1. Possum
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    Possum Member

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    How to Plan a Fiction Piece

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Possum, Mar 30, 2016.

    I've never written a long, fiction piece, and I honestly don't know how to begin. I'm far more comfortable writing non-fiction, with a thesis statement and detailed outline.
    So how do you plan a fiction piece? Do you just figure out the basics of the plot, and start writing? Or do you meticulously plan out every bit, scene by scene?
    Also, do you start writing from the beginning of your story, or somewhere in the middle? (With non fiction I usually write my introduction last, when I know the piece better.)
    I know everyone does it differently, but I'm just curious how you do it?
     
  2. BadCrow
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    BadCrow Member

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    Well, I'm currently working on a rather long piece with several part.
    I started by outlining the World i was writting in and the main theme i wanted to write about (in my case the rise of the human empire).

    Afterwards I wrote short descriptions on what i wanted my political and economical factors to be. After that i started to wirte my main characters and their history.
    Once i had my world, my theme and my characters is wrote several pieces in the world i had created (background knowledge not actually in the book but rather to get a feel for the world i had created)
    And then after i had all the things I needed, I drafted a summary on what would happen in the book (about 10 pages long).

    So now I am hapily writting my book ^^

    others like to dive right in and make up things as they go along, but thats not my style.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Here's how my novella is going -
    1. An idea - triggered by a photo on the internet - a childstar whose breakout role is a fantasy sprite
    2. I shape the idea to include some plot - The fourteen year old child star is hired by a famous television writer/creator who is hoping for this project to be his comeback series. He is creatively burnt out but has been given the go-ahead by a cable company based on his reputation. The kid turns out to be accidently more creative than him and he turns the unstable kid into a reluctant muse. When the kid realizes he has power over the director interesting things start to happen.
    3. Even if I don't have everything worked out and by this you can see I don't, I just start writing
    4. And continue writing - making up stuff as I go along.

    If this is your first fiction project I'd say just plunge in, or if you really like organizing maybe check out the snowflake method. Which is a cool way to get you thinking about your characters and plot.
     
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  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Everyone's process is different. For what it's worth I approach non-fiction in the same way as you and apply it to fiction.

    1. Follow @peachalulu's steps 1 and 2
    2. Write down the main characters' arcs in broad terms (e.g. lacks self confidence ---> confident)
    3. Work out a bunch of details that are specific to romance (why the MCs are attracted to each other, what keeps them apart, etc)
    4. When I know roughly how the story will go, I create a table with the columns:
    • Chapter number
    • Main events (usually 5-10 words)
    • The purpose of the chapter (i.e. what the reader is supposed to learn from it about the characters/plot)
    • How the character arc progresses (not all chapters have an arc milestone)
    • Where the conflict in the scene comes from. Every scene must have conflict or tension from somewhere.
    5. Start writing.

    I'll usually only have 20-30 words in my table for each chapter, but it's enough for me. If I didn't have any sort of outline I wouldn't come out with a satisfying character arc, appropriate pacing or a coherent plot.
     
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  5. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Step 1. What story do I you want to tell? Any themes or concepts i want to explore.
    Step 2. What genre and setting is most appropriate?
    Step 3. What characters am I going to use?
    Step 4. Plan the rough events.
    Step 5. Reread the events, if I think its cliche, change two or three of the events.
    Step 6. Check again.

    My planning for each section and character is normally their role in the plot, and a crash course in their personalities. After that, get to work.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    With little short stories, I just start and see where it goes.

    I've tried that with novels. I have yet to finish a novel. So, that's apparently not so much working for me. :)

    There's one novel with a reasonably coherent plot that I have in my head, that I'm trying to make myself sit down and write. That novel has a beginning, an end, and maybe four milestones in between. That's about as far as I intend to plan it.

    Assuming I do succeed in planting myself in a chair for enough hours, I expect that I will write a big bubble of prose "around" each of those milestones, write glue to tie the bubbles together, call that the first draft, and then massage the result through at least two or three more drafts until you can no longer see the seams.

    But I haven't done it yet. In a year, ask me how that went.
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I do what a lot of people are saying and think about stuff before I do it. Very similar to @Tenderiser except I get bits and pieces from all over the plot coming into my head sometimes. I try to work on early bits where I'm at, but there's only so much I can restrain the chaos!!!:D Damn ADHD.
    It works for me though, I think.
     
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  8. PassTheDrinks
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    For me, it really depends on how much I know about my story before actually writing it. For the most part, I always sit down and do a brainstorm. I list out the characters I want to use, their relatonship to each other, maybe some minor details like their age and what their main point it. Before I know it, I have it all figured out.
     
