Eating the Elephant: Book Plan

Question: ‘How do you eat an elephant?’

Answer: ‘One bite at a time.’

New projects can be like this. Huge, Grey and Shadowy,

the illusion of being in a mist. Mulling around in that confused head space is


I am embarking on a new project, that leap into the unknown that I alluded to in last week’s blog. A new book. A new challenge. Methodical by nature, I find structure keeps me on track. Shamelessly, I admit that I like lists. They provide a point of reference and also reinforce achievement.


Ticking off the tasks, scrunching the paper and throwing it in the recycling bin is to me, almost as good as a Mars Bar. Almost!

A book is like painting a room. If I’d never painted before, I might spend some time watching YouTube videos, the kind that convince me it is easy.


In writing, research is imperative. To create a foundation for your work, the setting needs to be believable. Especially fantasy needs to be carefully constructed so the reader can be there in your shared reality with your characters and their quest.

Now things become more detailed, a layering of thought. I investigate the time period. How does it differ from today? I look at the setting/s, at place. A rich setting is gold; I love it when reading. It takes me there in my head, I can see the movie of the book unfold in my imagination, led gently by the author’s skill in story telling.


Then I begin to consider the story. In my case writing memoir and biography, I need to roughly plan the story.

Linear/ non linear

Moving forward/ reflective

Prologue and hook

Classic plot scenarios or your own

  • Overcoming the monster
  • Rags to riches
  • The quest
  • Voyage and return
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy
  • Rebirth

Epilogue and wrap

The thread that universal truth that touches the heart of the reader


A4 paper is useful or if you have big flowery writing and a lot to say, butcher’s paper. I fold it rule it up, prologue to the end. I put down the basic ideas (drop points) and make a list of important characters on a separate page.

The character list is an exercise in evolution, only the toughest survive.

If they don’t add value propelling the story forward, they miss the cut. Its hard work being a character. The unemployment rate is high. Flat characters though often removed might find a niche, adding value to a scene.

From here, it’s up to you, maybe

  • add colour
  • more pages
  • include arrows,
  • write all over it, to the point you can’t read it anymore
  • rewrite it
  • buy more highlighters etc.

I’m not a hoarder but in this case don’t throw that mangy, dog-eared first plan out until you have clarity. I hope this process might get you writing your unique story through your eyes and your words.

Kindly share your experiences?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s