1. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    How do you plan your stories?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by soxfan, Jul 19, 2010.

    How do you plan your short stories, poems, and novels?
    I am a new writer and I would like some insight on planning stories. So go ahead and tell me how you go about planning what is going to happen in your story. I am all ears.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't really lol I tend to just write. Sometimes I write a list of events I would like to see in the book and in the order I want them to appear. And sometimes I just play about with paragraphs.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I make a vague outline of what my novel will be about. Nothing too detailed, just a general idea of setting, MC, main villain, beginning, middle, end, very general plotline. Then, I make a "scene checklist" or list of what events will occur in a chapter before I write the chapter. I leave the scene checklist on the word doc that I'm writing in. Basically, I keep my outline and writing in the same document together, then erase the outline portion of the stuff I've already written--especially since my "outlining" aside from the scene lists basically just consists of psychotic ramblings that make no sense to anyone else.

    I find that formatting a plot is challenging at first, but becomes natural as the story kicks off on its own. Have a general idea of where it will go, so you don't write yourself into a brick wall. But don't force yourself to stay on a path. Subplots and character developments will arise on their own.

    For short stories, I just write.
     
  4. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    Interesting...when I just write, I tend to hit a brick wall and have no clue where to go. I just starte outlining for a sort I am about to write and it is going well but it sort of gets annoying. I just wanna write!
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I plan novel-length projects. A brief outline that I can follow (which usually is changed quite a lot as I'm going).

    I don't plan for short stories. I just sit down with sort of a vague idea of what I want to do and start typing.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well. This will almost sound Dadaistic. Mostly i dont.

    I think about a concept a lot and come up with awesome stuff like explosions, characters, killer fish and so on. Awesome stuff to eventually put into the story. Quite completely random. I got pages of pages of random single senrence stuff and concepts that might fit the story.

    And then I chose a starting point a direction and go.

    Im a quite hardcore exploration writer.
     
  7. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    Wow ! It's really interesting how everyone is so different when they write! Keep it coming people. This could really help me in the future.
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    On big projects like novels, I just start with very vague notions about a character or two and a setting. I write a "test scene" - a scene which I do not plan to include in the novel; it's just something I write to get a handle on the characters and tone I'm looking for. Then maybe another test scene. These don't have to have anything to do with any actual plot yet. But gradually something forms in my mind about my characters and their world and I begin to sense a plot coming on. I follow up with more scenes, only these ones might just find their way into the novel. I'm still not writing anything in any order; I'm not starting at the beginning or anything like that. I just wind up with an accumulation of material, and there's a novel in it somewhere. Maybe some of the test scenes will, in modified form, get included in the final work. Maybe some major changes have been made along the way. But there comes a point at which I realize I've got something I can develop into a novel - it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has conflicts and character relationships that change. It has a pretty richly-imagined world.

    I have to say that this process is the most fun I get as a writer. I love it. All this work I do BEFORE I commit to a fixed storyline, all this work I do just to gather my material, is wonderfully enjoyable. Once I start writing the actual plot, going from beginning to end, managing pace and subclimaxes and things like that, it starts feeling more like work. But that first stage, when I'm writing the test scenes, is writing bliss.
     
  9. TodgeWatherly
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    TodgeWatherly Member

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    I agree: it's fascinating to see how different we all are. Me, I tried to just go with the flow. I'd come up with some story idea and try to make it turn into a novel with very little planning. Lol, that ended up not going so well. Now I try to plan it more as I go along, but I find that the planning never seems to truly stop (although my expertise on the matter is not to be trusted as I've yet to finish a novel).

    The biggest thing--I think--to keep in mind that while writing is fun, you need to be a little business about it at times.

    Ugh.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find if I am blocked best way is to still write keep writing even if its not very good.
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Ditto what Steerpike said. With minor characters (really everyone besides the MC and main villain(s)), I just have a vague idea of what purpose they'll serve in the story, and their development and motivations and subplots kind of develop naturally as I write.

    Also, as Elgaisma said, just write -- but another thing that I do that helps me is to write a list above each chapter, in a different color like red or green: "Problems with this chapter" or "Writer's concerns" or something to that effect. Then list out all the things you feel like you need to change, but go back to them later. Just move forward. Once you have a better idea of where your writing is going, go back and address the things on the list.

    I'm a big list fan with outlining, as you can tell. haha.
     
  12. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    I do a lot of daydreaming, so the basic story is the easy part. From there on, I convert it from dream format, to story format, which involves making a definite conflict and goal. Dreams are usually a little vague in that sense.
    At this point I have a skeleton to work with. I know the beginning, middle, and end. So no brick walls for me. Then I just keep on dreaming, bringing the characters to life, and having them live in my head. When I have my story, I start writing.
    I usually leave the latter parts of the story a little vague, just in case the writing wants to divert from my plans a little, and because it is difficult to remember all the details, even in my own story. I dream the details of the parts I am working on, and though my mind will often wander towards the end of the story (in which case I write the details down) I find that it is fairly easy to stay focused.


