1. dtg108
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    dtg108 New Member

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    Planning before writing?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by dtg108, Mar 29, 2013.

    So I've,always had problems staying inspired, and i'm really starting to grow on my story. I'm curious, how much planning should be done before writing?
     
  2. idle
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    idle Active Member

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    That depends on the writer. Some plan extensively, some hardly at all, others start when they have a general idea of the story, setting and characters. It's up to you, really, what works best for you.

    If you don't plan ahead, you risk incostintency, plot holes and getting lost not knowing where to go next. It will need careful revising and editing later (well, those will be needed anyway, with any approach).

    If you plan too much, you might waste your time on something that will change at the moment you start writing, or you might lose interest because you feel the story has already been told.

    Try various approaches and find out which one suits you.
     
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Basically agree. Some people plan a lot, others just write the story as it happens. Some edit as they go, some finish it all and then go back to edit. Try different things and see what works best for you and that particular story. The next story you write may need a different approach. Flexibility, thy name is Author.
     
  4. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    If you aren't sure yet, start with the minimum amount of planning and, if you have a hard staying inspired or writing with that, do a little more planning. Keep adding small increments until you have as much as you're comfortable with. It's easy to plan your novel more; it's near impossible to go back and forget your planning if it's hindering your process.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    only as much as is needed for each thing you write...

    there is no magic formula, no right or wrong amount...

    the most common problem i see in new writers re planning, is doing too much... not too little...
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    For me, planning the basic story line is important, knowing how I want my main characters to develop. But it is also important not to overplan. You need to leave room for new ideas to occur, because they will. As you work with your characters, you will discover details and nuances that will not have occurred to you at first blush, and these are often fertile ground for subplots and twists to your original story idea.

    What I do not recommend is starting off with only a basic idea and "writing to see where the story goes". Having written four novels that way and gotten zero published, my experience is that the stories go nowhere. YMMV.
     
  7. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    I always plan out my writing projects.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course, the method used to write novels has very little to do with whether or not they're publishable when completed. I doubt the publishers knew you didn't have a developed plan when you started those novels. If anyone had recommended I do any planning when I first started writing, I would have died on the vine as an author. Nothing kills interest for me more than knowing what's coming.
     
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  9. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    This particular issue is one of those things that varies from writer to writer. I make a (loose) chapter outline of the main things that I want to happen during each chapter that I can follow. Smaller details and subplots can develop as they will, but I know what I want to happen with the main plot of the chapter. However, I have a friend that has an in-depth idea of various different actions that need to happen in her story, but she doesn't know exactly when those things will occur. And I have yet another friend that says "This is the beginning of the main plot and this is the end of it." Everything else happens as it happens.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It is, of course, a matter of individual preference. But for me, looking back at my first four projects, I am convinced that better planning would have led to a tighter plot, a better story, and possibly a publishable work.
     
  11. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And why can't you look at those works as being really detailed outlines and go through and insert a coherent plot-line...or, cut them up and paste them onto a coherent plot-line...?
     
  12. Simmy1993
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    Simmy1993 Member

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    I can only share my faults in the hopes that you don't succumb to my wiley ways.

    Planning is a great thing, especially if you have plot ideas, however there -is- such thing as too much planning. If you feel passionate then for goodness sake start writing! Get those ideas down and hit the ground running. I once was very passionate about an idea and spent a week planning it, by the end of that time I had every character planned to a t, however i'd also lost all passion for the story because of the amount of time i'd spent planning.
     
  13. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    If words are coming, pour it out IMMEDIATELY. It could become the basis of all the planning you are going to do for your novel, short story whatever. Point is, don't let your moment of inspiration go waste.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Every writer is different in this regard. Some do better with meticulous pre-planning of every minute detail, others prefer to start writing cold and let the story grow dynamically.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this may be the first time i've ever had to disagree with you, ed...

    just because that was your experience does not mean the method won't work for others... it could be that it was only the quality of your earlier writing that kept them from interesting publishers, not the story... or just that you can't develop a story well that way, which doesn't mean no one else can, either...

    so, saying you 'do not recommend' it may deter new writers who are able to do so successfully from trying it...
     
  16. cherryisdead
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    cherryisdead New Member

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    What I personally do is write down a very blunt outline, so I can remember story plot points, character traits, etc. as they come to me so I don't forget about them. Then while I'm writing and I'm stuck, I'll refer back to this outline and see if a point inspires me to continue where I left off or continue somewhere else.
     
  17. ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes
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    ChrystinaTrulove-Reyes Member

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    My suggestion is to try it and see what happens. Maybe try with a short story that you have been toying with for a bit, or just create a potential idea and see if you can add points that will help the resolution. One thing that I do, is that I keep key points written on a vary rough story sketch (in pencil). Usually the points are a very simple sentence stating what I want to happen at that point in the story, like:

    Introduce Renee
    Renee meets John and sparks fly.
    John sees Renee with Rick and thinks they are an item.
    Renee notices John distancing himself.

    Etc. Then if the story changes or if I want to change a point, I simply erase it and change the note. The first story I wrote was a fanfiction and I didn't use a plot sketch. The second story, a sequel to the first, I tried the free-style plot sketch and I think that it worked better than when I didn't use one. So try it and see what happens. Maybe it will work better for you, maybe not. Just keep in mind not every published writer uses a sketch, nor does every writer write free-style. Just try to find something that works for you. Good luck.

    Cat
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, I could. But I don't see a novel as particularly conducive to cutting and pasting. There are times when it works, but not when the structure of the story is inherently flawed.

    In the case of my very first novel, I had no story line at all at the start. I simply started writing about two characters. I started at a point in the 1920s and began writing them forward, sketching out their lives. 400,000 words later, I had lots of stuff covering two generations and many ideas that may someday be crafted into a story, but I did not have a well-structured novel. For one thing, it was far too episodic. If I were to go back and try it again, I would most likely start over, using what I have already written as a source for what I know about the characters as people, but I would start from scratch in putting together a storyline.

    The other novels all have promise. The stories are tight enough that they would lend themselves to a proper outline, which, once done, would still require some significant rewriting. I have not ruled it out, especially with one in particular, the story of a young priest. But for now, I prefer to take my current project from start to finish.

    @Maia - that's why I said "YMMV". I realize that this is a very individual choice, and all I am saying is that, based on my own experience, I, myself, could not recommend "writing where the story goes" as a method.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    uh, where did you say that and what the heck does it mean? [you're forgetting that i'm an old broad! :confused:]
     
  20. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I'm seventeen and I don't know what that means. Stop being so ageist! (kidding)
     
  21. Thornesque
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    Thornesque Contributing Member

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    It stands for "Your Mileage My Vary" and is used as a way of saying that you could get varied results from trying it. Like saying "Results my vary." And he said it at the very end of his post.
     

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