself the very core of this story and we will start discovering the first branches of this tree that is the story you're telling me so now that you have the root ingredients and you had and you appeared to have an idea of what you could do with the story remember by the way as I've been talking this entire time the problem with plotting is that a lot of plotting goes out the window when you start writing that's just the way things are I don't know if you've experienced that I know that I have my characters are really outspoken and maybe your characters are as well I've had some well-behaved characters I have to admit that but more often than not the story becomes its own thing a few chapters in and that's ok that's why I have made this outlining and plotting to be really really minimal you will discover that in due time but now you have these elements and note that I called this for planning a story from the ground up because much like a tree we're starting with the very very early elements of the story you have the things that you pick that you enjoy the most that excites you to write and to create a story and you have an idea of what you could maybe do with them now would be a really good time to maybe gather some music leave and put it in the background things that emanate with what you are imagining or maybe the soundtracks of games and movies that resonate with the feelings that you enjoy put them on leave in the background and prepare yourself to do a little bit of much more a specific brainstorming not to a specific will be there in a little while but before that we gotta decide on the branching paths of your story I want you to breathe deeply and I'm stirring you're lining your document or flipping your page in your notebook or whatever you're writing on I'm gonna ask your question and as always you're gonna answer it truthfully without fear without hesitation and without doubt those are your enemies and we're going to defeat them one by one okay so Center your mind prepare yourself and answer this question what characters do I need to tell the story then start writing everything and I do mean everything that comes to mind we're looking for big concepts not as specifics it can be things like the main girl the companion robot and the father the mother and things like that just big concepts big titles you don't have to be specific just yet we're not baking a cake we're writing a story the measurements don't have to be perfect again I just want you to write whatever comes to mind whatever big concepts come to your mind and nothing else don't write details don't write names don't start thinking about those things just get them out of your imagination out of your mind and onto the page or a virtual screen write all of them pause the video if you have to annoy your radio move on on pause okay and now that you have this list of characters much like the actors that you would need for a play if your story was to be presented on a stage it is time to think about the stage itself ask yourself open up a neo and your line or in your page whatever you want and ask yourself another question what places do I need to tell the story it can be things like the main characters house the high school the university and things like that again write everything that comes to mind big concepts nothing specific just write down the scenes the places where you think your story will be taking place and when you're ready to move on on pasta video okay hmm someone assumed that by now you are done writing your list of characters possible characters note that all of these are possible not ultimate possible places and possible characters and there of course we can't move forward just yet there's one last part to the trifecta note by the way that the rule of threes is actually indeed an universal rule there's one last thing that we need and this is one of those most fun parts of the process I want you to take another deep breath stir on your line and prepare to answer the following question what events do I need to tell the story they concept it can be things like the boy and the girl meet or the girl gets kicked out of school or the girl and the boy fight for their lives things like that events again right all of them right everything that comes to mind and don't question yourself don't hesitate don't fear don't fret just right okay pause the video if you have to and when you're ready to move on on pause the video so now you may be asking yourself there may be something in your mind that is bothering you especially if you are not yet so from this particular method what is the point of all of us what is the point of listing all these possible characters and places and events well you see in traditional outlining and traditional planning you usually start with these elements you start trying to come up with characters and back stories and events and sorting out a timeline before you actually think about what is fun think about it now look at the sheets that you've been writing look at your you know virtual document you have already sorted out what excites you what motivates you what gets you to write and as well as a list of possible characters you have the bones now you have all of the things that you need to move forward into the more detailed parts of the face long before you even wondered around about timelines and backstories and all those things you have the bones now all you got to do much like I'm covering a fossil is to start taking it little by bit of course generally I would ask you before we start step two to take a big break so I would really appreciate if you actually took a little bit of a moment to pause the video go to the bathroom breathe step out of the room breathe drink water water is really important for you really good for you and more with the next step okay we have the foundation we have the big pieces we have the characters ideas of character settings of places on this of events all we can do now is focus on them focus on them and help them grow but of course pause the video if you have to and when you're ready to move on unpause the video on to step and welcome back hello there as I previously mentioned we're moving on to a step two of the entire planning guide for how to plan a novel from the ground up and now we have a few big elements from which we're going to be moving forward with the story the things that excite us the things that get us writing the things that motivate us to want to come back to this story weeks and weeks after we have finished this planning now we have an idea for characters and idea for places in an idea for events or we're going to be doing now and there's going to be a little bit time-consuming of course because you're going to go step by step but this is really rewarding and really important we're gonna take a moment to consider and brainstorm each of the individual elements that you wrote down you and I want to again warn you that if you wrote too many you may want to consider chopping some of those off primarily and mostly because