1. lhjfoster
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    lhjfoster New Member

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    Impulse or planned?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by lhjfoster, Aug 21, 2014.

    Hey Guys,

    Basically I'm just wondering what everyone thinks gets the best out of their writing, to be impulsive and write as you go on, or to plan everything out. I have planned a lot but sometimes get an impulse where an idea just comes to me and it gets written in. Are the best pieces of writing impulse or planned, are the best writers impulsive or do they plan? Or should there always be a mix?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The best writers use whatever method or variation of it that works for them and not what someone else tells them is "best".
     
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  3. Amanda_Geisler
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    Amanda_Geisler Contributing Member Reviewer

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    There is a 'best' way and a 'worst' way for each individual writer. My best way is on impulse, I write without really thinking too much, it actually feels like I'm reading a book, but this way also generates a lot of grammar issues. My worst way is planning, I can't stick to a plan and if I try I get blocked. I do minimal planning, the full extent of my planning is a few notes or maybe some research into what I'm writing, getting names and have some idea of the future of the story.

    Work on finding what works best for you. How much planning do you need? How spontaneous can you be? Does the project require more planning/research then others?
    There are many factors involved when finding what works for you, it takes many writers weeks, months if not years to find the perfect balance for themselves, even the best ones, however many years ago they would have been asking the same questions as all of us here on these forums are asking. Take your time, test yourself, and you will find your balance.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
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  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Impulse. My current novel started as a small paragraph of dialogue I wrote on a whim. She was explaining her childhood. That then grew and mixed with another idea about a homeless girl who sleeps in a cemetery because it's safer than an alley. Everything that grew from that has been organic.

    As for what is best, as mentioned, that's not a question that can be answered. it depends what books you like. For me, half planned yet mainly impulsive books are best. Some are written on impulse but are based on true events so the planning as such is irrelevant.
     
  5. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Planned, as of recently. I get demotivated very easily when I have to start patching holes. That said, It's like chocolate explosion and vanilla blast; each flavour's worth testing, and to each their own waffle.
     
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  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you can look at this issue from the perspective of what you want to accomplish, rather than what is 'best.'

    If you have the conclusion of your story in mind, I imagine you'll need to do a lot of planning to get yourself there. Impulse is probably not the way you'll work this one.

    However, if you start with a 'what if' idea, or just an impression of an event or character, and you don't know where your idea is leading, then probably impulse works best. You can refine and shape the story later, after it's written.

    The real danger to impulse writing is that it often doesn't get finished. Just an idea that floats past and doesn't go anywhere.

    The real danger to extensive planning is that the story can feel flat and over-directed—like the difference between free painting and doing a jigsaw puzzle.

    I'd say do what feels right while you're working. Just get the job done however you can.
     
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  7. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    ditto to what everybody above said re: the "best" way is what works for you. for me personally, I like to have at least the skeleton of a story either before I start or in the early stages. I'll sometimes write out important scenes and hang them in the approximate places I think they'll need to be, putting the heart (and guts) in, as it were. then comes the work of fleshing it out.

    unfortunately, I have a habit of coming up with nifty scenes or vignettes, and then completely failing to come up with an actual story to have them happen in--or have an idea for a setting or background, and then be unable to figure out a plot to happen in that setting. "Oh hey, this would make a great spleen! Now I just need a body to put it in... hmm..."
     
  8. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I'm not (yet) convinced it's a dichotomy like that. I think it can be situational, as @jannert alluded to. And I'm not sure there's a plan/impulse dichotomy either: while some adamantly prefer either 'plan' or 'impulse', I think plenty use elements of each, making it more of a spectrum.

    I'd like to try both, to see whether it would have a drastic effect on the quality of what I produce, or whether (after rewriting and editing) I'd end up at a similar place anyway. From one perspective, you could argue that 'planning' is just a proactive approach to plotholes, etc to save time rewriting later (and the converse: impulse, reactive, save time planning earlier).

    And then there's your priority regarding the journey or the destination. What if I hate planning, but get better results that way?

    Agree. I suspect if you'd like (e.g.) an incredibly complex plot, you might paint yourself into a corner if you don't plan. But then if you want (e.g.) organic, believable characters, they might come across too cold and clinical if you overplan.
     
  9. Cadavar
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    Cadavar Active Member

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    I have different methods depending on the type of fiction I am writing. I always have a loose plan outlined on index cards when I write a novel. When I write flash fiction or a short story I can fly by the seat of my pants.


    I think Amanda explained the ‘right’ way to write a novel well. What’s required to get the words out depends on what the author feels is right for them.
     
  10. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I follow my impulse, I tend to get derailed. But getting derailed is a valuable experience; it is how my favorite ideas usually come to me.

    I am still searching for the perfect method for allowing myself to get derailed and to capture the the ideas that come about, while still staying on track.
     
  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've tried different methods and these days, I tend to write in subplots. Each has usually about 10-20 k words, so they are like long short stories, in a way. I always found it easier to work in this way, tackling smaller aspects and then stringing it all together. I'll break up each subplot into about 4-5 chapters, these have a broad theme to describe, but I might, if I'm having trouble writing organically, consider a list of scenes I want to include in each chapter, to help me work it out.
     
  12. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @KaTrian and I do both: when we're not writing, we plan or brainstorm, create new ideas, and when we write, we execute those ideas and plans as well as go off on spontaneous tangents. E.g. we had planned a part in one of the last chapters of our WIP, we started writing, and suddenly a minor scene turned central which, as it turns out, worked great. Do whatever serves your writing.
     
  13. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    I do both. I plan all key events and I patch together the rest. That way, I can take the story where ever I want to but still keep to the main story. It provides the best flexibility without getting you lost and derailed.
     
  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Good question. I don't know. My first novel was pretty planned and I love it ( warts and all ). But sometimes just getting a whim and going with it had been amazing. But if I don't plan on paper my mind is busy sorting things out. But things are never concrete - endings so solidly formed in my mind half way through transform into something else maybe even moments before I write them. Writing for me is all about the opportunity of the moment and being open to a fresh change.
     

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