How to plan a novel in 21 days, published in 2 (yes that’s a two)

This sucker’s big. It is a condensation of the first three sections of the 3by3 writing method.
I believe that planning the book can be done in three weeks. Creating a complete outline of the plot, balancing characters, creating sustained external and internal conflict will leave you with plenty of writing to accomplish. This plan will also help avoid writers block due to “what’s next?”
One thing must be done before the plot plan is begun if this is to work – a specific time and place has to be dedicated to daily writing. A novel is a marathon, a mountain to climb, a daunting task that requires discipline, dedication and organization. It is not written on the back of a napkin or pounded out during a drunken weekend in Palm Springs.
This plan will involve filling out forms. If you fill in the blanks, a book will form.
Keep in mind that conflict is the basis of all interesting stories. It does not matter if it’s Harry Potter, the Great Gatsby, or Romeo and Juliet, conflict drives plot and results in readers turning pages (and recommending your work to others).

Day 1 – 3
Theme. Why three days for a theme? Because it takes that long to determine your message. This one sentence statement will run throughout your book. In many cases, as your continue with your plan you will see a new theme emerge. This will happen because the artist may be in control of their words, but the subconscious (the muse, “lightning struck”, “came in a dream”, “I had this idea”, etc.)Is in control of creativity.
For themes I like – “Artists cause pain and suffering to those around them, but not themselves.”
Then there’s “Love eases all pain, even to those left behind by death or separation.” Or “Parents suck even when they try hard.” “Men will always cheat.” “Women are saints.” You make one up. Type it out and it goes in your header on your word processor. This is your temp title.

Day 4-7
Grab a main character. I mean grab him. Shake him up. What’s inside that guy? Do you really know his basic shape size, desires, and dreams? Note them down.
Here come the forms – if you know your story, this will be so easy it will be a breeze. If not, answering will force you to make choices and then you can start to write.
My main character is _____ years old.
My main character and is a _____________. (Occupation)
At the beginning of the story my main character feels __________________. (Beginning emotional status)
In the beginning of the story, what happens to my main character is that (he/she) _________________. (Trigger event)
As a result of ___________________ (trigger event) my main character _________________________. (First action)
Because of ________________ (first action) what happens is__________________ (consequence of first action).
The __________________ (consequence of first action) causes my main character to have a new or intensified emotion of _____________________.
As a result of my character’s new or intensified emotional state, he/she ________________________ (final action) which causes my main character to _________________ (final result/consequence) and discover _____________ (revelation)
My main character’s name is ________________.
The next step is to create the story of your story using your information from the previous questions. This short paragraph will define your story plot and main character’s actions.
Using your answers from the earlier pages, complete the following sentence.
________________ (name) a _______year old _______________ (occupation) is feeling_____________ (beginning emotion). Then ___________________ (trigger action) and as a result he____________________. (First action). Because of ________________ (first action) what happens is __________________ (consequence of first action). Then ____________ (name) becomes _________________ (intense emotional state) and he ___________________ (final action) which results in _______________ (final result) and discovers _______________. (Revelation)
This paragraph is the basis of your book. There will be a great deal of other issues that will be created next as the seven major characters are formed, but that paragraph is the heart and soul of your story.

Days 7 – 9
The seven characters – we have two groups of three balanced characters.
Our main character has a job to do and the bully is going to get in his way. But the main character will also have an internal emotional conflict, (fear of heights, of spiders, he hates women, he loves sex). This conflict is an opposing issue that will prevent him, temporarily, from completing his task.
Our bully will also be conflicted. All the characters do.
We will now work with the seven characters, their original motivation and their conflicts.
The buddy and the clown have or will team up with our protagonist for a their own reasons and each will have an internal conflict. The bully, traitor and ass will team up with the antagonist and have their issues.
The antagonist, used in most plot descriptions, is a lame character, usually some kind of behind the scenes manipulator. Often the antagonist stays in the back of the story, until the bully, traitor and ass are defeated or turned against him. So, as far as plotting is concerned the antagonist is a 7th major character with minor involvement. (You see him as the evil villain or the corporate guy sending his henchmen to mess with the main character, )
We know what the protagonist’s goal is. What is his internal, emotional conflict? __________________
Why is the antagonist trying to stop her? ______________________________
What is the antagonist’s conflicting emotion? ____________________________
How does the antagonist know the bully ____________________________?
The traitor _____________________________
The ass _______________________________
Each of the five remaining characters gets this form
Circle one – buddy clown bully traitor ass
Character name __________________________
Current or former occupation __________________________
Why they teamed up __________________________
Conflicting emotion for teaming up __________________________
Reason to dislike the antagonist _____________________
Reason to dislike the protagonist _____________________
You can see by answering these questions, a plot is building. Conflicts are everywhere. But we already have scenes to write – meetings, incidents that have caused hate and resentment – conflict.
Days 10 – 21
There is a form for each scene below. Some of the listed scenes may be combined. No doubt new scenes will form from your creativity as you develop more details about your characters and their stories. Order is not important as with your computer you can write them as they appeal to you. The groupings are for informational purposes only.

