1. Yasin
    Offline

    Yasin Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK

    Planning before writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Yasin, Nov 29, 2011.

    I would just like to know how many of you plan your books from start to finish before you write?
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Not me. Idea for the MC, idea for the 'starting gun', then let 'er rip!
     
  3. Pea
    Offline

    Pea super pea!

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2011
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    in the garden
    Hell yes. Planning is a must for me. Though I might start writing a scene or two that comes to mind before I decide it's an interesting enough concept to expand it. I start writing an outline, but mostly brainstorm a lot until everything gets fleshed out. The parts that I know how to write I'll start doing, along with worldbuilding (I prefer writing fantasy and sci-fi) and finding the characters. It would be incredibly difficult if not impossible for me to write a book without planning. I just wouldn't have any idea where to go. Most of my inspiration comes from long walks in the rain, meditation or dreaming. Sure, sometimes a good scene or two snaps into place while writing... but doing a whole book like that? It's like constructing a house without a blueprint, imo.

    Tl;dr: Yes, I plan.
     
  4. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Planning is definitely a must for me too, but everyone is different. My stories wouldn't make much sense if I didn't plan them beforehand. It's ok when I'm writing just for me, like I did when I was younger and didn't have any plans on trying to get my stories published, but now I feel it's necessary if I want to produce something worth reading.
     
  5. Marge
    Offline

    Marge Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have a rough outline before I start (sometimes a short note for each chapter), but I do have to know my characters well before I start or I get stuck pretty quickly. I don't like to plan in detail ahead of time because then I tend to lose some of my motivation to actually write the thing. Once I've started writing, scenes/situations will often pop up and take me down a completely different path and that, for me, is the really fun part!
     
  6. Midnight_Adventurer
    Offline

    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2010
    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I plan, mostly because if I didn't my stories would wonder all over the place. I do as much location, character, chapter development as my brain can handle and then I start writing. I also keep hard copies and soft copies of my planning so I can work on my stories whenever. I absolutely love planning and organizing it all. It's reassuring in a way because if I get lost or I'm unsure of what my characters are supposed to do next I can go back over my planning and it'll put me back on track :)
     
  7. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I agree, planning is really fun, and i usually come up with the best plot ideas when planning. It's like the part of the brain that generates ideas wake up and start working.
     
  8. Raki
    Offline

    Raki Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    317
    Likes Received:
    6
    I used to. I found that when planning, I would sometimes force the characters to make a certain decision or I would let plot drive the story, and the end result wasn't what was expected. Now, I save most of my planning time for the setting and the situation, and let the chips fall where they may for the rest of it.
     
  9. Dandroid
    Offline

    Dandroid Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Canada
    i map out about 80%
     
  10. BookWeaver
    Offline

    BookWeaver New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montana
    For me, it depends on the length and complexity of the project. (And I do most of my planning inside my head.) I'm not particularly fond of outlines because they tend to eat my motivation, but I do like to make reference sheets. It's nice to maintain some amount of consistency with one's characters so that they don't have brown hair one moment and red hair the next. :D
     
  11. Show
    Offline

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,495
    Likes Received:
    30
    I tend to map a lot out but also have a lot that is planned later and some of it is even impromptu as I write it.
     
  12. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    I have a good idea where I'm going to start and the ending, and some major points along the way to get from the beginning to the end.

    Is it set in stone? No, but it helps me keep on track and moving forward with the story, avoids writing myself into a corner, and also keeps me from suffering from writers block. The plot points are like mile markers and and stops along the way on a trip. I know where I'm writing toward, sometimes the route will change a bit, but with the destinations set, for me, it makes a difference.
     
  13. dizzyspell
    Offline

    dizzyspell Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    When I started writing seriously, I didn't plan at all. The astronomical amount of editing I had to do on that first (still unfinished) manuscript led me to try outlining. Now I write down a few words about what is supposed to happen in each chapter, start writing, then disregard the whole plan and go with my gut.

    My best ideas come to me while I'm in the process of writing. Occasionally, if I feel like I'm getting off track, I'll sit down and re-plan. But then I'll probably ignore that too. :)
     
  14. Jethelin
    Offline

    Jethelin Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    76
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    USA
    I usually plan everything in my head with a few notes written. I will get the beginning on paper and then just go from there. I do tend to make tons of notes, and maybe a tiny outline when ideas come into my head that I will not need until later in my story, but most is made up as I go.
     
  15. Devrokon
    Offline

    Devrokon Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2011
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canada
    I mix everything up. Sometimes I plan, sometimes I don't. Depends on what I'm writing.
     
  16. FoxPaw
    Offline

    FoxPaw Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2011
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have to plan. If I don't, I'll lose interest in the story because I'll get stuck on a part with no plan on how to continue it. I'm currently in the planning stages of a story right now, and I need to work out a lot of the fine details before I can even start a story. I easily get caught up in writer's block so if I don't plan stuff out, I get frustrated with a story and leave it.

