1. angelicrock
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    angelicrock New Member

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    1st Novel looking for advice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by angelicrock, May 5, 2012.

    Writing my first novel (not trying to sell it, just for fun) and I am having trouble planning it out. Most of my writing is short 1-10 pages and so I dont usually plan any of it. Im used to starting with an idea and putting the pen to paper and seeing where I end up. I found this method to be very difficult for a long story with multiple turning points.

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    My question is, what do you guys do when planning a story? I have the prologue pretty much completed and I am trying to story board the rest before I continue writing. Im used to video production where story boards are visual and the script is already written. I think this is why I am struggling. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I c an understand where you're coming from. With the novel I'm currently writing, I split everything into 'arcs' and estimate the chapters that would be in those 'arcs'.

    Then, when I work on an arc, I write vague bullet points about what I want to happen in each chapter. I never really stick to it but it still helps keep me on track. I also write a small synopsis and plan the characters vaguely. I prefer to develop them as the story goes along because it's fun that way...to me at least lol.
    You don't need to plan a lot, it depends what kind of writing you are. If you're used to just 'putting the pen to the paper' then plan vaguely just to get the structure of your story, then write and see where that takes you!

    I hope this helped :3
  3. angelicrock
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    angelicrock New Member

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    Hopefully I dont sound dumb, but what do you mean by arcs?
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Don't worry, you don't! That's my fault for not explaining~

    'Arcs' are like 'seasons' on a television show. Each one might focus on a different aspect of the plot or a certain character.
    I hope that explained it properly.
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Senior Member Contributor

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    No two authors will plan/write their novel the exact same what, but nothing wrong with seeing how others do it and modify to your needs and writing method.

    Some writers will tell you that they don't plan at all and just write and see where it goes. And that planning destroys the fun and mystery and, because of that, it gets boring--not only to the writer but to the potential reader.

    Other writers attempt to plan most details, from scene to scene.

    What's worked for me is to do like an outline. I decide where the story will start and how it will end. I then list the major plot events that I anticipate occurring to get from the beginning to the end. The advantage of this is that I always have something to write towards and don't get stuck or blocked. Another advantage is that I don't go off on tangents or have a wandering storyline with plotlines that go nowhere or plot holes, or I write myself into a corner. It also makes editing/revision much smoother and less demanding as major portions don't need to be cut, revised, rewritten, added, etc.

    Just because you put something down as planned, doesn't mean it can't be changed or altered along the way, or that new ideas cannot be inserted into the plot.

    It’s kind of like mapping out a vacation—the routes one will take and places to stop and visit. Just like in a vacation, some places are visited longer than anticipated, with a few surprises and additions along the way. Detours sometimes occur and places anticipated for a visit get bypassed. But, in the end, the destination is reached.

    Good luck moving forward.
  6. angelicrock
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    angelicrock New Member

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    This did help a lot. Youniquee, that did help. I also found a description of Nigel Watts 8 point arc which explained it in a lot more detail. I probably wont plan everything into arcs but I think using a few for the more complex plot points will help me.

    TWErvin: I am totally that writer who gets bored once its all planned out. I like the method you describe to plan out major points and then use that as my finish line. That seems like the happiest medium between pen to paper and full planning. It always feels like once I have something planned out 100% I lose interest so I want to avoid that.
  7. A.L.Mitchell
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    A.L.Mitchell Member

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    Sometimes writers won't plan nor they will tell their friends. But I find that its best to plan and its normally a few months, after that I'll would possibly have a novel that is worth writing. That was how I did when I started writing a novel but whatever you want to do, is totally up to you.
  8. louis1
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    louis1 Member

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    I work with plot points. what I mean by that is I start of with an idea then list everything crazy that could happen. once I'm done and found how I want the story to end I start organizing the plot points in chronological order. obviously sometimes I need to get rid of some ideas because they just don't fit in the story and I also have to create new '' scene'' to fill the holes between one scene and the other. Once I'm done I have over 50 plot point that will bring my main character from point A to point B to point C .... until the end.
    that's how I work for large stories.

