* I use a working title, but throughout the period I am writing I list options for the end-product. I might be out in the garden, shopping, or at work, but ideas come to mind at the strangest times.
My New Thriller (working title)
* I decide on a Point of View for the tale, and whether or not it might change during the telling. This is an area that is best decided early, but can still be changed once the writing is underway – as long as it is checked thoroughly after any amendments.
* I write a synopsis – the more detailed the better, because it’s only for my use.
An opening scene:
A guy wakes up in a hotel room with a throbbing headache.
He realises he’s holding a gun and it’s fitted with a suppressor.
There is a dead woman on the floor beside him and the room has been trashed.
The first chapter:
The whole chapter is based on the man working out the background.
Small snippets of recollection are coming back to him.
First chapter ends with him staring at a newspaper stand.
The dead woman has been found and she’s a police detective.
* Even a first chapter can inspire amendments to the original idea for the story.
* I make a simple timeline, whether it is set as days, months, years or whatever. I’ve found that a timeline combined with a synopsis is a real asset from beginning to end.
* I make a basic Cast of Characters which may sound obvious, but I keep it handy:
It will help avoid the duplication of names or similar sounding names (unless related).
It will also help to remind if a character appears once for no good reason – so at some stage I get rid. This comes under the heading of ‘Killing your Darlings’. Okay, the character may have been a beautiful woman, or a loveable rogue, but if they don’t help the story move forward, they get placed in the ‘Characters for future use’ file.
* Characters will all have a profile built for them.
I list every detail of main characters as if they were real. I’m not intending to use everything, but I must know everything. Physical description, favourite foods, loves, fears, type of car used, favourite weapon, education, family background and much more.
Minor characters have an abbreviated version – enough to make them real.