Whatever your project, you need to plan for it. Think of it as planning a trip. To do that, you will need to know what your ultimate goal is. That’s the tagline. For this blog, the tagline is to plan a writing project, you need a number of steps. OK, that’s not great, but this blog isn’t fiction. The tagline is like saying where you want to go on a trip and what you want to do, in as few words as you can. It’s a summary. I’m going to London to see the sites would suffice, but doesn’t really say much. I’m going to London to see Buckingham Palace, Nelson’s column, the British Museum and the National Library. It’s detailed and short. It gives you an idea of what you plan to do.
Next, you need characters. There are a number of charts online that will let you create your characters. Then you need a plot. Not everyone agrees that you need an outline. I use a broad outline that lets me plan where the story beats go. I use a beat sheet for that. I write to it, for the most part. Some people plan their writing route to the minutest detail. I prefer a broader approach, myself. It gives me direction and reminds me of where I’m going. Basically it’s like our trip to London. Day one, explore Buckingham Palace. Obviously I won’t be spending the entire day there, but it gives me an idea of what I want to do. The rest is extra. I can remain flexible while still hitting the points I want.
Next, you may need to create a fictional world. This is true no matter where you set your piece. This is especially important if you are creating an entire world, for science fiction or fantasy. If you are not, and you are using the real world as your setting, you may still need fictional shops, homes and yes, even towns. If you want to put your action in such places, you need to know them well. Draw a map. It will help you to stay oriented. No one else needs to see your map, unless you have a writing partner. Know where your characters live. I have a collection of floor plans for houses, apartments, townhouses and condos. I use them to map the action within a house. It keeps things straight in my head. These are reference materials.
Leave room for non-speaking roles. I call these roles, extras. In movies they have people to stand around and pretend to be crowds, armies, whatever is needed. These characters don’t speak, but need to be there. They are the store clerks, waitresses and others who would people a town without adding to the action. They are there to add realism to the story. I don’t know the traffic where you live, but where I live there’s always at least one car on the road. Unless your story takes place in an empty land, you need to at least see other people around. A little planning will make the writing easier.