when you're writing new characters places and events will pop up I to me in my personal experience is better to start with less than more but you know write however works for you I forgot to mention this earlier and I'm going to mention it right now I think it's a really good point to mention it on in Stephen King's memoir on writing he talks about a V of the writers toolbox and every writer has an individual toolbox they've created from all the tools that have picked up along their lifetime and I don't want you to take this video as gospel as the Bible of how to plan a novel the right way I want you to take it deconstruct it see what works for you and make it work for what you need it to be okay again with a little disclaimer out of the way let's dive in into the big core of this step this step again it's going to be a lot of you pausing and writing probably for a really long while you can come back and do more of it later I would assume but you know take the time with the following step this is really important it's going to be basically the foundation of where the story is gonna be moving forward now I want to first let's begin with character because I believe that store that characters are the center of story I believe plot is a byproduct of characters making choices and taking action and thus let's begin with characters and so let us begin I want you to take one of the characters from your list of possible characters I want you to make an additional document for them or just you know make a new line underneath their title or whatever you to name them and I wanted to start listing everything that you think you know about this character and everything you don't know about this character I have sits in the past I'm going to say it again writing is the act of discovery and all the things that you think you know about this character are is are likely to not be correct when you start writing one of the biggest problems with outlining and plotting is that people consider them to be hard rules the bible's for how this fantasy world this cyberpunk world this supernatural world you're writing works and that's not always true and I've always found that it's it feels always more authentic to let the story be what it needs to be and if you find yourself 15 chapters in and you realize that your character has contradicted something they said on the on the outline or something that you thought they would be like oh this character was not an orphan all along they actually need their parents and you may be thinking to yourselves should i silence the character now I don't think so I think that characters should be listened to and I think that you should let their voice speak and I've always found that if the character contradicts something I wrote my outline was wrong I was wrong because I had yet to meet the character right now you're not creating characters you're not fleshing them out and making them fully develop things you're creating a mold for them to step through to spring through through the alchemy of your imagination that is exactly what you're not gonna see any character sheets in this planning guide why because I found out over the years that my character sheets were mostly a waste of time Mike Europe just changed on chapter 1 and all the planning that I had done was kind of not exactly useful that's the way I grounded my planning into two very simple elements what do I think I know about this character including things such as name nationality origin anything that comes to mind and then listing what I don't know about them and then asking myself if I need to do research on those things so again make a list of the things you know about this character on the things you don't know and consider the things you don't know and ask yourself if you need to answer them right now or if they could maybe become plot points for later of the story and if you think one of those possible blood points is really exciting and fun then add it to the list of events that you have down below and of course it's also entirely likely that through the act of brainstorming you will come up with more characters and more places this is what makes it a little bit fun because suddenly your story starts to bloom in front of you it starts to grow and develop and become a little bit more complex than just a series of lists so yes once again I want you to go through your characters through your places and through your events and follow this very simple up process you can technically speaking postpone until the end of the video that's fine just make sure you do it having this small foundation even if it is just seriously two three five sentences it's fine just some things you know some things you don't know to create a save mole for what the character can be later in the story I've joked in the past about character sheets and posting the original character sheets for some of my characters from my books to show you how characters change characters will change from page one they will you will discover their voice who they are what they believe about the world as the story progresses forward so is spending a lot of time worrying about little details like that in there in the moment of brainstorming is not really that meaningful create a mold a a place from which the character can't expand from later on you will need things such as names of course and the names of places and those are all meaningful things and you're gonna have to research and come up with right now important stuff and also keep in mind that as you brainstorm more characters may pop up you know because you realize well if I have my if I have my characters telling at school they prob there's probably a teacher there that they love or that they hate and that may become a character in the story allow the story to bloom in front of you don't spend days on this a few hours will be fine you're creating a foundation now this process is going to take a little bit of a while and you will have to pause the video or wait until the end of it to complete all of these steps but for now I want you to give it the time and spend the time working on that and before I move over to the next step you know through which you can actually pause if you would like to before I do that I want to tackle a question that I get all the time and I'm gonna trip right now uh and it has to deal with this very same planning process because I I've gotten questions over the years and one of them is when do I know when I know enough things or I don't know enough things and you kinda have to play that by ear I don't want to give you a hard rope but I'm gonna give you a hard rule just so you know you have something to shoot for okay because for me I am done planning a character once I have a mental image of them a mental image and a mental taste for how they behave and what they want in the world now if you want just something to shoot for something to aim at and it is this of course completely subjective but I'm going to just give you something to shoot at and four main