Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Prep for a Book, Step 1: Purpose

This week is dedicated to preparing your novel before you start it, or “plotting.” The first step: outline your purpose.

For those of you who have started books before, remember that light bulb moment when you first have an idea? It feels like swallowing sunshine. Life is happier, there’s a skip in your step, food tastes better, and that idea is the only thing you can think about.

Somewhere along the line, we lose that feeling, don’t we? It’s easy to forget why we love our books.

Behind all books is a goal. It can be to inform, to inspire, or to entertain. As the writing develops, the goal can change along with the story. Sometimes it gets better. Sometimes it gets lost, and then you get lost.

Before I start a book, I like to write what I want it to accomplish. I’ll just type and type about my book without thinking until I have nothing more to say. Doing this helps me focus on my idea before I begin, and reading it later keeps me focused throughout the process.

I read over my Purpose Sheet for Sacred Fire not too long ago, and I was shocked. The story I planned on writing was very different from the one I actually wrote. I like what I ended up with much better, but I had some good ideas I completely forgot about.

You can change your purpose sheet as your book evolves, because your book will surely take different directions than what you intended originally, which is a good thing. Just be sure to keep your original draft; it’ll be fun to read once the book is done.


  1. Interesting idea! I never thought of doing this before.

  2. swallowing sunshine, love the phrase!


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