1. Uber Aubergine
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    Uber Aubergine New Member

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    How detailed is your planning?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Uber Aubergine, Nov 5, 2014.

    Hi guys, i'm new to the forums, thought I'd try and make writing a little bit more social.

    I'm working on a novel at the moment - one I've been tiptoeing around for the best part of a year now - and I was just wondering how much detail you guys go into when planning your novels out?

    I started writing a while back with little-to-no planning, realised how terrible a decision that was and have since gone back to extensively plan out the narrative with as much detail as possible. Anyway, I'm in the process of brushing up my character profiles, the general story arc, chapter structure as well as giving myself another tonne of research to do (while I'm really supposed to be studying for Uni might I add) and now I'm even thinking about creating a number of floor plans for various structures in order to maintain consistency and ensure I don't trip myself up later on.
    I've added so many sub-plots and finite details that I think this planning has to be essential.

    So, i'm just curious, how in-depth do you guys go when you're planning?

    P.s. This novel is taking over my life.
     
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  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't plan, so no details whatsoever. :)
     
  3. Njal
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    Njal Member

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    It's definitely going to be different for different people - but also for different stories! :)

    For short stories I start with a rough idea of who the characters are and where the plot is going but a lot of the detail of the plot I discover as I write.

    Longer stories start out this way but once they get to 3 or more main characters they start to need a bit more forethought and planning. Here are a few things I do:
    • Write a basic description of what I want to happen in each chapter. Once I have this framework each mini-description becomes the working title for its respective chapter. For example, Peter meets Jenny and has an argument, introduce Jane who is selling her house.
    • Sketch a map to help me think about the setting.
    • Make a timeline for the world and relevant events such as character births/deaths.
    • Make timelines for characters so I know what they're up to 'off-screen'. Depending on how tight the action is, this could be down the the hour, day or month.
    • Write bullet point character bios. Having all of a character's traits / relationships together in one place helps fill in the gaps and make new connections.

     
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  4. Uber Aubergine
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    Uber Aubergine New Member

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    Yeah, that's the kind of thing I've been doing. This is actually my first novel - I used to write 'the beginning' of loads of short stories when I was younger, I guess the lack of character development and sub-plots killed them... unsurprisingly you don't care about that much when you're 10/12.

    It's interesting what you say about sketching a map. I'm actually setting my novel in the Borneo Rainforest and I have a map of Borneo to place down markers and such for wherever my protagonists adventures take him; I was going to use various place names as their real-life counterparts too. What I'd really like is a huge blown-up version which I can stick on my wall and attach post-it notes and such to it, or a table version that can occupy chess pieces for when shit gets serious. :agreed:
     
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  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This is a common question from new members. And while it is a matter of personal preference, I tend to agree with @Njal - the more complex the work you are writing, the more planning will help you. But I make this caveat, and it's a biggie - plan, but be flexible. There are serendipitous moments in the course of writing in which you will suddenly decide to turn in a new direction, either for the story itself or for one or more characters. Because as your characters evolve, they change the story and as the story emerges, it changes the characters. This is a natural occurrence that stems from the fact that we don't conceptualize every aspect of the entire story at the beginning. "Pantsers", as they are called, choose to leave it all to the evolutionary process, but if you're writing something long and involved, I've found that tends to leave me with a much heavier burden of editing. So, I like a loose structure, basic guidelines, simple character arcs that I know I will fill in later. I want to know basically where I am starting and where I am finishing (even if I haven't decided on the exact ending). I also draw up a simple chapter outline, but I've learned (the hard way) that one can't allow the outline to lock one in.

    Good luck.
     
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  6. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    I don't. I follow my characters. They have never lead me astray yet.
     
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  7. karmazon
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    karmazon Member

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    I plan extremely thoroughly. I start with a rough idea and continue breaking it down, first into the most important but general points (inciting incident, first act break, midpoint, second act break, climax) then beats between those points, until I feel I have enough. Then I do scene and sequel descriptions (according to Jack Bickham's scene/sequel) theory.
     
  8. Miss Red
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    Miss Red Member

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    I never planned the actual story when I began writing because I didn't know it was a thing. It was awful.

    But when I learned about planning, and when I experimented with planning out a moderately large project, I end up freaking myself out with all the 'work' I have to do.

    Maybe I'm not putting enough detail in, maybe I'm missing the point, maybe I need to experiment more.
    I'm experimenting with simple chapter outlines and mini descriptions right now, but no super-detailed stuff.

    However, I really do like writing the mechanics of the story, like the character bios, basic outline of the world, (and any important buildings or locations,) a brief history of the place, and any information on any of the new made up creatures or dynamics that aren't natural. (Magic, technology, monsters, fantasy creatures, aliens...)

    I get too carried away with that part. :D
     
  9. Twist
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    Twist Member

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    Generally, I have like one or two plot points and maybe a few details in mind before I start writing, and the rest I make up as I go along.
     
  10. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    I'm always dreaming or just imagining things and then writing about them. When I go into too much planning and plotting and all that other stuff I wind up losing interest or just forgetting a lot of what it was that inspired me in the first place.

    Oh!

    Sometimes a scene does play out really well in my head and I have to write it down and work on it later though. I have a notepad of scribbles.
     
  11. beauxsox
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    beauxsox New Member

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    Hey guys, new member here.
    Lots of great stuff and plenty of advice to pull from.
    I have worked in ways where I just free wrote and whatever came to me I would write down and then piece together later.
    Then I have also planned out various short stories and papers using spider webs and basic outlines.
    I really love some of the ways that I have seen in this thread and I think I will try to apply them to some upcoming writings.
     
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  12. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @beauxsox Welcome, and good luck!
     

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