To make sure I have enough to write during this Novembers National Novel Writing Month, I'm starting the planning now! I'm taking Holly Lisle's "How To Think Sideways" writing course, and I'm learning a lot. So much so, that taking a look at the planning notes I had for the sequel book to "The String Weavers" (last year's NaNoWriMo winner) I realized there were some serious plot problems. So much so that the majority of what I had planned has now been thrown out.
Two things from the course have really helped. The first is a kind of mind mapping. I knew the basic premise I still wanted the book to have. Mind mapping helped me brainstorm new ideas, locations and plot points.
The second help has been with the scenes. Taking the new plot ideas, I've been coming up with new scenes and writing them out with what Holly calls "the Sentence Light". This sentence should include a character, what they 'need', the location, the forces opposing them and the 'twist'. This helps make sure each scene has characters, conflict, setting and a reason it should be in the novel in the first place (as in, it moves it forward). I don't want any 'fluff' scenes that do nothing but sit there and look pretty! If you're going to be on this ship, you better be prepared to work!
Now the plot is coming together little by little, and it's a lot tighter. The book will definitely be stronger for the effort. This process will probably take a few more weeks to tweak, but I feel good about the direction the book is now taking.