When I first started writing (when I was still working in a bank), I assumed that because inventing stories was a creative process, I didn’t need to be particularly organised about it. I was wrong! I soon realised I needed to be just as structured in my approach to writing a novel as I had been in my banking career. So, my top tip is to buy yourself a lovely notebook to plan out your novel. Divide it up into sections and collate all your notes in the book, creating spaces for plot ideas, detailed character notes, related research … and anything else you think you might need.
Once you have a firm idea for your story, try writing a rough chapter structure. Don’t worry too much about the length of each chapter at this stage but note down the key events you’re planning to flesh out, as well as thoughts about the way your characters will react. This way you should be able to clearly identify your beginning, your middle and your end and what you are trying to say with your novel. Set yourself deadlines and make sure you keep track of your plot and your characters – this way you’ll have a sense of how long the novel will take to write and how to balance your chapters.
When you’re organised – let your creativity flow and have fun writing!
Sasha Wagstaff had a successful career as an assistant vice president in a major corporate bank in London before her husband convinced her to leave and follow her dream of becoming a writer. Author of Changing Grooms and Wicked Games, Sasha’s latest novel, Heaven Scent, tells the tale of a glittering perfume empire, a glamorous but troubled French family and a young, English widow who finds herself embroiled in all the romance and drama.