1. Eddy
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    Eddy New Member

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    Do you plot out your book?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Eddy, Jun 22, 2006.

    Okay, I know some writers who just plot out their book as detailed as possible... others who just let it happen as it happens. What kind of writer are you? And what do you find more successful?
     
  2. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Well, I am currently reading "On Writing" by Stephen King, and he strongly discourages the use of actually plotting out your book...

    I've tried it, and I have to agree with the King. It seems that it makes the story stale and overthought.

    I'll do a little, but as little as I can.
     
  3. Kem Rixen
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    Kem Rixen New Member

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    I have a very loose idea of what I want, I've just been writing random chapters as I think of them. Surprisingly they flow together quite well. But in general, anything involving outlining or that sort of thing, I avoid.
     
  4. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Sort of the same here. I have an idea of what I'm aiming for, but I don't plot it paragraph by paragraph in advance.
     
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  5. Hylo
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    Hylo New Member

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    I always just "wrote by the seat of my pants" much like King says in On Writing but I began to think that maybe a more structured approach would benefit my stories better.

    I found a link to Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method which he has developed to plot out and structure his novels.

    Personally I thought it sucked all of my creativity out of me before I'd even started but a lot of people seem to swear by it. I prefer to let my imagination surprise as I keep writing, you don't get caught in as many "forced" situations then and can keep your writing fresh and fluid but that's just my take on it.
     
  6. Peter
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    Peter Member

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    I'm a long way off attempting my first novel, but I generally begin with a random sentence and go from there. I've realised if I plan ahead I come up with an abundance of ideas and can never choose what to go with. I did plan out a story when I first started writing, but despite the writing itself being neat and tidy, nothing flowed organically.

    But every writer is different.

    With the "Method" link you've posted, personally I'd stay well clear of using that. Read it, yeah, why not. But a writer's voice shouldn't just include prose, characters, plot, mood, whatever, but also the structure of their work.
     
  7. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I don't write specifics, really, when I start writing, but for my novel I found that I really, really needed to know where I was going.

    I have about three single spaced pages of notes about the nine books that are part of the story. However, the actual events part of any given book are usually fairly unplanned.
     
  8. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Nice posts Peter and Spherical.

    With my little experience, I've found that too much structure in any story can turn it dull, meaningless, and rushed. I've come to the conclusion (after reading "On Writing" by Stephen King) that it's best to leave your book unplotted, except for any basic ideas you have.
     
  9. Iai
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    Iai New Member

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    Well, to each his own. I think it really depends on exactly what type of book you're working on.

    With mine, it's pretty important to plot out all of the details in advance, because there are about three different factions affecting each other. It I didn't have it all mapped out, none of it would make sense. So in my particulat case, I do chart everything, but I leave all character dialogue and stage movement up to improvisation.

    i.e. Predestined confrontation takes place here.
    Write out dialogue, physical violence on the fly.

    I find that it keeps you well grounded and aware of your story, while still letting your creative juices flow.

    (Also, I find it good to go back and ask questions like, "Why did they do it this way?" and, "Why didn't she just do that to begin with?". It's a pain, because you have to rewrite a lot, but helps make things more realistic.)

    ~Iai
     
  10. cl0ud
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    cl0ud Member

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    I just can't plot out a book. Life doesn't have a plot, why should stories? If anything it makes the story more realistic, thats why I like Stephen King as an author and I love his stories. :cool:
     
  11. Iai
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    Iai New Member

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    The problem with that is, unless you're Stephen King, you have little hopes of improvising with comparable skill.

    To very loosely quote a line from Stephen King's "Misery":
    "The world needs us writers. We take the sloppy mess that is life, and organize it, nice and neat, into chapters."

    I believe that life does have a plot. It's called Fate. If I drop a penny, it will undoubtedly fall to the ground. That is fate. As a writer, I merely tell of the penny falling, before I drop it.

    ~Iai
     
  12. cl0ud
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    cl0ud Member

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    No offense Iai, but a penny falling to the ground isn't fate. It's gravity.
     
  13. Iai
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    Iai New Member

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    No offense taken. Allow me to retort.

    You're right, a penny does fall because of gravity. However, gravity is only a variable in life, just like wind direction, velocity of the fall, weight of the penny, and landing impact. But I think you're missing the point of fate.

    Look at it this way -- If someone punches me in the face, fate dictates that I will defend myself. It does this, because of the variables involved. It's logic.

