Part 2 – Requirements
Last time we talked about how writing a novel can follow a project methodology. At its most basic level, a process like this can be used as a guideline for any project; from building a house, a software solution, planning a wedding and, as I discovered, writing a novel.
Phases typically contain Concept (mentioned in our previous blog), Requirements, Design, Build, Test and Implement.
The Requirements phase
Today I’d like to discuss the requirements phase, otherwise known as the what.
When I was starting the publication process, the publisher sent me a questionnaire:
- Describe your book’s primary theme(s) or message.
- Describe your target audience by factors such as age group, interests, education, gender, etc.
- What is the tone of your work?
(Humorous, dramatic, ironic, professional, etc.)
- What inspired you to write the book?
- What is your ultimate goal for the book?
- What distinguishes your book from others?
- How do you want readers to perceive your book?
- Why do you think your work is newsworthy?* (Can you relate your work to any current events? What makes your work different than others on the market)?
- What message do you want your readers to come away with?
- What three words best describe your book?
- What emotions do you think readers will have while reading your book?
Whoa! Eeek! GACK!
But wait… I remembered that, over the years, I had created a document called “My novel – My Dream.” This document considered those questions and captured my requirements. I would write little notes from time to time until it built up into a 10 page document.
I have the following headers in it:
What is your dream? What is it you need to achieve to make it happen? What is your ultimate goal? What skills do you require? What about materials? What are you going to need to make this happen? Why do you want to write a novel? What will it mean to you? What are the benefits? Can you identify any risks and challenges? What genre are you writing? What makes your story unique? Who is your target audience (sex, age etc)? What might you need to investigate or research? Do you plan to include any historical or factual information? (If so, you may need to study to make your story more real and accurate) What people will you require – reviewers, supporters, experts?
Creating this document did not mean I didn’t start the actual writing process. In fact it’s better if you have started – in project world this is called iterative development ;-) lol.
I found, even during writing, it was really beneficial to stop and take time out of the story to ask myself those questions and confirm my thought process. This bit of analysis will definitely help you plan and know what your ultimate goal is. And remember, these answers will also be required in preparation for publication and promotion.
Like any type of project, it’s essential to know the what requirements. It helps plan, design and build the final product.
I’m interested to hear from other writers who may have done a similar thing. If so, did it help? If not. Would it have helped?
Next time we will talk about the design phase, the how!