Yesterday I spent the entire day plotting novels with two of my good writing buddies. It was glorious.
If you have a couple of friends and a spare day, I highly suggest setting up a plotting retreat. It's fairly simple, and works best with about three people. You'll need to clear off your schedule for one whole day - we started at 9 a.m. and went until 7:30 p.m. Here's what we did.
1) Before the retreat, each of us had the concepts for two novels in mind. Homework included working on character sketches, GMCs, backstories, etc.
2) On the day of the retreat, we met at our friend's house. It was cozy and comfortable, and most importantly, there was no dress code! Since I'm still struggling to heal from my recent surgery, I was able to recline the entire time and was quite content (yes, we had chocolate!).
3) Each session is comprised of one hour and fifteen minutes. We set a timer so we wouldn't get off track. We took turns plotting out each person's book. I was first. So, for one hour and fifteen minutes, we plotted out my next novel from beginning to end. Then, after taking a fifteen minute break, the next person went. We did this all day long, stopping for breaks and to eat lunch and supper.
In the end, each of us plotted two books a piece. Suffice to say that we were all brain dead by the time we were done, but what a productive day! There's something about brainstorming with other writers that makes it so much easier to come up with ideas. It also helps you to stay on track and not let your plot wander off into no man's land.
This kind of plotting basically constructs the spine and the bare bones of your novel. It leaves lots and lots of room open for change and development. I'm quite excited because I only had the threads of my next story in mind, but now I know exactly which direction to take it.
Have a great week!