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Novel Building

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How do you construct your novel? I've been thinking about this more and more lately because I'm currently working on my third novel for my series. When Realms/Charisma bought the Ravensmoore Chronicles I had the first book in the series complete and I knew a bit about the other two but not that much. Of course when my first editor got hold of the novel she cut 26,000 words and I rebuilt and rewrote my book.

When I wrote the second novel, Chameleon, I decided to test my skills at novel building. I'm a pantser at heart. I don't know how to follow an outline and I don't enjoy the outline process. I wrote my second book by completing scenes in a a very loose format. In other words, it was nowhere near linear. However, when it came time to put this book in sequence I had a multitude of problems. Looking back, I think it was my timeline. It was not well defined and I paid the price for this in having to figure out how everything would fit and where it would fit. Chameleon is done and in my humble opinion it's going to blow your mind if others can refrain from telling you how it ends. My second editor had a lot to do with getting me and my novel grounded.

In the January 2012 Writer's Digest article, Zachary Petit interviews Diana Gabaldon. If you don't know who she is I suggest you order her first novel, Outlander. Gabaldon's books are huge in number of pages and huge in story. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that she's a pantser, yet I couldn't figure out how she writes such complicated books without an outline. She's got a method, and you'll have to check out the article for the details, but somehow she's able to keep track of everything including her timeline. She must have super powers, really!   

So I'm wondering what forms of timelines do you use? Do you complete your timeline while you plot? After the novels done? What's the method to your madness? I found this Creating a Timeline and am thinking of trying it out. Got any other great sites or ideas?


  1. I'm far from a pantser. I plan. I even plan my next novel while working on my current. I work it all out - storyline, characters, etc - and it builds excitement for me so that I can't wait to start it. Then when I do, I know where I'm going. It's not a strict outline. I often find myself diverting if the story takes me there, but this solves issues with timelines for me.

  2. I'm in awe of your ability to plan the way you do. I'd be happy to find a good middle ground and am continuing to seek that. Thanks for sharing your strategy. Happy Thanksgiving. Jill