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Planning a Novel in Ten Steps - Part Two

Step 6 – Back to the plot

As before, go back to the one-page plot summary completed for Step 4 and do the same – fleshing out the main plot line and any sub-plots and flash backs and including more detail to create a four-page synopsis.

Step 7 – Bringing characters to life

The one-page character synopsis can now be expanded into fully fledged character charts including the minutiae of their lives, such as:

  • birth dates
  • description i.e. hair colour, height, weight etc
  • likes and dislikes
  • history
  • hobbies
  • work


But, most importantly, you should decide how the character will change throughout the story. This teaches you more about your characters and the role they have to play in the story. Make sure each is a living, breathing character, not a two dimensional sterotype.

Step 8 – Setting the scenes

Starting with your four-page synopsis from Step 6 and write down all the scenes you need to turn it into a novel. Each scene should detail:

  • what happens
  • which characters point-of-view the scene is being told from
  • conflict/tension points and hooks that will drag the reader from chapter to chapter


As with most aspects of the novel at this stage, it's moveable and gives you a really good insight into how the story moves along. You can easily see if it has a good flow and where changes need to be made.

Step 9 – Writing your novel

Now, the hard part starts – writing the novel! You should be able to get through this draft pretty quickly as there'll be no wondering what comes next or who does what – all this has already been decided.

Step 10 – Edit and re-draft!

Don't expect your novel to be perfect after the first draft – it won't be. That's why you should now put it to one side for a week or two, then go back to it and start editing and redrafting. Keep doing this until you are completely happy with it. It might, and often does, take several attempts to get it right, so don't give up if you think it's not working.

And finally, make sure you enjoy the process. Writing a novel is usually the biggest project most people have ever attempted so it'll be so much better if you actually get pleasure from doing it.

How to write a novel to suit your audience, with our structured novel writing course


Back to planning a novel



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Lizbeth Crawford"My debut novel, Hate To Love You, by Elise Alden (my pen name for contemporary and historical romance), received three offers of publication. I went with Harlequin Carina Press.

"So, thank you Writers Bureau, to which I am extremely grateful. The Novel and Short Story course gave me the tools I needed to write my first novel."

Lizbeth Crawford

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