Writing a Novel: Organizing Your Big Idea

An Idea Is Only Great if You Can Find a Way to Capture It

Robin Konie


Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

77% of people dream of writing a book.

Okay, I made that statistic up as a placeholder. Turns out the number is even higher at 81 percent of Americans who feel they have a book inside them.

But the gap between those who finish and those who never get past the first few pages is big. And maybe that’s because you didn’t give your idea time to marinate or find its legs. I talk about that in my initial post of this series, where I pull back the curtain on writing a novel from start to finish.

For many people, however, the bigger challenge is finding a way to take that big idea, dig it for necessary details, and not get overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities you unlock.

Before I even start writing a book, I need to understand the story better. Whether you want to outline or plot the whole thing or ride by the seat of your pants, it never hurts to take some time and get a better sense of your characters, setting, and the significant scenes that will shape the overall arc.

It’s a big, fun, messy brainstorming marathon that can quickly get overwhelming if you don’t figure out how to organize the onslaught of ideas that will undoubtedly come pouring out.

Find a Method of Organization that Works for You

Photo by Ferenc Horvath on Unsplash

Once I had a decent handle on my story idea, it was time to start digging for details. In the past, I’ve just created a Google Drive folder with documents and spreadsheets of characters, backstory, research, potential scene ideas, etc.

While working on my last book, Scrolls of Prophecy, I found this tool called Plottr, which I really like (and no, I’m not affiliated; I’m just a happy customer).

Plottr allows me to organize my ideas better. I’ve begun creating a cast of characters where I can add details, photos, and backstories. There’s a section for key places that help the story take shape. I have files of trends and headlines from…



Robin Konie

Author & Freelance Editor. Making stuff up for forty years. robinkonie.com