But in order to do this thing, I need to take the whole planning part a little more seriously. Every author works differently - I have come to love Excel and the ability to create multiple spreadsheets in one document. I know some people swear by Scrivener, but that has never worked for me so I'm staying old school. I'm also writing fantasy, which makes keeping track of the world, cultures, languages, and different magic systems laborious enough never mind actually working out the plot and character arcs.
I have spent October building my spreadsheets. These are the individual tabs I have all in one planning document:
1) Plot - including a 7-point plot structure, a synopsis, notes for future scenes and a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the chapters I've already worked out. The rest is all broadstrokes at this point and subject to change, but I have a very good idea of where the story is going and how I need to get there.
2) Characters - more than just physical descriptions and personality traits, this tab also includes the details of the protagonists' character arcs and how these match with the plot points.
3) Magic - including all the defining characteristics of the different systems, and how these manifest culturally such as style of dress or what's held sacred. This also ties in with the religions of my world.
4) Languages - since our thoughts are very much dictated by the language we speak, the vagaries of my fantasy languages highly influence the voice of the my POV characters and this is where I keep tabs on that.
5) Geography, flora and fauna - self-explanatory really and a tab I know I'll use a lot once I get into writing and need to describe the setting.
For now, those are the five tabs I'm working on. I might need to add to them as my story world develops though. I can see myself needing to create a Politics or Trade & Commerce tab, but for now my focus is on getting character arcs to match up with plot, and make sure I've got the bones of a good story before I start writing in earnest come November.
As a previous pantser, I'm finding plotting time-consuming and extremely taxing, but it's definitely worth it. When I eventually start to write, I won't need to keep stopping to research my world, it'll be all there for me in my spreadsheet.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? How do you prepare before starting to write?