Whether you’re a hardcore planner or you like to leave some things up to chance; you will probably want to do a bit of prep work before you begin. Going into this with no planning whatsoever is an option but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s a bit like traveling to a place you’ve never been without even looking at a map. So before you throw yourself into the deep end let’s get the bare bones together.
Plot out your story line in chronological order. Get this done so you have a base to work from. Make sure you include all your major plot points. I like to keep a stack of sticky notes next to my outline to add additional information as it comes to me. Always writes ideas down as they come to; I can guarantee you won’t remember them an hour from now.
The driving force of your novel is the characters you create. Get as detailed as you want; the more you know about your characters the better you can write them. Find out their strengths, their weaknesses, their motivation. Think about how your characters relate to each other. Who are BFFs? Who are enemies?
Depending on the genre you’ve chosen you may have to draw a map. But if you’re setting things in our reality your task will be simpler. Compile a list of the locations in which your scenes take place. This will act as a reference. Give each location a description and go into detail for the areas most frequently visited. Take this opportunity to use the surrounds to reflect a character’s state of mind.
Once you’ve woven these together you can flesh out your outline. At this point you can work out the pacing of your story; you want to build to the climax whilst keeping the reader hooked. And if you have any subplots this the perfect time to integrate them into the main story line. Make sure your story has a beginning, a middle and an end and that each section has an event that drives the story forward.
This is a very simplified guide to prepping to write a novel. The more time you give yourself and the more in depth you get the better. Remember the outline is just a guide to keep you on track with your original plan. Never feel like you have to stick to it, don’t let it suffocate your creativity. You can add to it, change or through the whole damn thing out as you please; only you will know about it. It’s just a good idea to have one to start with and have a record of your thoughts.