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  1. Shahar
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    Shahar Member

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    Planning ahead

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shahar, Jun 9, 2011.

    Hello, first of all I believe I should notice I'm new both to this community and to book writing.
    My question is; how far ahead, regarding the main events of your book's plot, do you plan?
    Should I just follow the general outline of my idea, letting myself go with the flow or make a detailed list of events before I start to actually write? Thanks.
     
  2. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I try to go all the way. Makes it easier to write. I think of how I am going to end it, the major turning points or events that I want in the story and maybe a sub-plot. I try to come up with at-least three major events I want in the story. Then I write my way to those events. The transition chapters are killer.

    Plots for me are very dynamic though. They tend to shift, bend or even break, as I write the story. It's more of an art than a science.
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Plan all the way through so you don't corner yourself with a gaping plot hole. That happened to me in the first novel I finished.
     
  4. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    When I start a story, I usually know the beginning and the end. It's the middle I have trouble with. ;)
     
  5. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    I don't mean to offend anyone at all in any manner in my saying this, but for the most part, plans tend to restrict you. If you keep a full agenda for your characters, then you leave little room for plot twists, side-events, and other interesting tidbits of a book. For some people, writing with a full plan works, but as much as we'd all like to think that the best books were planned, these people tend to be the minority, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. I'd get a good idea of the main plot twists and climaxes, and let your characters decide what to do in between. If you can get into a character's head to decide to take a dirt path instead of the main road, you'll find the book reads slower, but the reader will want to get to the final destination because of their anticipation.
     
  6. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    Not at all. I always say use what works for you. Every one has their way of writing. I like planning it out because it makes it easier to write.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    This is a valid point. Don't feel like you're a slave to your plan or that you can't change it, because the plan is there to help you, not stifle you. I just find that it's beneficial to figure out beforehand how characters might handle perplexing situations or obstacles. These are areas where it's easy to hit a brick wall and get stuck if you have no idea what you're doing. But if you make a plan, then the story takes turns that are different from the plan but better, then go for it.
     
  8. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I totally agree. Plots for me should be dynamic. Don't think of a plot as rigged but more of a guide line to steer your story.
     
  9. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I agree with Mallory. That's one of the reasons I don't plot very far ahead or keep my plot vague at points, so that I can change it and not bend my words around it.
     
  10. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have most of the novel planned before I even start writing. If I don't have a solid outline to work with them I tend to ramble more, hit walls and find plot holes.
     
  11. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Outlines are a vaccination against writer's block. Many starry eyed new writers jump on an idea and start writing. A lot of those novels end up at a dead end a few chapters in. If you have a proper plan this is impossible.
     
  12. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I always jump in without a plan and for every few ideas that bottom out (and a lot do), I'll have one that doesn't.
    Whereas if I write with a plan from the get-go, I'll get bored because I know what happens, and I'll never finish it.

    Just my own technique, though. Everyone works differently :) I've read great stories that were planned, and just as good ones which weren't.

    I do always make an outline after I write my first draft, which is more structured, and rewrite within the boundaries of that plan, so that my imagination doesn't go off on a tangent again.
     
  13. Shahar
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    Shahar Member

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    I'm really surprised with the amount of responses I got here. This kind of devotion to a community is rare. :)

    I deided to adopt Mallory's approach for now. I will build an outline, but I wont restrict my self to it. Thanks everybody :)
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I completely agree with this and your other posts on this topic. I do the same, I look at them as a guideline, knowing the beginning, the end and the major events that will occur during the time in between. Im totally disagree that a plan shopuld limit you, actually if that is the case the limits are probably more in your head if you can't change plans and adapt the plot to the new ideas you inevitably will get while writing.

    exactly! that was a good way of putting it :)
     
  15. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    I disagree - planning is a must and does not stop any creativity. I believe it enhances creativty by keeping a firm grip of the reigns and that a lot of writers shun this because it's more hard work then just blathering forwards. And everyone knows when it starts feeling like work, it stops being fun - but that doesn't mean that you're less creative.

    A plan is not a pattern that's repeated and followed. A plan of action is ambition and it means you are mindful of the future.