    I'm in the sub-plot development stage of my planning. Just need to do that and outline the novel before I can write...
     
  17. Yasin
    Offline

    Yasin Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    Thanks guys. I think I do what a lot of you have said you also do (if that makes sense?). That is, start writing the first chapter to get something down on paper, and then following a very vague plan. I always try to plan, but ALWAYS get stuck on a suitable resolution/ending. I do think it is important to have some idea of where you are going with your story, not that is has to be set in stone by any means.
     
  18. sirkeystone
    Offline

    sirkeystone New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Siloam Springs, Arkansas, United States
    I used to be a "pantser" as Larry Brooks says, but I was always wondering why I was having writers block.
    Since I've been making such intricate plans, when I do finally start writing on the story it flows because I already know where I want to go. But I don't plan my free writing.

    I just sit and blow through what's sitting in my head. If it's decent enough of a premise, I'll come back to it again some other time to plan more into it. If not, it was a good exercise.
     
  19. erik martin
    Offline

    erik martin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    249
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I try to plan all of the main points out before I start. I want to know where I'm going before I start. That being said, if the story turns in an unexpected direction, I'll go with it and see where I wind up.
     
  20. UberNoodle
    Offline

    UberNoodle Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    103
    Likes Received:
    0
    I plan too much, and then either A) I lose interest in the story even before writing a single word (or more than a few scenes), or B) I finish the outline but leave it at that because I'm already 'over it' or have some other idea interfering.

    So I need to plan, but I plan too much most of the time. Be aware of that.
     
  21. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,722
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    This is me, too.

    I have a theory that people LOVE to plan, but they hate to actually write. It's great fun coming up with character profiles, building worlds, drawing maps of worlds, outlining chapters, and so on. But it's all just a way of pretending you're a writer without actually WRITING anything. Nobody wants to read character profiles or chapter outlines. You can't sell such things to publishers. At some point, you actually have to WRITE THE ACTUAL TEXT OF THE STORY.

    To me, planning too much is just an excuse for avoiding the hard work of actually writing.

    "Hi! Are you a writer?"
    "Yes!"
    "I'd love to read your stories."
    "Sorry, I haven't written any yet. But I have a lot planned."
    "You're not a writer. You're a planner."
     
  22. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Maybe that is a good thing though? If you can't stay interested in the story for longer than the time it takes to outline then maybe you would have grown tired of it anyway before finishing it? so this maybe saved you time. or do you think it's the actual outline that makes you tired of it?
    what I'm trying to say is that maybe it's a good way of testing the ideas?
     
  23. Yasin
    Offline

    Yasin Member

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2011
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    UK
    I agree.

    I like to try and get a general beginning middle and end sorted before I take the story too far. Other than that I also think that overplanning restricts you and is a bit of a waste of time.
     
  24. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    The few times I've tried planning things out, I got bored because I just wanted to write the darn story. It's akin to listening to your mother warn you about not drinking, not smoking, being home by such and such a time - and all you want is to get to the dance.
     
  25. Slinkywizard
    Offline

    Slinkywizard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    1
    I couldn't be more in disagreement. I plan everything, and write a lot. Some here seem to be suggesting that if you plan, nothing ever gets written of the actual wordcount. With good planning, I breeze through wordcount because I know where it's all going. It's tortoise and hare. I'll catch up with you any day of the week and I'll have strong characters and strong motivations and dynamic settings and meaningful subtext while most seat-of-pants writers are stuck somewhere in the mire of chapter six trying to remember if those pants are up or down.

    Each to their own; planning is my way and it does not preclude body text wordcount, it just makes it go down faster and easier, like chewing food before you swallow.

    As we all know, if you don't chew your food, you never have a chance to find out what it tastes like and one day... one day it's going to give you heartburn and eviscerate your no-no hole.

    Most of the people I know who don't plan and then go on to decry the planners do so because they have never tried it and aren't in any position to see how much smoother things go as a result. The same can't be said of outliners; most of us struggled through as pantsers 'til we got a grip on planning properly; we know the difference it makes.

    Seat of pants writers also commonly cite the stunting of creativity as the key element in the decision not to plan. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Tolkein planned for years before writing a word of actual prose. Look what came out; a well-developed world that, in spite of being filled with magic, talking trees, we all believe in. If Tolkein hadn't planned I can guarantee none of us would know who the hell Frodo is because he'd still be rubbing his chin and wondering what his thoughts on Gollum are.

    As shadowwalker posted above. It's like being told you can't stay out at the dance all night. She only has 30 years more life experience than you, right? Why should you listen to her? Because she has 30 years more life experience than you. That's exactly why you should listen to her, because she knows that, come 4am, things are going to be messy and you're going to be too sick by that point to clean it up yourself.
     

Share This Page