    As for research, if I'm on a roll, but need to find out what wild plants might be edible in that part of the world, I leave a space, highlight it yellow, and keep on going with the story. Most of the time it doesn't really matter whether or not they eat strawberries, raspberries, or mushrooms, but if strawberries are not ripe till a certain part of the year, it could be a problem if the story takes place in the spring. I find that even when the story doesn't require a ton of research (fiction not based on any time period and location) I still have to do research in between in order to keep my story believable. In order for the reader to believe the story, I need to make sure the unicorn doesn't contradict the story, or itself (No, I don't have a unicorn in my story, but hopefully you can see that even the figments of our imaginations need to make sense to the reader).

    Yes, I do keep a outline of the story. I find it much easier to avoid plot holes when I know what is going to happen in the future.
    I competely understand that for some writers it works to just start somewhere and write, but I seriously believe that new inexperienced writers really need to be wary of this. The beginning of the story should match with the end. If you have a basic plan, you can see the beginning and the end at the same time. Write spontaniously, and months down the road, when you reach the end of your story, you have to make sure that it still matches the beginning. As a new writer, there are so many things to worry about, consistancy shouldn't have to be a big problem when you complete the book.

    Just my two cents. :)
     
  13. Chel
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    Chel Member

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    My current work in progress was supposed to just be a framework for telling another story.

    I know many people will cringe at this, but the story to be told is that of a fantasy RPG... it's not as bad as it sounds as the game didn't contain either elves or orcs, hardly any of the "standard" RPG magic. It was all court intrigue, scheming, murder and romance.

    The story I wanted to write was already told, but the framework wasn't - and the new characters I created to do the telling and listening took on a life of their own very quickly after I set the stage for them. Thus they needed a plot of their own, which very kindly the characters my husband and I played in the RPG provided.

    Now I have a strong start and I know where it will end, but I don't know how, as both my main characters have some very difficult choices ahead of them. I want to get to know them better before I can plan the details of the end.

    In short, I can't say I really planned this story very well in advance, but I do know what is going on. Now I jsut need to give my main characters some gentle nudges in the right direction and see what they do about it. :)
     
  14. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    The entire storyline and plot-line came to me suddenly, it was merely for me to fill in the blanks as I wrote it. Although it took me over two years it was, for the most part, easy. The sequel less so; for that I had to think (which is never a good thing).
     
  15. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Right now I'm planning a big project. But, since I've figured out most of the characters (I write out the minor ones as I go) and events (I usually figure out a destination and write my way there), I'm kicking myself trying to get started, because I'm afraid I'll fall into a big plot hole or run into a writer's block. Ah well.

    Like others have said, for short stories I freewrite. That goes for poems too.
     
  16. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    Nice. Nice. A lot of these ways of writing really wouldn't work for me and some would. I am currently writing a story and have decided to to an outline for every chapter. It will take a little while but so far it has been goin good. What do you guys think about this?
     
  17. BlueWolf
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    BlueWolf Banned

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    There is no hard and set way to write, it is simply whatever works for you.
     
  18. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    That is true. By the way the first chapter of the story I am working on right now will be finished soon and it sure will be up in the novel section soon if anyone wants to review it.
     
  19. AdamWriting
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    AdamWriting Member

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    Here's how I've approached a novel:

    First, I'll start with a premise consisting of about 3 parts: "when something happens", followed by "someone uses his/her skills to do something", followed by "they win/lose and leaves the world in a new state".

    Second, I'll work out my villian and what his plan is.

    Third, I'll work out my hero, his flaws and how he can resolve them through story. I pay close attention to how the hero and the villian are ideally suited to conflict with one another.

    Forth, I go back to premise and break each of the original 3 parts into 3 parts for each. I often do this backwards. I start with the ending and work back to the beginning.

    Fifth, I figure out theme and possible symbols.

    Sixth, I figure out supporting characters on how they play on variations of theme. I pay close attention to additional conflicts between all characters here.

    Seventh, I figure out main character revelations and changes. I figure out twists and turns here. I make a list of stuff people would expect and try to change a few for surprises.

    Eight, I attempt to layout all scenes.

    During the process, I often go back to each step and modify them until I'm satisfied all parts fit well together.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It seems to me, after having seen many interviews with authors over the years, that the authors who write thrillers, mysteries, and other very-tightly-plotted fiction are the ones who most like to work from outlines. Authors who write more character-driven or philosophical fiction tend to not like outlines. Isaac Asimov said that writing from an outline is like "trying to play the piano from inside a straitjacket."

    Just thought I'd stick that out there. Also, I don't use outlines.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't plan them... i get an idea and start writing... the stories sort of 'plan themselves' as i go...
     
  22. soxfan
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    soxfan Member

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    Interesting. Very interesting...
     
  23. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Minstrel, thats very interesting. I am currently writing a character driven novel. Its still very early days. I am preferring to write other things at the minute to practice it. But I have a beginning and end worked out. I am starting to think that once I start writing the end might look a bit different to what I had planned.
     
  24. Robyn
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    Robyn Member

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    I don't really plan it out when I write. I just sort of get an idea and jot it down in a notebook I take with me everywhere. If I think the idea's really good, I start writing. If it's not that good, I'll just come back to it later.
     
  25. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    My characters, just as they don't create themselves but introduce themselves, tell me their stories and I faithfully record them. It's odd when a character is so real, so substantial to me that it works that way.
     

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