1. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    How much do you plan and research?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by laciemn, May 15, 2010.

    I absolutely loathe planning and research and usually skip it, besides an idea about the end or the next chapter. I often have a problem completing things, though, because I "run out of steam" and get overwhelmed by trying to figure out everything that is happening, has happened, and will happen and how it all works together. I've tried planning, just a list of a few things I think should happen. But my mind goes kind of blank unless I actually write what happens. It's like I am incapable of deciding what will happen next until I'm actually writing it, and it is SO hard to try to write and plan at the same time. I know this is a bit rant-y, help always appreciated!

    My mind has kind of resistance to it. I feel like it's a waste of time and energy that would be better spent just writing, but I do want some guidelines.

    *Edit: I also hate those "outline worksheets" but if anyone has one that is open and not really specific and anal it might work for me :)
     
  2. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Are you talking about novels? For novels I usually just do a simple outline chapter by chapter, with often fairly vague details like "Kay gets into a fight with Marla", just to help keep the story flow straight (I also often revise my outlines as I'm writing to fit with where the book might go).

    You might try just taking notes as you go so that you have a comprehensive list of what you've put in etc...
     
  3. nettkkr
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    nettkkr Member

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    actually, my first draft is my outline. When I sit and write, just whatever comes to my head, it usually allows me to outline the novel chapter by chapter and give me some sort of insight into the actual story. As far as research, In the book I'm writing now, I did it on the fly. If I needed to read another book or two to understand what concept i'm trying to give, i kept myself from writing until I knew what was going on. It's just my style of writing.

    However doing it like this means a few rewrites. I'm currently on the actual 3rd rewrite of the book. Each time, bringing in more aspect of the actual story than just a plot that's my first rough draft.
     
  4. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    When I'm planning my novel I write down a general idea about where it's going to go and I add to that as I write. However I do alot of research when I have specifics in my novel, e.g.: Exotic locations, buildings, languages (real ones). I try to be as accurate as possible without over doing it. Personally I like researching and finding out about stuff, and yet I hated school go figure, lol. Advice? If I were you I'd try planning by using a mind map or something more visual and creative, that might help :)
     
  5. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    my problem is that **** that comes into my head is so random. it's hard to get into anything organize that relates the end, the "core matter" or whatever. Like I've tried writing the first draft as an outline and sometimes it's like

    Airyn got off the boat and three hundred chickens appeared out of thin air and started pecking her eyes out.
     
  6. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Hmm, it sounds like you might need to figure out how to rope your brain into focusing on telling a tight story. Maybe you should try writing a few short stories to get the feel of how traditional story structure works? Maybe you are writing stories with too many elements to them/the plot to start? If you don't have a good idea of at least some of the plot, then maybe you don't have a good grasp of story plotting and pacing yet. There's lots of resources to help with that, including reverse outlining books you like (ie you go through the book and write an outline based on what happens in each chapter- this can give a very good picture of how a book is paced/plotted and show you maybe how to work out the same sort of structure for your own work.)

    Hope that helps :)
     
  7. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really need to know how that one ends! ;)
     
  8. Colby_Shea
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    Colby_Shea New Member

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    I do a ton of research before I start on a novel. But I think that that's just me-- whenever I've been even remotely interested in something, I research it to death until I could spew out every detail about it without a hitch. It takes me a good two weeks to a month or so from the point of coming up with the idea for a story, to actually beginning writing it.

    But I understand completely what you're saying about your thoughts being so random and scatter-brained; mine are the same way. When it comes to actual scenes and events in the story I'm writing, I've got pages and pages covered in scribbles of random things that have come to mind that I just had to jot down. Heck, that's the whole reason I'm awake right now, at 3:30 in the morning! I was trying to fall asleep and this little scene between two of my characters kept playing over and over in my head, and I had to write it down before I could even think to fall asleep.

    I don't think my researching ever stops, though. But again, I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoys spending countless hours googling things and what have you, haha.
     
