Benefits of Using a Content Planner for Your Novel


 Contributed by Christina Queen

Raise your hand if your writing is unorganized!

Sometimes unorganized writing happens, and that is ok. The good news is you can learn from it, don’t worry, I have a plan.
I began my novel, please don’t judge, a few years ago, and I’m still working on it. The sad part is that I have it finished in my head, but I can’t submit my thoughts.
A couple of months ago, I realized I needed to do something. I needed to create a plan.
During my day job, I am a freelance writer, and of course, like any writer, I contribute to my blog.
I have a content calendar and planning guide to keep me organized and on top of what I need to do.
Which got me thinking.
Why do I not have a content planning calendar for my novel?
After mentally slapping myself, I immediately went to the interwebs and tried to research this. After all, my job is to research, but I found nothing: Nit, rein, zero. I found template after template that I could download for nine different things, such as character profiles, story planners, etc.
This inspired me, the self-proclaimed queen of researching and spreadsheets, to create a spreadsheet for my novel.
And guess what?
I am now two weeks away from finishing my novel.
What the heck did I include in that novel content planner?
1.     Goals
My very first page was to outline my goals. I needed my goals in a place where I could see them daily and hold myself accountable.
There are no unique formulas for this page, so don’t flip out! I only created two columns, one for the title and topic and the other for a short description of my goals.
2.     Weekly Planner
Now what kind of newly founded organized writer would I be if I didn’t have a weekly planner. While this may seem much, the weekly planner holds me accountable for my tasks. For instance, I plan out time for my Mind Mapping, planning ideas for each scene or chapter. I block out specific times for this to feel relaxed and not stressed about finding the time or completing other things.
3.     Story Structure
This tab is a little more detailed. But this is the fun, creative part! Here are the questions I include that help me to put the plot together.
•      A plot point is the worst thing to happen to the story and characters. Your characters’ desires, loves, and fears should drive and dictate your plot.
•      What does your character want the most, and why can’t they have it? What is the external goal of the character?
•      Who/what do they love most? What do they have to lose?
•      What is their fatal character flaw?
•      Ally?
•      What are they afraid of?
•      What is the best thing that could happen to them?
•      Relative to the answers above, what is the worst thing that could happen?
•      Ending
When I mapped out my story like this, I organically discovered the antagonist and enemy. The book practically built itself-ok that may be stretching the truth a little.
4.     Character cheat sheets and backstories.
I love love this part of writing. I love creating backstories and building a character. Having all this in a spreadsheet makes it convenient and helps me see what I need to call upon instantly and not dig through my memory.
The best part of having this spreadsheet “workbook” is the ease of having everything in one place, ready for me to reference.
But the other best reason I feel these spreadsheets are helpful is they give me the organization and efficient time management I desperately needed to get this monster of a novel out.

Christina is the Friends-obsessed creative behind Christina Q Writes. As a full-time freelance writer, she helps clients in need of fantastic content. Christina Q Writes is where she shares tips and advice on freelance writing, blogging, and creative entrepreneurship to help people just like you pursue your dreams of working from home!
LinkedIn: Christina-Queen-Writes


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Karen Cioffi said...

Christina, thanks so much for these tips on organizing our writing with a content planning calendar. I use a daily planner for everything, including what I need to to with my writing and marketing. I'd be lost without it.

Unknown said...

I do as well! There is just so much to keep track of, and when you have a plan, it makes organising yourself easier.

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks for stopping by, Unknown. Yes, organization is an must!

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