Preliminary Planning for a New Novel

Novelist Len Deighton has an article in the Word Craft section of the Wall Street Journal online. It came at an opportune time.

Lying in the tanning bed this morning, I was meditating and praying about what my next writing project should be. When I arrived home, smelling a bit toasted, I sat down to check Facebook and saw that book reviewer extraordinnaire, Curt Jarrell, had posted a link to Deighton’s article. Thank you, Curt. I don’t mind starting a new project with a little direction from the Universe—and a friend.

“Facing the Hard Questions Before Chapter One” is an overview of Deighton’s planning process for writing a novel. It’s fairly general, but it’s always good to understand a writer’s approach to starting a new book. He makes an important point that I’d like to quote here:

I always have a “consideration period” during which I ask myself if I can live for a year or more with a book, its subject and perhaps its characters. Several projects did not survive this initial test.

This is something I need to consider. I hope to post more about my planning process in the coming months. I don’t want to give anything away, but perhaps it will prove helpful to you to see how a shophomore writer gets into and develops a new project.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you about how you get from the idea stage to practical planning.

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