1. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    General opinions plan or write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by joeh1234, Jun 13, 2016.

    Hello All,

    So when I am freaking out that because I only studied English at high school, I always find myself wondering am I dong this writing lark all wrong. So invariably I read articles on line and I read things like:
    • Don't plan your story just sit down and write.
    • You should always plan your story .
    • Try to write a thousand words a day
    I get everyone will have a different method when it comes to their stories, just wondered what the general consensus on here was, sit and write or sit and plan. And as for the 1k words a day, I find myself not writing every day as I don't want to force it out, but when I do sit down at the laptop (every couple of days) I can write anywhere from 2k words onwards. So where does the try to write a thousand words a day come from?
    Thanks
    Joe
     
  2. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    This thread might help you @joeh1234

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/pantsing-or-the-value-of-freewriting.143720/#post-1405467

    Regarding your output—do you think the 2k + words come out naturally at a quality to be proud of? If so, this is a very rare talent indeed.

    Whilst I like seat of the pants mind dumps (excuse the visual) to ascertain an author's character, I do prefer to read something that's had as much time spent on it (maybe even more) polishing/refining it, as that of writing it.
     
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  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There is no general consensus, Joe. Topics like this are what writing forum flame wars are made of. :ohno::bigeek::-D My advice is to give both a go and see which one works best for you. You may well find, after trying both, that you land somewhere in a middle zone. I do. I have some key points planned out. I know where my story ends. But the space from point to point is all pantsing. ;)
     
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  4. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    I would say so yes, however I am an over confident person. And considering my first attempt at a novel was widely rejected probably not of the quality I thought it was......saying that my mum enjoyed it :D
     
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  5. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    Haha definitely was trying to start a war :D

    I tend to sit down and start writing with nothing in mind just spew out a chapter sometimes two, then don't write anything for an unspecified amount of time whilst it stews in my mind and then sit back down with a general outline and just spew until I hit a fork and then I take a break again whilst I let the story stew in my mind.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I sort of do this. My first sit-down to an idea is really amorphous. It's a scene, maybe a chapter. But it's just dough. I let it sit for a bit (just like you let dough rise) and then I come back to it. I usually cut that scene up into different parts. The characters have presented themselves. An idea for a setting has presented itself. I think about what I want to say with this story. The actual chain of events in the scene may get completely scrapped or it may get cut up and repurposed, spread out, becoming the points I mentioned. Linear is utterly foreign to me.
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Sounds like you're in the middle of the stupid planner vs pantser debate, like I think most people are.

    I honestly think the worst thing for a new writer is to read too many advice articles. Just try stuff out and see what works.
     
  8. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    I agree reading too many articles can be confusing and fill you with self doubt in your approach. I honestly like the way I do things at the moment and just wondered what other people do, none of my friends or family write so I can't ask them what they do.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with @Tenderiser. The problem with those kinds of articles is that, since they are written by writers, they are written in a very convincing language that this way is the way. They leave you with a sense that the writer of the article is speaking of objective truth, which, in this case, simply is not applicable.
     
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  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Here's my take on it: https://annakaling.com/2016/04/09/there-are-no-absolutes-in-writing-2/

    TLDR; we're pretty much all somewhere in the middle and we've got to find our own process.
     
  11. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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  12. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    I'm a very inexperienced amateur and therefore probably not the best person to weigh in on a question like this. But I thought it was an interesting question and decided to share what I've been doing.

    I had an idea for a central theme in the story I'm writing and was thinking it over and over in my head for a while (I couldn't say how long. I actually have no idea). I became quite obsessed with the idea, and decided I would try to write a novel about it. I suppose this thinking process was part of the planning. But I didn't do any planning after that. I found a novel of a similar length to what I would like mine to be, and used that as a rough guide for chapter length. I then started writing the scenario and dialogue I had been planning in my head for the first chapter. It naturally (and coincidentally) came to the length I had intended for each chapter, and unlike previous occasions when I've tried writing fiction I was pretty happy with the result (though I realise it will need revising and editing).

    My thinking had then gone a bit further into the plot and I realised it had become quite complex. I decided I needed to plan something, so made a flow chart of the chapters showing roughly what will be happening in each. This is not yet complete but it's enough to allow me to go back to writing. I have written a further two chapters over the past week, so approximately 700 words per day.

    My intention is to keep alternating between planning and writing, rather than doing them in two distinct phases. I have not yet put together profiles of my characters, though I have listed them with their general characteristics and what role the play generally in the plot. I can't decide whether further character profiling/planning is necessary or even advisable. I suppose it would help to keep the characters consistent, but I have been enjoying writing too much at this stage. I'm trying not to get carried away with the writing, so will probably try to regiment myself to a pattern (something like 'write one chapter then return to planning, return to writing when plans are thorough enough to continue').
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see two separate goals:

    1) Making progress on whatever you're working on.
    2) Practicing your writing skill.

