Breaking a novel up into manageable tasks

difficult task

One of the difficult aspects of finishing a novel is that the project can seem so overwhelming you may not know where to begin. However, using the tips below, you can break your novel down into tasks that are manageable.

First, decide when you want to finish your first draft. Next, break your novel down by word count, pages or chapters depending on which unit you find easiest to track and most motivating. How many word, pages or chapters do you need to write each week and each day of that week to reach your deadline?

You can also break the planning of your novel into manageable chunks. How detailed you want to be will depend on how much of a planner you are. Even if you prefer to avoid outlining and want to discover your story as you are writing it, it can be helpful to know how you want your story to end. Your next step in breaking your book into manageable chunks might be writing a beginning and an end.

At this stage, if you want to outline more, you can do so chapter by chapter or in another way that makes sense to you for breaking your book down into units. You may want to write just a sentence or two for each chapter, or you may want to break each chapter down into scenes.

If you are not the type of writer to plan ahead, doing an outline like this after you have finished your first draft can help you to harness your novel into a more manageable form as well. You can make a detailed outline, and at the end of each scene, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this scene?
  • Does this scene do more than one thing? Generally, it is a good idea to give a scene multiple jobs to do.
  • What does the reader learn from this scene? What questions are answered?
  • What questions are raised in this scene?
  • What in this scene would make the reader want to continue reading the novel?

As you are planning your novel, you can also make your character development more manageable. You might start by writing your protagonist’s name in the centre of a piece of paper. Then, think about who the antagonist is as well as the protagonist’s closest allies. Connect these other characters to your protagonist, and then consider how you will flesh them out. Begin with the antagonist and others who are most important to your character.

What techniques have you used to break your novel down so that it is more manageable?

(image from here)

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