  9. Laxaria
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    Laxaria Member

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    I haven't tried this yet, but I have this grand idea of simply just writing, without description, in as simple english as possible, everything that happens from starting to finish. Once you have your progression of plots, ideas, characters, it becomes a lot easier to attempt to add description and beef up your ideas.

    I honestly haven't tried this, but I am going to give this a shot for NaNo this year, especially seeing I will only have 2 weeks (or about 1.5) to complete after my IB finals.
     
  10. Colby_Shea
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    Colby_Shea New Member

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    Oh gosh, what a plan! I can't wait to hear how it all turns out, you'll have to keep us updated! :D
     
  11. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    that DOES sound good. What about dialogue? I was just thinking it would be very easy to omit the dialogue at first, and very quick, then write it separately. Or maybe something like, "Jan and Dan discuss important plot point #7" or something.
     
  12. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    I also enjoy wikipedia and random googling, but more for the sake of itself. I only like to read the interesting stuff, and most of the time when I'm writing I feel like I'm lacking in an area that is not of particular interest to me, but I want to have it fit in with the story.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    only as much as each piece of work requires... for most of my work, the answer is 'i don't'...
     
  14. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Depends on the plot & genre for me usually. Sci-fi requires a lot more research than personal non-fiction for example. If you're writing about something you're unsure of, yes, research is invaluable, but isn't if you're not, obviously.
    Unless a key aspect of the phlebotinium of my story is dependant on the im/possibility of something, or something like that, I usually forgo research until I'm tying up loose ends.
    That said, I rather like doing research when it's interesting & especially when it's applicable to real-life. Not always a common combo, but worth hoping for. Tactfully working relevant research into your work can actually be pretty fulfilling, & is great practice for all future writing.
     
  15. Laxaria
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    Laxaria Member

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    I think the reason why I think this will work is the nature of writing for me. I am well aware I spend a little too much describing and not a lot actually telling a story. I reckon that if I spend 2 hours or so sitting down to write nothing but a story, then beef up the ideas aftewards, I might get a more pleasing result rather than just disjointed "creative writing essays".

    I do think that such a style would require practice, but if you are desperate, give it a shot. It was just this crazy idea I think I will need if I am to finish NaNo (anyone else doing this year?) in 2 weeks.

    Just tailor it to your needs, but use as little adjectives, adverbs and description as possible. I often find myself adding plot devices like foreshadowing and symoblism within the description process, rather than in the progression of the plot. Like through flourishes of a hand or a slight wink of an eyebrow.

    That's just me though. I don't know if it will work for everyone.
     
  16. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I just finished a novel length project and, even though it is in the fantasy genre, wound up doing quite a bit of research. I did not start of doing the research, but as I worked, it became apparent what I needed to know more about. I did do a good bit of planning before I started, as well as working on a lot of background that doesn't directly come into the story but seemed to make my descriptions and setting much stronger.
     
  17. Magix1reaper
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    Magix1reaper Member

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    Simply answer is I don't. I have just recently but that's just recently. I don't plan or research anything when I start. It's after I've started, if the work is long, that I have to go back over and find whatever it is I forgot about plots and whatnot.
     
  18. John Marsden
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    John Marsden New Member

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    I think the amount of planning and research depends largely on the person and the type of novel you are writing. For example for the novel I am writing at the moment I have created a whole world with research into all the different aspects that come with that. However some people do not like this much planning and stick with stuff they already know.

    I would say you should plan out some basics characters and a loose course of events which you can then add to and slightly deviate from as you want to. Also if you are setting your story in some time other than your own make sure you research the basics of that era ie. Dont have motor cars or gas cookers in medieval times etc.

    The great thing with writing is each person does it differently and so you get such a wide variety of books. So the real response is try it different ways and see which suits you. Maybe if you have tried to write without research and have struggled try writing one with a bit more research and see how you fair.
     
  19. rowlocks
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    rowlocks New Member

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    Sometimes it is annoying if the writer has done a lot of research and includes too much detail, even if it is accurate.
    I think the main thing is for the story to be convincing.
     

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