This will not help everyone and some of you may plan in a completely different way. However, a lot of people struggle with where to begin so here we go.
Where do I start?
I would make a mindmap of everything you already know about your novel. This can be the amount of characters, personality of them and where your story is heading. It isn’t that important to have all the names of characters sorted but it is useful to jot some names down you could use.
Sorting through your ideas.
Firstly write down your story idea and the plot of your novel. Here you are laying out all of your ideas and you can begin to see which ones work well and which ones don’t. You can then start creating and thinking about making a timeline for your novel.
You can make this as detailed as you want, it’s up to you. You may find yourself with a large gaps between major events but that’s fine.
Ask yourself this question, what is the point of this character?
Then start to think about how they fit into the plot, their attributes both positive and negative that contributes to the story. Then you can start creating their personality, quirks and background.
I always find creating a character the most interesting bit. If you’re struggling, create a mind map to help you visualise your character.
It’s also a good idea to start thinking about this characters relationship with other characters. I like to write this down on each character profile.
We will at some point do a more detailed post, this is just the basics.
Top down approach: Create a general overview of the world and determining broad characteristics before then going into further detail. It can require a considerable amount of work before you have enough detail.
Bottom up approach: Focussing more on the small part of the world where the novel is set putting great consideration into the parts that are important to the novel. However this approach can cause inconsistencies.
You can plan further and continue expanding your ideas. I prefer to write a brief summary for each part of the novel, with bullet points with what I want to happen and when. This just gives me a focussed outline. And I enjoy it!
Writing frames are also useful to help you flesh out your ideas further.
But really, just get writing!