characters give me five things they know you know about them and five things you don't know about them simple as that and for non main characters two and two that's it is that arbitrary it absolutely is arbitrary but if you want something to shoot for there you go five things you know five things you don't now and he may give you some threats some IDs for other events and other places in other characters what you're doing right now is just connecting dots and creating a more complex version of the roots and the trees that we had before so again pause the video you have two and I'll be seeing you in a little bit and welcome back it's time to complete a step two of this process there's only three steps by the way and then the final one is actually really straightforward you have actually by now if you have completed everything up until this point it hasn't and having postponed anything you're basically done through the hardest part of the entire process and now it is time to do the big thing that everybody associates with planning we're now going to sort out the timeline for your story isn't it a little bit funny how for most planning guides and stuff like that you begin with planning the plot the order of events for your story but now by this point you have already made the elements and excite you you've created the pieces that will allow you to tell that story you have flesh them out including the events that could possibly happen in that story doesn't it feel now that all you have to do is just put these events on a timeline now as to how you're going to go about sorting them out that depends on how you tell stories and what sort of format you are you saying for your storytelling I am a bit of a nerd in the fact that I grew up in a different country and I grew up on plays not movies so I like to use the three-act structure this is unfortunately one of those points in which I can't give you a lot of advice because again every writer is different and every writer is gonna go about doing things differently I've given you a collection of tools and I'm not done yet I've got a couple more to give you but I've got these tools and I can't exactly build the house for you from this point on you have these events and I want you to consider them in a timeline organize them put them out in that index cards and sort them out you know on your bed or on the floor on the wall or some somewhere and find out if they are holes in this timeline if there are events that should happen there and seek about creating new events and sorting them out according to the previous steps simple as that what I like about this format is that's giving your collection of scenes that you could happen in your story and are more like more likely most likely going to happen and that's all you have to do when you sit down to write is just take them scene by scene now there's one more particular reason why I am not really hard about the step why I don't have have hard rules or a hard advice that I can give us because and from a particular point of view my characters tend to go their own way my characters tend to twist the story in their particular direction and I end up having a couple of events that never actually materialize because the story has finally picked up momentum and it has become its own thing he has grown out of the mold that I gave it and it's become its own thing so ironically I find myself coming back to this particular question this a question that I get all the time and a question that a lot of writers deal with primarily writers who are new to the writing process and who may have been programmed by their teachers and professors from years and years and who believe that like the authors that you look up to Neil whether was going on they had an entire complete absolute control of the stories at their wrote which I don't particularly believe is true it's true anymore what happens if my characters don't follow the plot what happens if my characters start misbehaving and my answer for that is actually a kind of personal answer and it's kind of the way that I tell stories and it's something that I realized over many many many years and I realized over the years of writing tons of books and running and writing advice vogue and all of those things I realize that I'm not the director of the movie that is my book of the movie that is projected into the cinema of your mind I am NOT the director I am not even the cast agent I'm not even the producer You Know Who I am You Know Who I realized I was all of those years the camera person I was nearly the person holding the camera and I realized that the people in control were the characters the actors of display and to me people asked me max what even my characters misbehave if there's somebody who knows what your story's about if there's somebody who knows what should happen in the story it's your characters follow your characters follow them don't question them and be their camera person I hold the camera and show the reader your character's story it's as simple as that I think it's a little bit odd to think of characters as puppets to be controlled and I think that always makes stories feel a little bit more artificial and again as I've mentioned as I told you the start of this video writing is the act of discovery writing is the act of sitting to yourself to unknown waters and see what you find it said mermaids will it be an island full of Cyclops who knows but there's only one way to find out and if you find an island of strange fish people you kill you don't get to argue with them excuse me I was looking to find some mermaids but the top half seems to be incorrect with you missed mr. or and/or miss fish people you don't get to argue with the story that you get it stories choose us as writers and the only way to see things through is to go out and write them simple as that so I may have strayed a little bit from the point but once again I want to remind you as for Serena the timelines for your story you look at the events that you have sort them out on a timeline again index cards is like the most popular way to do this though though posted notes also work as well put them on the wall put them on our whiteboard find a way to sort them off physically and look at them it's a timeline and ask yourself what events are missing you know shoot something happened x and y and create a new card for that event and fill it out as well simple as that feel free to take some time to get that done and pause the video if you have to and when you're ready to move on unpause the video so we're now ready to move on to step three but before we do that I wanted to reflect on what you have done so far today right now at this very moment you could quite literally start writing you could just go and write I would personally recommend to maybe give it a day or two let the facts the idea sink into your mind but if you do want to write which is entirely okay and I won't stop you again there is no font police I'm not going to be looking through your window hoping that