How the protagonist got his name
protagonist’s job
protagonist’s age
Why the bully wants to stop the protagonist
How the buddy teamed up with the protagonist
how the clown teamed up with the protagonist
How the bully teamed up with the antagonist
how the traitor teamed up with the antagonist
how the ass teamed up with the antagonist
The buddy’s internal conflict
the traitor’s internal conflict
the ass’ internal conflict
the clown’s internal conflict
the protagonist’s internal conflict
Why the bully wants to stop the protagonist
the bully’s block to the protagonist – first time
the bully’s block to the protagonist – second time
Protagonist’s initial emotional status
trigger event
protagonist’s first action
The protagonist meets the antagonist
Protagonist’s intensified emotion
protagonist’s final action
final consequence
protagonist’s discovery

Scene Form
Characters involved ___________________________, _____________________________.
_____________________________, _____________________________
Purpose of scene ______________________________________________
How it relates to the theme ______________________________________________
Two external conflicts _____________________________, _____________________________
two internal conflicts _____________________________, _____________________________
one resolution ______________________________________________
how the remaining three are carried forward ______________________________________________
beginning of scene ______________________________________________
what happens at the end of the scene ______________________________________________
reminders – constant continuing conflict, for every action there is a reaction (but the reaction is noted, and does not necessarily happen in the same scene as the action)

You say, “But the scene where the ass meets the bully happens before the story starts.” Fine, make the card and then hold off on writing that scene. When you are done with all the scenes you know that occur within your story, incorporate the unwritten scenes through the use of dialogue or flashback.
Once these forms are completed, there is so much writing to be done it is almost a year’s worth of work possibly more. Then the scenes need to be written dovetailed, reviewed, analyzed and edited.

Two day publishing
Once you are done with your completed manuscript (including peer review, hiring a technical editor and having several trusted readers look it over) there are several steps to being published.
Traditional methods will take minimum of a year even if you are accepted by a publisher on the first day you finish. There are books in the production line ahead of you.
If you are heading for POD (print on demand) that will take at least a few weeks – contracts, payment, their review, etc).
Kindle however can be accomplished (with a property formatted manuscript and cover) usually with forty-eight house, sometimes even less.
The 3by3 writing method strongly encourages pursing traditional publishing methods while preparing the finished manuscript for self-publication.


About 3by3 writing method

The author of 12 books, half of them textbooks, two novels and three self help. has struggled with his challenges of completion, distractions, plotting and writers block. Finally after getting stopped I stopped and analyzed what was going on and spent a lot of introspection, research and reading trying to locate the source of these issues. The result of was the 3by3 writing method - a three step program to start and then continue the process of completing a story all the way to publication.
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3 Responses to How to plan a novel in 21 days, published in 2 (yes that’s a two)

  1. ceciliag says:

    I know you probably get piles of people writing to you saying more or less the same thing I am about to say. However – .. I had plotted out this first novel, (after years of working in scripts), in my usual way, using cards for each scene, putting them up, writing character descriptions, log line, , arcs of action and reaction, creating a beginning, a middle and an end, drawing my sets and locations, etc and have very happily begun to write it all down. (harder than i thought after years of dialogue to allow myself to really write). So upon encountering your site, I have taken all that I know so far and put it through your 3by3 wringer, squeezing out all the extraneous material, and there was a – Wow. It is further condensed into a manageable plan. And I have had moments of “Oh yeah! There it is.” Obviously i have only just begun however I would like to say Thank you. “Thank you” c

    • i didn’t do anything, really, you are the writer I am only offering what I’ve experienced. A reminder, when you get blocked, just look for where the confrontation has disappeared. Replace it and you should be back on track.

  2. Pingback: 3by3 writing method – the writing portion overview | 3by3writingmethod

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