    Take note that I haven't finished my first novel yet so this might be a terrible technique I don't know yet ahaha . good luck
  9. LAHall
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    LAHall New Member

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    If I were you, I'd plan out the entire story in my head (or on paper) and then begin to write it. Things will make more sense front-to-back if you write with intention throughout.
  10. Protar
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    Protar New Member

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    I tend to not plan too much, but I have an idea of the main plot points in the story. Then as I'm writing I flesh out the individual scenes.
  11. KRHolbrook
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    KRHolbrook Member

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    When it came to starting on my novel, I had the basic plot of what I wanted, but after a while of planning it out a bit more, I switched things around. I've introduced the antagonist within the prologue so everyone knows who he is when he pops out somewhere in the book. After that, I had to choose where to begin, and I began everything with a dare to go to a haunted house. I wrote the first chapter then went and did some outlines on further chapters, so I know what each chapter should go into detail on.

    Back when I was in school I never did any outlines; I'd just write it all as it came. But the smaller outlines I'd done for this novel are helping in pushing me forward.
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

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    I make a list of bullet points. For example: 1. John wakes up and finds an angel in his room. 2. John and angel dialogue. 3. Angel takes him to heaven. 4. Establish what heaven looks like, other characters etc. Build friendship between Angel and John. 5. Giant snake emerges and takes Angel away. 6. John seeks help. 7. John finds XYZ and devices a plan......

    etc etc etc. And then I may look it over and split it into potential chapters just to show myself where the action is, where should things cut. But these are quite loose boundaries that change often, but it does show me the maximum length or maximum amount of action a single chapter should have - I often end up splitting it into even smaller chapters. In my "plan" I marked down that I had 13 chapters. My first draft finished up with 27 chapters.

    That was the first and only time I ever planned, so I don't have a mapped out or sophisticated way of planning yet, but even this helped me a lot. I couldn't finish my first draft before I had this "skeleton". Things still change and I chopped a number of bullet points out. It's just a loose structure that gives you a set direction that doesn't change. I often don't plan how something will look, or if a bullet point said "John saves Angel" - I don't plan how he's gonna do that. So I still get a lot of fun and spontaneity :D
  13. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Member

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    Short stories I usually just write and see where they go.

    I find it a lot harder to do that with novels. Sometimes I try to, but it generally leads to me scrapping what I write and sitting around and thinking things over. Especially when it comes to characters, I find a novel has to tell you a lot more.

    For a short story, a character's desire might be very simple: Joe wants to play basketball.

    For a long story, the audience is investing a lot more time and energy, and so a lot more has to come out. Why does Joe want to play basketball? What is at stake? What are the obstacles? How will Joe change over the course of the action? Is Joe wanting to play basketball enough to keep the audience going for 250 pages? What do other characters want? How will that affect what Joe wants?

    Not that some of those things don't apply for a short story also, but for me, I write the two completely differently. So for a novel, I will say I spend a lot of time (maybe too much time) trying to figure out exactly who my characters are, and what the plot is. It's frustrating. If you can write without doing it my way, I suggest it, because I drive myself crazy, but it is what it is.
  14. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause New Member

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    If you're finding it difficult to plan your story, some writers find the 'Snowflake Method' quite useful. You can either Google it, or the method is built in as a template on Storymill (writing software). I usually use an adapted form of this when planning a longer piece of work.
  15. tristan.n
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    tristan.n Member

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    I have to know exactly how my story will end before I start writing it, that way every sentence is a step toward the end and I don't get caught up in rambling. I usually jot down some notes about my characters' backgrounds or appearances, but I don't spend too much time detailing them; I figure they'll develop themselves as the story goes along. For the plot, I start off with a ten- to fourteen-point outline that highlights the main events, and then I write a very condensed, very basic form of the story and call it a detailed outline, which usually ranges from ten to fifty written pages.
    By that time I'm sick of planning and want to get into the actual story, and it's a lot easier to stay focused and keep a steady pace that way.
    But that's just me!

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