    For (1) I think that the right thing to do is whatever thing is allowing you to make progress.

    If you wait and wait and wait and wait for inspiration, and essentially never write, you're not making progress. If you wait a week for inspiration and then you do sit down and create a chapter, and you don't end up throwing all of that chapter out later, you're making progress. If the same thing were true but the wait period was a year, well, you've made progress, but are you OK with the idea that it may take a few decades to create the book?

    Similar for editing while writing or not editing while writing. If you make sure every sentence is perfect when written, but you are making some progress, then I may shudder at how much I'd dislike your writing experience, but you're making progress, so my opinion doesn't count. If you make sure every sentence is perfect when written, and then when you come back to writing you re-perfect every sentence, over and over and over, and never make progress, then that isn't working for you.

    Me, I'm a rapid-first-drafter, when it comes to non-fiction. I will frequently write several hundred words, and then distill them into a better written, better organized core that's a fraction of that original size. I don't know what I am for fiction yet, because I haven't written enough. I'd be very very surprised to find that perfecting each sentence as I go works for me, but so far I'm not churning out as much fiction as I'd like to be, so I really need to be open to new ideas.

    For (2), however, I am a firm believer that you need to write a few million words before your writing is going to be much good. So whatever your work practice for your main work is, I think that you need to be writing something on a regular basis. A journal, a blog, incessant participation in forums, incessant emails, whatever, it doesn't matter as long as you're writing it "properly"--complete sentences, paragraphs, correct punctuation, etc.
     
  14. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    I work in a fairly technical job fixing Data issues for people on servers, so I send lots of emails on a daily basis explaining to a layman what I have fixed and how I have fixed it without getting to technical. Then I have to write the process notes for the work I have done, in case it ever comes back to bite me on the arse as well as instructional notes if it's a new process I have undertaken. So yeah I generally write a lot of professional documents/emails on a daily basis.
    However when I write fiction as it is a pleasure exercise more than anything, I tend not to re read for editorial purposes until the first draft is completed otherwise I don't think I would ever finish anything.
     
  15. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    You can either

    a)plan it out and write it
    b) write to discover and refine

    Two sides of the same coin, more or less.
     
  16. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    I found it easier to sit and just write, I knew what I wanted to say in my story but it wasn't until I wrote out my rough plan (pretty much my whole story) when I started to plan it out and moving things around.
    But it's really up to you to find what fits you, I never read up about how to write so I just tried out what fitted me.
    And about the 1k word count a day, it depends on how I'm feeling, I don't write everyday but when I do I'm like you and could write a lot or a little, it shouldn't matter unless your on a time scale? :)
     
  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I do a bit of planning for a novel and then write. Planning should not take much more than an hour or two, though. My main thing is to dive in get the first draft going and discover why I'm writing. Let the story evolve through trial and error rather than too careful planning.
     
  18. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    I love having a plan when i write, makes it easier to pinpoint exactly when everything starts going terribly wrong.
     
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  19. Kinzvlle
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    Kinzvlle Active Member

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    I like the idea of planning but i`m not a planner really, I tend to just write one draft to find my footing in the project and refine and rewrite from there. I`ll have loose plans and outlines on occasion, but I find it easier at least with how i`m wired to just dive in head first, and then refine from there. It`s a to each their own thing though. Like I said it works with how I'm wired some people may be completely different.
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll have to agree with this.

    I would only add that reading books on writing (as opposed to reading articles online) gives you lots of things to try out. Check my sig for a few suggestions.
     
  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    See I'd bunch those in with online articles - no difference in my mind. Well, except that articles are usually free and books aren't.
     
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  22. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    And if the writing they're known for is how-to articles and/or opinion pieces, I'd be leery of the advice they give. I'd almost say the only advice one should take on writing is from published authors.

    But that leaves us in a quandary because most published authors don't give away their secrets on writing, or at the very least, do so in a way that's pretty hard to mimic.

    It also seems that the best advice comes from those who had a modicum of success, but their careers didn't take off into the stratosphere. I can't say for sure this is true because I'm still testing out the advice I gleaned from the writings of Dwight V. Swain and Blake Snyder.

    But it certainly won't hurt to read your way through the 803.11 (if memory serves) section of your public library.
     
  23. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    Kind of on the same theme but possibly not, what are peoples opinion for having multiple stories on the go at any one point? Good, bad down right stupid?
     
  24. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    And if you were to summarize what advice did you glean?
     
  25. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless you borrow from the library (and this gets easier every year because most people don't do 'library' any more).

    I agree it can get confusing reading your way through a bunch of books on writing, but it does give a person more fodder for figuring out their own approach.

    You once said you thought I was a good writer and IMHO the reason is because I spent a lot of time studying writing, both on my own and at the post-grad level. Sure, it took me a while to find myself as a writer, but I'm sure other people would be able to condense the time it takes to do so. Maybe the OP is one of them. :)
     

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