you have followed every one of these steps to the letter no that's silly but I want you to consider what you have now consider these pages the this document that you made and look at this you began with a couple little chunks a little ideas things that excited you things that motivated you to write and you have them now they're yours you wrangle them you mesh them together and you created something that only you and only you could have made and that's exciting and not only that but you created characters that started as mere ideas mere sparks mere flashes amidst the moonlight sky you've made them you forged them you've created a mold for these characters to become their own people you didn't just create these puppets that you will control like the puppet master that you think you are you created people people that will bloom and expand and become their own thing in the act of storytelling not only that but also the places and you created a timeline under events that have felt organic and natural not just a collection of things that have to happen but things that may happen if possible reality within the world that you're looking at the world that you created and the world are only you and only you can write about isn't that amazing isn't that fun doesn't that make you want to write the story there's so much of you here and it's not a projection of who you are as a person but it is rather the story that found you the story that can only be tell by you isn't that amazing I think it is I think there's magic there and I think that's part of the magic that is writing so I say Bruce Lee mentioned you can go out and write right now or you could take a little bit more time and do a couple more tools that I've created over the years to enhance your ability to write the story you don't have to these are just things that I do for fun and all them not truly for fun but also to get myself deeper into the story get myself in the mood to write the story and I'm going to talk talk talk about them on step three the extra bits the following is a collection of three exercises that I like to do you can take as long as you want doing them you can pause and you can do all those things it's fine there are things that I do to get myself in the mindset there are some that I don't do anymore but I still have them on this list because it's good for people to have them in mind and to give them in mind and it helps you get into the mood to write and they're also fun to do well without being too time-consuming the first one is called the character-matrix and you've seen these around it's basically creating a chart where you take out this huge piece of paper or your whiteboard or your document and you write down your character's names and you draw lines connecting them to other characters you have a line connecting them to a character that describes how they feel about set a character and a line connecting them back to reflect how that character feels about them what you're doing is you're creating a network of character feelings and character emotions and it gives you a little bit of a foundation for how characters react to one another and how they feel to one another and an exercise like this can be really effective and it's not entirely original I'm sure you have heard about these exercises before and but what makes them effective is that they give you potential ideas for events if you suddenly realize through the act of the character-matrix that for instance character a actually hates character B and you have a protagonist who hates a random person in the story that can make that can add for more drama and more excitement and more ideas for places characters and events this again we're we're talking about fleshing out of characters we're not talking about making them more complex although it kind of does that we're talking about making it this making the story feel much more natural by having these relationships that exists not all characters will know each other and not all characters will have feelings about one another but the connections that exists can make a story feel much more grand and big and exciting so again consider doing a character matrix create little icons for your characters on a large sheet of paper and draw lines connecting them to another character and on that line write how they feel about said character it's a little bit of a silly and quick exercise but I think it can give you more ideas and if you're looking for more interesting events to add to your story I think it's one place to start and now for the second exercise two out of three there's one that I like to call the character desires I I believe that every character should want something I think that it's much more interesting when a character whether they are whip they are aware of it or not they want something and I know that some people agree with that and some people think that it's a little bit cliche and I understand that but I think everyone as a human being desire something it doesn't have to be the end of the world or world domination it can be as simple as a character wishing to get the job they want or wishing to get out of that terrible job they hate or wishing to be reunited with somebody they care about or simply wishing to get up in the mornings without dreading the past that still haunts them and now think about it that doesn't sounds so simple but it sounds really interesting to do this what I like to do select I like to go back to my character sheets if you may but you mean a sheet with a bunch of characters on it and I like to add an extra line of what I know about them and I know that they desire something and if I can figure it out then I'm there based on what I know that about that character then you're set but if you can't you can give you an idea for things in the story ironically this is one of those situations in which not knowing can be more beneficial than actually knowing so once again I like to do an exercise called the character desires in which I add an extra line to each character's little description block in which I describe what they like or what they're looking for in life or what they desire and they can be selfish desires they can be terrible desires or they can be humble desires it can be little things it can be big things but everybody wants something and these things are are what's pushing them to move forward much like the elements at the beginning push you to write there's something pushing this character to get up in the mornings or something that makes them not want to get up in the mornings not all desires are positive and not all desires are grand there are vices and there are also virtues and you can explore them through the character desires and now for the final extra bit the final activity that I like to give you to make the act of writing a little bit more entertaining and fun and literally my favorite part of this final part of the process there recharging playlists or just the writing playlist whenever I'm writing I have music whenever I want to