    Variables:
    The attacker.
    Force of the punch
    Personal mood.
    Personal physical condition.
    The list goes on and on and on. There are millions of variables affecting this situation, but these major ones are the most prominent, and thus will dictate my reaction. Fate is the summation of all of these variables, and the ending conclusion. This is how we try to forsee the future.

    Another example. When christmas comes around this year, and you want a PS3, you will undoubtedly drop your mother hints for it, or simply ask outright. Think of the variables there.

    Variables:
    1.)The amount of desire you have presented to your mother for the item.
    2.) Your mother's income.
    3.) Your mothers judgment in whether or not you should have said item.

    These three factors are the highest variables on the list in deciding whether or not you get the system for christmas. Giving value to these variables, and measuring them, you can make a good guess at the future -- thus you are guessing at fate.

    This same logic translates in some story writing. In my case, I don't dictate the plot. Fate does. By setting up the right variables and following logic, the plot forms itself, and will be interesting or boring, depending in the creativity of your variables.

    Thusly, the penny falls Because of the variables (i.e. gravity) but fate dictates That it falls.

    ~Iai
     
  14. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Iai, I don't believe in fate. However, I do agree that as writers, we are merely telling the story. Putting something that's hidden, so to speak, into words.
     
  15. Mercury
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    Mercury Active Member

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    I've never attempted a novel, so I can't comment there - but I do tightly plot my short stories, and I think I've become so used to writing this way that I'll probably tackle my first novel in the same way.
     
  16. cl0ud
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    cl0ud Member

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    I can't plot, because my stories always go in directions that not even I foresaw.

    Iai I dont think you understand fate, fate is:something that unavoidably befalls a person; fortune*difenition taken from Dictionary.com

    If you get punched in the face you would defend yourself from testosterone, adreline, and animal instincts. Fate is less exact. Such as it was your fate to win the lottery, but there is lean way in fate. Fate doesn't decide that you will be punched in the face at this exact second on this exact date. Fate dictates that you will be punched in the face more than once in life. Fate is more opaque than clear if you get me.
     
  17. Mercury
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    Mercury Active Member

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    Do you mean you don't plot your short stories, cl0ud? And isn't fate just a superstition?
     
  18. cl0ud
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    cl0ud Member

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    I dont plot anything I write. Basically I write it down. I dont believe in fate, and so my stories and characters dont have a fate. I write, and the story turns in directions I couldn't have plotted out.
     
  19. Mercury
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    Mercury Active Member

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    That's a very brave way to write. I plot every short story before I start. Got to admit, though, I've never started a short story that stuck to the plot, it always changes as I go along and new things come to me, so I can see where you're coming from.
     
  20. Demika
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    Demika New Member

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    I used to plot out the whole story, but it'd kinda go 'dead' by the time I got to the middle and I'd be bored with it...so I don't anymore. Now I just plot a -very- loose summary of one chapter at a time (if I'm writing chapters) and if i'm not, I'll plot out a loose summary of a few paragraphs at a time.
     
  21. brick
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    brick New Member

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    I'll plot what I want the story to be like overall, and I'll plot where I want it to end; but everything up until there is whatever pops up in my head.
     
  22. Verto
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    Verto Member

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    I think I'm the same as brick, I will think about the overall story perhaps scribble down a couple of character bios. Then I am off, into the magical land of literature.
     
  23. lioness1612
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    lioness1612 Senior Member

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    Well, I have to have at least a decent idea of what the plot is and where the story will head before writing... Tried it the 'fly by the seat of my pants' way, and I kept having to rewrite the beginning over and over to match what the story was becoming. Chapters come much easier when I have an idea of where I want the story to go.
     
  24. Iai
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    Iai New Member

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    ..... Might I ask where you're getting your facts from? How did you come to that conclusion? I pray to God you haven't accumulated all of your philosophical thoughts on Fate from Dictionary dot com.

    On the good side, your .com definition does have some truth to it. Fate is (usually) unavoidable, as a summation of events beyond or unknown to us. I don't personally put fate in that broad of a scope, but I'll humor it, for now.

    On the bad side, it's a one-line-fix-all answer to a very complicated question. I would have expected much more.
     
  25. nightscare
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    nightscare New Member

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    I just write whatever comes into my head for fun! If its serious I will get bio's down for the main antagonist and protagonist but other then that I just see how it goes and what I feel like writing.
     

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