A Mountain Plan for Serenity

I am struggling. A lot. I really really desperately want to write this book. My first real attempt at writing a full on novel. In fact I am actually struggling to write this post about it. I haven’t progressed much lately with it, I seem to be stuck. The reason for this?

I have no freaking clue how on earth to write a book.

There we go. I said it. Out loud. I have no bloody idea how to write a book. I haven’t planned ahead, prepared, nothing. I just done what I always do and jump feet first blinded by sheer enthusiasm and stupidity. I tell you there’s just no helping some people (some people being me). What on earth did I expect, the words would flow out of my brain and out through my fingers adorning the page with their fabulousness in exactly the right place? A case of writers block accompanied by dramatic background music and solved by a girlie chat/heartfelt confidence boost and a vat of coffee.  Et Voila there you have a full completed book just like that! Life ain’t no movie and neither will Serenity ( ha, I wish) be if I don’t get my act together.

But then today I had a little chat with Olivia about what she was doing in school. She told me she was planning her story again. PLANNING. Something I have so far failed to do. For the SECOND day. Meaning the had already planned once before and had come back to it. 2 days of planning. Well not all day for her but considering I was attempting to do this the hard way she already seemed to be miles ahead and then………..then came the light bulb moment.

Her teacher had them doing what I described as a mountain planner. All children received a piece of paper with a mountain on it in the middle of the page. In each of the corners was a box. These boxes helped them give structure to their stories. Whereas I have a foundation built on crumbs.

Starting in the bottom left hand corner you have Opening. The top left hand corner is Build Up. Over mountain and in the top right corner is Climax/Problem. Leaving the bottom right for Resolution. You climb the mountain to build your story then descend the mountain to wrap it all up. Simple right!

a mountain plan for serenity

Taking the lead from Olivia we had a little chat about what exactly I need to think about to get this book up and running. There are some questions I need to ask myself and answer in order to figure this out. Do I know the answers to them or do I need to put a lot more planning in place before attempting to even think about carrying on? What is point in writing if you have no clear direction aside from heading down a one way street to Rejectsville. So lets start at the beginning.

Opening. How am I opening the story? What first impression do I want to give my readers? Is it opening slowly and building the backstory or jumping headlong into action leaving the reader desperate to catch up? Should I have a prologue, especially given the theme (you can read my flash fiction piece that started this all off here).

Build Up. How am I going to lead up to and into the story? Is there going to be an event that will need building up to? Will I be giving all of the details away so the reader is completely aware of what is going on? Or is it better to keep twists and turns in to enthrall the reader? How is it going to be approached and who is going to be involved?

Climax/Problem. This is where I get into the juicy part of the story. What is the climax or issue? Do I want to have one major one or is my character fighting through many set backs? How does this tie into the main character and how do I want her involved it?

Resolution. Is there going to be a happy ever after? Will the ending tie up all loose ends or set the scene for a sequel or even prequel? What will happen to Serenity in the end?

These are some of the things I need to think about and get some answers for before I take this any further. I have around 2 chapters and a prequel written down however there hasn’t been much of a thought process behind it just a mish mash of ideas. Whilst this may be good for brainstorming and getting some ideas down on paper, without clear direction this book may end up sailing into the sunset to be sunk without a trace!

Do you have any ideas and/or tips for me? Have you published a book before? I would love hear any thoughts on this and all advice appreciated 🙂

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  1. AH this is great, don’t you love it when the kids come home and manage to totally inspire you or solve the answers to your problems without even realise what a great help they have been? I have never been a great planner – I don’t plan my posts, more of a fly by the seat of my pants kind of a writer but pretty sure should I attempt to write a book this would not be helpful! Hope you have started your own plan now and look forward to hearing that the book is making some progress #kcacols

  2. I absolutely adore this!! And can, very sadly, relate to a foundation built on crumbs (great metaphor, btw). I think your daughter’s mountain planning technique is fantastic and I will apply to my own (in a box for now) novel when I return to it. I think planning, to a certain extent, is necessary, as long as flexibility is always allowed. That’s why I was always outline averse, because I wanted to be able to go my own way, but I think we can incorporate both, so our foundation has a more solid base. Good luck!

  3. I am not yet published, but so far I’ve written two books. The first was a mish mash of great ideas which I’ve formed into a story, but now I see there are some fatal flaws in the very world of the story and that there are lots of bits of filler. I am taking it to pieces and putting it back again. That’s OK. The words are there, and they’re the clay I’m going to use to build my statuesque book. But it is a little overwhelming which is why I went and wrote another book…

    That one was pre-planned for me, because it’s based on a narrative poem. So I just had to work out what my characters looked like, acted like etc, and bring the story up to the modern day. There are still a few issues with the story (there’s a kiss that happens out of place for instance), which I’m in the process of ironing out, but it’s not the unholy mess of the first one.

    I quite liked the Snowflake method for thinking about the first book, after I’d written it, but before would have been even better! I don’t think I’d stick to any method rigidly, but it’s a good place to start. I also write down lots of stuff that’ll never get on the page, like what the characters favourite things are, what they think of each other (but might never say). What they are thinking might happen in their lives etc.

    Hope that helps. Hope it goes well.

  4. I like the idea of this mountain planner! I’m not much of a planner myself which is why I veer towards picture books and shortstories/flash fiction. That said, some planning goes into that too, but not in the way required for a novel – that needs serious stamina! Once you have a plan I’m sure you’ll be on your way. I think writing a first novel is such a huge learning curve that you just have to dive into it as best you can and see how it goes! Thanks for linking to #whatImWriting. xx

  5. My children have told me about how they use the mountain planner at school, very cool! I’m really pleased that they are encouraged to plan, then do first and second draughts, it makes perfect sense. Your version in this post will be your springboard! Good luck #whatimwriting

  6. Hello! Have you heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month?) It’s a global challenge every November, but they run forums and events throughout the year on social networks, where you can chat to other writers, learn about process and planning, and all that other stuff that you want to find. I have used it to write my last 3 novels, and one of those is launching this week, The Vampire of Blackpool 😉


  7. I love to write, but am not sure I will ever make a novelist. Like you, I tend to jump straight in when it comes to writing blogs, I get an idea and go with it and don’t look back. I definitely need to plan what I am going to write about more.
    Good luck with the book.

  8. What a brilliant plan for such a daunting task! I’ve had a couple of ideas for books but like you, felt I had no idea where to start! Don’t pressure yourself too much – it will flow as and when it’s meant to, and I for one can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday xx

  9. It sounds like you have a plan now. I tend to just throw myself into my writing, I get these ideas and then I just throw myself headlong into them because I almost cannot not write it. The key I think is having space to think out the ideas and I use my commute to work for that – an hour and a half three times a week of thinking space. I often write my poems, for example, in my head on the way to work and then I frantically write it down at the office! I’m worst at editing because I’m not a Completer Finisher and I may get someone to help me with that at some point. Good luck with your writing – for me it’s a huge pleasure and the bane of my life too 😉 #KCACOLS