be reminded of the world that I'm writing of the characters that I'm writing I listen to the music that I sorted out for them I like to make a playlist I like to go into a musical library and search for all booms and soundtracks that emanate with the feelings that I'm looking for and I'd like to listen to that whenever I'm writing and whenever I am NOT writing one of the hardest things about writing is staying motivated is is wanting to go back to the world when you're finished working for 12 hours at that office where you'd read everything and all you want to do is sleep but you want to write because writing is your passion and to me in those really really dark days taking the bus back you know taking the metro back and putting on my favorite playlist about the characters that I loved and the world that I wanted to go back to that made the difference for me so I want you to just open up your musical library and consider look through look through your albums you know check online there's plenty of free music out there there are plenty of amazing composers and musicians that also deserve your money and you know check out their music and compiled a playlist compiled a collection of tracks to remind you of your characters of your world and can also inspire you to write in case you don't know I've been making writing playlists for a long time over at 8-track circum slash and Karen I have a lot of them there and a lot of inspirational music I also have I also do videos on music every once in a while on the channel if you're looking for great free music that is inspired by video games which I believe that video game and movie soundtracks are the the meat and potatoes of my writing playlists I recommend the website called OC remix doriga they have free fan-made remixes of videogame track and they're amazing they have like 53 free albums and they recently released an album based on Final Fantasy 9 called called worlds apart I made a video on it it's an amazing video it's an amazing album and it's free for discs of amazing tracks inspired by one of the greatest games of all time there are researchers there there are resources out there for you and I think that music is at its core one of the most vital parts of my writing process and it may not be for you not everybody can write to music I can write to music that has lyrics on it because English is not my first language which makes it a little bit easy but don't try to make it work for you I found the music for me helped me getting to the mood and I can tell you from personal experience that you know whenever I finish writing a giant writing session and I find myself tired of writing and learning a bad sense but my brain is effectively tired of projecting a story through narration and I think that I can't come back to that world I get on the treadmill and I put on my favorite playlists for that story and I listen to those tracks they have lyrics that are hard to write to but are still exciting and I picture my characters in their action scenes I picture my characters doing stupid music videos and it excites me again and it reminds me why I do this and it reminds me why I tell stories because it's fun yes there's an element of making somebody's day brighter yes there's an element of telling a story that will linger on somebody else's imagination and if anything give them respite from the terrible world that can be kind of daunting sometimes but I think for me if it makes me a selfish person to say that I love writing because I love telling stories then I guess I am a little bit selfish I write first and foremost for myself alright because it's fun I write because it excites me and it's what I was put in this world for and you don't have to feel as dramatic about it as I do but if you enjoy writing I hope that this planning guide helped I hope that I gave you a different point of view and ultimately I wanted to go out there this is a toolbox this a collection of tools that I've given you and change it make it work for you create something that won't that only you could have made much like with this story writing is really scary because people will bard you with ideas of the great writers and ideas of experience and talent which by the way doesn't mean anything writing is ultimately hard work writing is ultimately putting in the time I hate to be this blunt but writing is about showing up and you can spend a lot of time planning you can spend a lot of time fine-tuning everything and coming up with the names for every one of the countries in your fantasy world and that's fine you can do that and I'm not saying that's wrong but I'm saying that the only way to finish stories the only way to make this dream you have a reality is to show up start writing they're gonna be hard days they're gonna be terrible days but they're also going to be easy days and they're going to be comforting days and there are going to be days when you're going to finish a terrible writing session are you going to lean back in your chair and realize that although maybe not everything you wrote was gold you did what you're meant to do tell stories share them with the world there are many quilts out there and I know because I ran on your writing advice blog for a long while and I basically know every quote on writing and a lot of alright the writers of our time agree that writing is magic writing is something that couldn't have exist otherwise and I want to stand here as someone who inspires you to write who doesn't tell you that you don't get to do things because you weren't born in the United States because you're not from a prestigious family because you don't have a story to tell you have a story to tell you have a way to tell stories that is unique and personal to who you are as an individual your entire lifetime you may think that it doesn't matter because you are young you make you think that doesn't matter because you didn't go to college I'm going to tell you this right now your life right now is the amalgamation of everything that has happened to you and that makes you a unique individual that it's that it's its own person and nobody else can be like you nobody else can write stories like you can and nobody else will ever bring the same stories that you can there's a story out there and it's looking for you and it's one and they wanted to tell it and write it and I hope that if anything this exercise has brought you closer to that story and I want to thank you for watching I think you're spending a little bit of your day with me more than a little bit of your day with me and you enjoyed this video give it a like it actually means a lot and leave your thoughts and ideas please leave in the comments down below my name is M Caron you can find me in this channel subscribe if you enjoy this content I also do writing advice videos three times a week and I do the analysis of storytelling within video game and visual novels I want to thank you for watching again thank you for spending a little bit day with me and be seeing you on the next one you

