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Maybe you are just beginning your novel. Maybe you have a full draft and are ready to set it aside and reimagine your story. Wherever you are in the process, these questions are essential.

1. What do you know about your novel?

Before reading more, answer this question with whatever comes to mind, big or small, specific or abstract.

Now, consider these elements (and know that it is absolutely fine if many of them are not yet clear to you):

Who are your characters?

What are the main settings?

What big themes, ideas, or questions are you exploring?

What is the main conflict?

2. What do you need to discover about your novel? What are the questions and gaps and stumbling blocks you are facing?

Going forward, keep this page nearby. Pin it to your wall, or keep it open on your computer, or tuck it into your notebook to access easily. Your list of knowns and unknowns will grow longer and more complicated as our time together continues—and that is a good thing! You will also have incredible bursts of clarity—and that will be a good thing, too.