Planning Novels

Living out in the country with no cellphone or internet and lots of quiet makes planning novels easier as there are fewer distractions. Even during times when I’m doing chores, I have time to think about my idea, evaluate it, find the plot line, visualize setting and other important preparations.

Rural living suggests ideas as does the radio news. For over a year the pandemic has dominated the news with its lockdowns and distance learning and isolation.

Storms are another big part of the news. These occur here and have increased in size over the past few years.

Ozark creek in flood
Would you try to walk out or drive across this creek? What would make you want to? Would an even bigger flood make a difference in your decisions? Such questions are part of planning a novel involving a flood.

My premise has having a large hurricane move inland gradually degrading into a tropical depression that stalls out over the Ozarks bringing huge amounts of rain. What would my valley look like with ten or more inches of rain? We got a taste of this a few years ago when a deracho came through with wind bursts and massive downpour downing trees and turning the road into a raging river.

A woman homesteader whose truck driver husband is away is stranded by the storm. The phone goes out. The electricity goes out. The road is impassible first due to flooding, then due to downed trees and washed out roadbed. She is on her own for two weeks.

Planning novels may begin with a premise, but then there are the details. First with this is the timeline. There is a time before the storm arrives, the storm and its aftermath. What happens during each of these periods?

personal experiences influence planning novels
After a big rainstorm with its accompanying flood, gravel roads can be washed out. That hole is almost two feet deep making it impossible to drive past it. One night people came to the house as their station wagon was submerged to the floor boards further back the other way after a different storm. Such times will influence my planned novel.

She is human and can only do so much in any given amount of time. Much as she may wish to be superwoman, she isn’t.

The real crux of the story isn’t dealing with the storm itself while continuing to do chores etc. The real crux is how this isolation affects her and her decisions about her life, the turns and choices she is facing even before the storm.

Some writers outline all of this out in detail. Other writers just start writing. My novel planning is in between. So I’m developing a rough timeline and the layout of the homestead plus a list of possible thing going on. Writing begins next week.