44 thoughts on “How to Plan a Novel ✐ Complete Workshop

  1. I’m not a novel writer, but I do make comics. I’ve been stumped on planning and plotting my first big comic, and this has been really helpful! Just a bit more writing and I can start drawing! 😊💖

  2. Write as you go? But that's what I've BEEN trying to do! But it ends up so bad…..and so random. It's not professional at all, it makes for a horrible story in my case…..I end up just….making up random unbelievable bs to get them from point a to point b, lots of coincidence and day es macana whatever its called. I lack the ideas….

  3. I sincerely love and appreciate your energy and enthusiasm!

  4. "write them somewhere in big, bold letters" I'll just spray paint GAY on my bedroom wall

  5. I love your happy, energetic manner.

    It makes me listen, and want to see more of your videos.

    PS To me, the circle is the center of all geometry. Remember, we use a compass to create a triangle and most other shapes.

  6. 24 min into the video. I've decided to subscribe. You are very good at being engaging and interesting to listen to. Not only that but the information seems intelligent and well thought out. I am currently CONSIDERING trying my hand at writing a story. I'm currently researching the absolute basics of structure and planning. I do have one question so far. I currently need a free writing application for my Windows 10 tablet. I do not own Microsoft Office and by extension Word. Are there any good free options?

  7. m is the real deal, people. they're amazing. and yep i use this video constantly lmao

  8. Hi Max, First off, I love this video! I have been trying to learn how to write a novel, and this has helped me very much. I did have a few questions though, what writing program do you use? I have been trying to not only learn how to write a novel but to figure out what writing platform I will like best, whether it's with MS word, Scrivener etc. So, I am curious as to what you use for your writing, and what sort of rituals or daily habits/routines do you go through (if any) to sort of help you establish or get into the writing process. Also, I don't have much of a writing process, how would you recommend finding what writing process works for me? What did you do to find the writing process that work's for you? Thanks so much, Max, I have been watching your videos for a while now and every video is filled with knowledge that has helped me significantly!

  9. You are so amazing! I watched you before and this time was even better! You are lovely, and silly and wise and insightful ! Thank you for sharing your joy.

  10. Well, I quite enjoyed it as for awhile I simply forgot about this bloody hot day today and just spend time chatting to my characters while watching your inspiring video so thank you 👍 It exactly answered one of my dilemmas as I’m like reeling that my protagonist is misbehaving right now but honestly he has too otherwise I don’t have a story to tell lol

  11. I usually don't comment on videos, but this video was not only informative it it up lifting and inspiring. After yeas of wanting to write my stories bur feeling lost and confused by everything I have heard and read, I am excited by the idea of writing again. Than you M. kirin. I look forward to watching more of you videos and following you work.

