Brainstorming is when you write down all the ideas that come to mind.
- I’ll usually write down the premise (or a very raw version of the premise) when I start.
- I’d also write down some scenes as they come to mind (again, really raw versions)
- I’d then write down some names as they come to mind. I’d change them later as the story progresses.
- Lastly, I’d write down the genre, or any possible genre that the story could fit into.
This is in no particular order. The idea is to write down whatever comes to mind.
Outlining is when you plan out your story.
- I’d piece together a sequence of events. This could change up as I continue to outline.
- I’d then list conflicts and stakes. It is important to raise the stakes for the main and major character(s) at the end of each chapter or act, which brings me to my next point….
- I use a Three Act Structure when I write a story. Basically, it’s the beginning, middle and end of the story. I use act one to introduce my characters, conflicts and some of the world (you don’t want to dump too much information at once. Just introduce what is needed for the chapter or scene). Act two is for rising actions (raising the stakes and creating more and more conflicts. Basically Act two is the powder keg that’ll explode in Act three). Act three is for the climax – explosion of the powder keg -, falling actions (tying up loose ends) and the conclusion. The Three Act Structure helps me organize my chapters and scenes into the places that they fit. Count on another blog post about Three Act Structures in the future.
My outlines evolve as I world build and create characters. I may also create multiple drafts of an outline. The first one would be a sequence of events and a list of conflicts and stakes, The last one would be chapter by chapter outlines. Planning out the story can take a long time for me, so I may change my outlining system as I go.
Worldbuilding is basically what it sounds like: building worlds. If you’re writing fantasy, this part may take a while. If you’re writing a contemporary, realistic fiction or a fantasy set in a real place, it may not take you as long to build your world.
- I would write down the climate that I picture in my head. I’d then do some research on some places that may have the same or a similar climate as my world has.
- I’d also think of any seasonal changes – if any – that my characters may go through as the story progresses.
- Next is the people. This is where I think of language, traditions, cultures, politics, etc. There is a lot to think about, but I usually outline before I world build. This keeps me from getting too overwhelmed while world building. I only have to build as much as needed for the story. No more, no less.
This, – much like brainstorming – is in no particular order.
- Depending on where they come from in the world created, I’d give them names that is significant to where they live. For example, there is a country in my Dragon story that is inspired by Celtic and Norse culture, so I’ve googled Celtic and Norse names and even bought a book of Celtic names for babies. When in doubt, go for the book of baby names!
- I’d then create a list of questions that I need to answer for my characters such as where they’re from, what are their morals and values, are they human or another species, etc. Having the outline done before this step helps me create characters that will push the story along instead of having me get frustrated and having them act out of character, pun intended.
- I’d also google pictures of actors or models to help me with physical descriptions. Sometimes I’d take different features from multiple models and actors to create my characters.
If I’m still outlining while I’m creating characters, I’d add or subtract some characters from the story as the outline evolves.
Tadaa! This is my everchanging story prep. What do you do to prep for a story? Tell me down in the comments!