When it comes to planning, I start with a brainstorm of characters and ideas. I then divide up my story into a beginning, middle and end, and start to slot things into place. This involves subdividing each section into a number of chapters. The end result is a big, messy document.
I then set about reducing each chapter to a single sentence. What is the point of each one? Is every character transformed by the story for better or worse? Finally, I’ll have a one page roadmap that shows me exactly what’s going to happen.
I’m quite happy to deviate from this as I write, if I come up with a better or more challenging storyline, but it means I can always come back so that I reach the end – ultimately, this is what you want to achieve. A first draft. It won’t be pretty, but that’s what the second draft is for, and where the fun begins.
Matt Whyman’s is the author of young adult fiction and adult non-fiction. His latest book, Walking with Sausage Dogs, is published by Hodder & Stoughton.