  12. this is incredible helpful and your resemblance to dan had me doing a double-take like whoa

  13. I’m watching this in 2018 and I’m glad I stumbled upon it. I wrote a four book series. One day I sat down and began to write. The story flowed and poured out of me. No planning was necessary. Don’t think I didn’t rewrite scenes in the third and fourth drafts but the initial draft came easy to me. I’m beginning on my fifth book and I’m nervous. I know what I want to write, the characters and some of the events but I was having a hard time piecing it together. It’s a different writing experience for me. This story didn’t flow from me. I am having to plan this one. This video helped me through my ‘stuck’ period. Thank you for posting this. My nerves have calmed.

  14. All it takes sometimes, is just someone else telling you what you're pretty sure you should do already. Thanks.

  15. This is some of the best writing advice I've ever heard, and you make it so relatable and so accessible I just love you for it. Thank you!

  16. i loved this video. very relaxed and efficient outlining plan. you're also so pleasant. you're energy inspired me to get to work. thank you!
    update: been working on a novel for weeks and got stuck. this video helped piece my entire story together. i know my beginning middle and end. thank you so much!!!🙏🏿

  17. Me at beginning: Hey I kinda like this guy

    Me Throughout:

    2: Anyone have a spare imagination they want to give me?

    3: Is it bad that I want to be a writer and don't know how to spell ingredients? <I spelled it with an a…

    4: Ooh found a good plot twist! Oh wait.. that's legit everything that happened in star wars. gosh dang it.

    5: You think one could write an entire book over summer break?

    Me at end: Wow. I enjoyed your openness and willingness to share your ideas and experiences.

    Conclusion: I think everyone who wants to be a writer, should watch this video. this is great. this was great. keep it up m. kirin.

  18. Thank you so much for this planning!!!! I really needed this!! I’m writing a book with my best friend and we were planning it together! Thanks so much

  19. The number of times I find myself returning to this video is amazing. I use it for new ideas and when I find myself stuck later down the line I come right back to it!

    I've even suggested it to many of the members in my writer's group on facebook!!

  20. This is fantastic. I find writing is a journey of discovery. I write and delete, write and delete. It takes ages and a whole lot of work but..
    What I end up with is so much more interesting than the original plan.

  21. Hello Max.  I watched this video and cried in happiness.  I went to a four year university where I entered full of confidence and left shattered, due to wanting the praise of English professors who were not writers.   I am going to watch all your videos and buy your books.    You are a hero of mine, Max.   I wish I were like you and perhaps could have been, had I obtained more confidence 26 years ago.  My memories of college aren't as tarnished now.  The resentment is fading as I watch and listen to your video.    I smiled all day today and will smile tomorrow, all because of you.    I want to thank more people like yourself Max and if you read similar comments to other writers, I'm writing to you first.    By helping other writers as you do Max, you are helping humanity and likewise, the world we live in.      Best Wishes!  John.

  22. Found you on Ko-Fi while setting up my new account and looking for fellow YouTubers to check out. Hello!

  23. I love your accent!! <3 You're a beautiful human. Thank you for helping us to write better.

  24. This is the first time ever that I've felt like being creative with my writing, thanks for starting that process!

  25. I stumbled across this video as I was imagining what it would be like to start writing again… If it was even possible for me to write with where I am in life. thank you for making this, thank you for being inspiring, and thank you for being adorable and uplifting. It is exactly what I needed.

  26. Oh my god. That fan that popped out of nowhere thoo. I love love love this. Thank youuuu so much for this in-depth analysis on how to finally finalize a novel. Ive been trying to write a steam punk novel since I was 14. I'm 23 today and it's still not complete. 40 000 words in, most of it is crap since I wrote them when I was so much younger and looking back on it makes me cringe so much. I think I'll head back to "the writing desk" (aka laptop) because you've just inspired me so much.

  27. I'm watching this video in 2017 and, M. KIRIN, you're seem to be an adorable person.

  28. Ahhh, I’ve been looking for you and this video for forever! I’m so glad I found you again; this is such a good video!

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