I'm collecting my notes today, but I doubt I'll spend the full allowance of seven days on planning. I want to make sure I have a list of recurring and incidental characters after I get the overall story outline, whether they have been named yet or not. I have a tendency to forget some character names, but I'm also not ashamed to enter brackets and blanks to fill in later. :)
After I finish a basic outline, I'll split it up and expand it into chapter headings and enter it all into a new Word document. I just use Times New Roman font, size 12 point. I set all the page margins to 1 inch. I center the chapter numbers and titles and align the body of text to the left with a default indent. All standard formatting stuff that will make my writing virtually brainless!
If I have time left over before November 1, I do a little more preparation. I may make a world map, do some character art for visualization purposes, and design the weapons. But if you've seen my Character Portfolio, you'll know that most of that is already done for the main characters. I don't want to go overboard with a full family tree and social hierarchy map, but I may. Stuff like that just helps in the rewrite process or with a very complicated political plot structure.
Now, here is where I need help:
1. What is the difference in "Mainstream fiction" and any other genre? I've seen sci-fi and fantasy fall under "Mainstream," but I don't know what makes certain fiction "Universally Appealing."
2. One of my form rejections was accompanied by a note that told me that my writing is more for young adults than adults. Young adult readers are between 13 and 17, and up to 20 in some accounts.This led me to my new direction with this novel's story concept. Violence is an unfortunate but necessary part of my character's world. What examples can you provide from popular novels that would showcase appropriate levels of violence for young adult readers?