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  9. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    I have no desire to figure everything out before I write the story. I start with a basic idea and let the characters tell me what they want to do along the way. I see a lot of people posting about writing long pages of backstory and worldbuilding before they write the story. That would drive me insane. I can't imagine writing a hundred pages just to be used as notes for something else. Besides, once I wrote the story I'd probably want to change most of it anyway.

    I try to keep things in proper order but on occasion if I'm stuck someplace I jump ahead to another point in the story where I already know what I want to focus on. I've already written most of the ending to my current WIP but there's still another 20,000 words or so that needs to be filled in the gap I left between. Then I'll go back through the entire thing all over again and make adjustments.
     
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  10. PassTheDrinks
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    PassTheDrinks Member

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    Everyone has their own particular way of writing and how to get started, John Greene said that to me when I was 16 and he visited my high school library and I was having a particularly hard time figuring out how to process my book. I find it difficult in giving advice to those who ask certain questions about writing due to the vast differences in how one can write. All I can give is advice on what works for me.
     
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  11. Ziggy.
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    Ziggy. Member

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    When it comes down to writing and planning, there are a thousand ways that one writer can go. Some people don't plan anything at all a la King or they're plan out meticulous outlines like Follett. I myself try to find a middle ground. I like to imagine my characters and I'll jot down notes; goals, motivation, personality, appearance, and their arc.

    If I can see the characters and where I want to go, the plot dictates itself more. I'll create a sort of barebones outline which has important notes and stuff but I give myself a lot of breathing room in order to edit, change, or completely revamp whole sections.
     
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  12. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Come up with characters.
    Come up with when/where plot takes place.
    Begin Writing
    Reread often to keep consistency, and the story as a whole straight and correct.
    Plotting notes. Nah, make up the story keeping true to what the characters would do in their fictional universe. (Lay-mans terms:B.S. with a direction)
    Research the finer points to give credibility to real places/things in fictional universe.
    Concept art of characters somewhere along in the process.
    Continue writing, working to keep things unpredictable to feel more 'believable', and less formulaic.
    Proofread and edit regularly. (Worst part of entire process) :p
    Decide it is too long, and spark up a sequel where the first one left off. And then redo all the previous steps. :D

    So far I have one novel done 123k words approx., and the sequel is 25k words so far. Marketing is a whole other can of complicated worms, and possibly a hell of a lot harder than actually writing the story. Currently sitting at writing story as an unpublished B.S. artist on a keyboard. :p
     
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  13. loonypapa
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    loonypapa Member

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    I had the whole basic arc of my current novel in my head before I wrote a single word. And even when I started, I'd write some, and then spend a week or two just sitting there thinking the whole thing out. I would literally 'read' this good story out in my head. The entire story, scene by scene, all in my head. Maybe while I was driving, or during a flight. But it was all done in my head.

    Once I got the first three chapters done and the story was coming out of the main character (which was the hardest part for me), I felt like I was on to something, so then I put the arc down on paper. This arc was then formally mapped out - again, after I started writing - along these simple lines:

    1. Classic crisis introduction in the first three sentences
    2. Intro to the main character as the smoke clears
    3. Character gets saddled with a significant problem to solve having to do with the initial crisis
    4. Character chooses to take on the challenge
    5. Character gets faced with a string of discoveries and setbacks along the way
    6. Crisis culminates about 3/4 the way through with an all-is-lost-how-are-we-going-to-get-out-of-this-predicament-now moment
    7. A short section of wallowing in uncertainty
    8. An 'a-ha!' moment were a solution emerges
    9. Things get tidied up and we find closure

    I don't like reading stream of consciousness works like The Sound and The Fury, where it feels like I'm stepping into someone else's life for a bit. I could never get past the first chapter of Ulysses. Just not my bag. I like thrillers. Open the door, turn on the lights, and there's a body on the floor. And for me, I need to visualize the story in my head, and then I need to have a plan, in that order.
     
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  14. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I've had no interest in writing anything but my fiction novel... This has meant a massively steep learning curve as I hit a brick wall and then start my novel from scratch, again and again. For the first time, I'm in a really good place, and can see light at the end of the tunnel. I have learnt that I am a complete opposite of Stephen King. I must plan and plot every significant part and fit it altogether like a giant jigsaw. Expecting characters 'to show me' where to go, is impossible, as most of them would curl up into a ball and give up. Also I don't believe my characters really have much control on events, in much the same way, I can not influence the speed the world spins. As a novel writer, I am God, I tell my characters what is going to happen, and there is such a thing as fate. Just the way I work of course, after much learning.
     
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