    Also you'd pretty much have to plan sentence by sentence before a plan becomes restrictive - because in planning scenes, you have beginning, and an end point. The creativity comes from getting your character to that end point, in the best way possible - without this clear plan the writer gets lost and so does the reader. The pressure is also off so you can put life into the characters and think through the overall believability.

    Anyway. I don't neccessarily like the plan - but I know it's worth and use. I suppose I just use the techniques that work for me when structuring and planning academic writing to apply to fiction. I think the basics are the same.
     
  16. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    This is not even close to being true, lots of pepole have a plan and still get stuck with their books, sometimes it even last forever. a plan does not mean you wont reach a dead end a few chapters in. Can it help stop you form hitting a dead end? Sure it can, but not make it impossible to hit one.
     
  17. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    It really differs for everyone. Some people, like me, are OCD-esque and need everything perfectly planned out so we know where to go and how to do it. Others hate plans and write whatever the heck they want to write, letting their imaginations and impulses "plan" the story for them. Most are in between.

    The important thing, I think, is to be open-minded. If your story demands a change, then accept that change and implement it.
     
  18. HBAdams
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    HBAdams Member

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    I try to get at least my main plot a solid beginning and end before I start writing... the fun part is trying to get from point A to point B! That way I'm not restricted with HOW I get to the end, but I still have a goal to work towards.
     
  19. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Really? I can understand that people get bored with their novel and stop. That's not exactly what I would call a dead end, and it's not really writer's block.

    What I was refering to is when you don't know where to take your novel after you've already dedicated more than a few thousand words to it. Please explain how this is possible if you have a general outline of the story right to the climax? I'm curious.
     
  20. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that is one of the best ways, AND the most satisfying. :)
     
  21. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Because a plan is not meant to be full proof, maybe you might write a plan and stick to it but most pepole rewrite the plan over and over I imagine if you do it once or twice

    for example i wrote a book about a killer robot, I have a plan to defeat him with a cliché of "logic" now this is that he is as flawed as humans and must be destroyed to, now of course he could blow up but what good would that do why not wait in till AFTER the humans are dead? (besides the obvious good guys win)
    So then how could you stop the bad guy?

    Now this is assuming you wrote your 1st,2nd and maybe even 3rd plan
    you can't come up with anything and you drop it
    (there are more complex things out their I'm sure but you get the idea)

    The big thing is, who writes the plan, some pepole write a plan and its full of holes, others can write a plan and make not holes in it
     
  22. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    A thousand words in may seem like a lot, but it's barely breaking the tip of the iceberg unless if it's a short story. Plans are good for some people, but most, myself included, will need more inspiration to a chapter other than just, "Oh, this needs to happen." Even when you get to this dead end, I find it's always good to have another piece to work on, usually it works well if the story is radically different, so when you need a break on something, you move on to another. A story needs to be fun to write, and sometimes a writer won't be up to writing it, planned out or not.
     
  23. Vance
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    Vance Member

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    I say it really depends on your genre. If you are writing a thriller(depending on the kind of thriller) or a horror story, it's much easier to just go with the flow than say, with a cozy mystery.

    Cozy mysteries need to be carefully prepared in order to be good.

    Many mystery writers such as John Dickson Carr(who wrote thousands of locked room mysteries) and Zangwill(who wrote the terrific Big Bow Mystery) said that the mystery genre, in specific, absolutely could not be written without planning if you wanted to write a good novel.

    So yes, I would say it depends on the genre. If it's a thriller, a horror, among others, you can write a very good novel with little planning at all. But for a mystery, it needs to be planned and rehearsed like a military operation.
     
  24. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    Do what feels right for you. There is no magic formula for pre-writing, or writing, or rewriting for that matter. Personally, I have the main events in my head already and I figure out how the story gets to those events. I almost never outline or plan outside my mind in any major way. I don't really feel I need to if I've got a firm grasp on what the story is. But again, it's all about what you feel comfortable with.
     
  25. MissLotty
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    MissLotty Member

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    I agree entirely. In my personal experience (bearing in mind it is different for everyone) I can't stick to a plan.
    I started out with time lines and plot roughly some of the events. But I found that with character development, I develop an (almost) alter ego and Know what has to happen for the character. Sometimes you just feel that things are wrong and wouldn’t happen; where as other things are just meant to be. You will know what is right when you have sat down and started to type.
     

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