1. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Planning?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hughesj, Jul 20, 2013.

    Hi everyone,

    I have always tried to work out whether planning is necessary or not. I always seem to stray off the plan and I think it is a bit of a waste of time. The problem is that everyone says that planning is extremely important and I don't know if my writing is suffering from the lack of a plan.

    What are your thoughts?

    Jason
     
  2. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I don't plan. Often enough the end of my novel comes as a surprise to me. But everyone's different. Some people need to plot, plan and world build in advance. Me I do it all as I go. At the end of the day you just have to do what works for you.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Jason, check out the "What's your writing Process?" sticky thread in this section.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Even though I plan a little, as Greg said, the ending comes as a surprise to me. I have the characters fleshed out and a page-or-so synopsis, but other than that it's what my characters feel like doing, and I make sure they don't stray away from the storyline too much. Take most things you hear from writers with a pinch of salt; every writer plans and writes differently, meaning opinions also vary. Do what you feel comfortable doing. :)
     
  5. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    I'm exactly the same, I get an idea, start writing and hope I get somewhere. If I don't, I put the story away somewhere and look for a new idea. I just think maybe the reason I have so many unfinished stories is because I don't plan? And if I did plan, how do you stick to it?
     
  6. Countess Word
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    Countess Word New Member

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    I need to plan and write down notes, otherwise I'd forget half the stuff I wanted to happen in my stories! I also tend to write extremely abridged versions of my novels (he does that, she does this, they board a train and meet this person etc.), that way I don't have to worry about forgetting scenes and such!
     
  7. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    My general writing process is to find an idea, start writing and see where it goes. My current story is completely off track to what I originally planned. It started out as someone trying to get their pilot license and having distractions that they needed to fight. It's turned into a terrorist getting revenge on the people who killed his father.

    Characters also start out as a name and generally a face. I let them flesh themselves out. No planning whatsoever apart from the fact that I usually get a picture of someone who looks like my character.
     
  8. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Many people (including myself) get extremely excited when they get an idea for a story, and almost immediately want to start writing. Over the course of a few years, I have managed to train myself not to do that so much, and try to let the idea simmer in my head for a couple of weeks to a month. Ask questions like: will this idea prove difficult to write, and if so, how do I write it well? Are there going to be any particular themes or concepts in the book that will be hard to explain, and if so, how do I explain it clearly? Think about the characters you want to use, then expand upon the idea.

    I think if you are struggling to finish projects, perhaps it's because you don't know where it's going. This can be fine if you're writing for a laugh or if it's an excercise, but otherwise you may need a synopsis. For my first novel, which I wrote just under two years ago, I used the Snowflake Method (http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/), but adapted it to my liking. Have a read and see if it might help you. You don't have to write a two pages of synopsis and full character charts like the man says you should; suit it to your needs. I believe I stopped once I had a page-long synopsis, but you can stop whenever you think you're a bit more ready with your idea than you were when you first thought of it. I don't use the method anymore as I've developed my own style of planning, but that's precisely the point: try new ideas until you find one you like and use well, then hone it so you like it even more.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  9. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    Thank you, I will definitely have a read of that. As for letting my idea simmer, I do think about it and do research. I researched the whole process for getting a private pilot's license and somehow the whole thing changed. I have NO idea how. I guess it's just one of the many joys (or frustrations) of our hobby :)
     
  10. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    Instead of planning I write down a list of goals and pin them on the wall.
     
  11. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    That article is REALLY helpful. I can see exactly how this can help me and what I can do to make this work for me.

    THANK YOU for linking me to it.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'everyone' does NOT say it's important to plan before writing...

    i, for one, don't... nor do i do it, unless/until what i'm writing is/becomes so complex i need to do at least a skeleton outline to avoid getting tangled up in changing time lines or subplots...

    it's entirely a personal matter and you'll find writers who plan everything they write down to the tiniest detail and writers who write 'by the seat of their pants' from word one to 'finis'...

    find a method that works best for you and don't worry about what anyone else does...
     
  13. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Planning is important for those it works for. It's a pain in the tush for those it doesn't. And there are various levels between "total" planning and "Let 'er rip!". Try different things and use whatever you like and lets you finish the story.
     
  14. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    i sometimes plan, if there is a key part i want to put in, i may plan something to be able to get me there, but not exactly the content, i mean, like the rest, normally i dont plan, its not my nature to, especially with something like this that relies on creativity
     
  15. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Try turning the radio off, when you drive. Just think about the next scene in your story. When you wake up in the middle of the night, put yourself back to sleep by thinking about the next scene. Go as far ahead as you want, in the story. When you get to sit down and start writing, you will be amazed at how fast it all pours out. Due to planning! :)
     
  16. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    I suggest everyone go and read the above article. Especially the parts about character development. I think that character development is important and needs to be planned for
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really don't think character development *needs* to be planned for. Nothing about my characters is planned, other than possibly their names and the overall "thing" that's going to happen to them - and those are both subject to change as the story gets written. My characters develop for me just like they do for the reader - as the story progresses.
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I tend not to worry about character development much because, as I've said before in this forum, I usually see my characters in a flash - they come to me pretty much whole and ready to go. That may be the only gift I have as a writer.

    The few times I don't know the character well enough to start the story with him, I just write a few scenes involving him. These scenes are just there to help me get to know the character better - they are not intended to be part of the finished story (though sometimes they do find their way in!).

    I have no use for "character sheets." I don't feel that knowing trivia like where the character went to school or what he eats for breakfast or what his first pet's name was are in any way helpful to me or relevant to the story.
     
  19. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I do wonder who this "everyone" is. Everyone certainly does not say this. It's true the professionals do tend to advise that people plan, and I believe many pro writers do plan. Planning has its advantages, no doubt. For myself, a skeleton plans helps because I get the most stuck when I don't know what I'm writing.

    But there're writers aplenty out there who don't plan and it's fine. The truth is, you're always gonna go back and edit it, rewrite it half a dozen times before it's polished. Planning means there's less of a risk of writing things you'll end up cutting out later, but you still cut all the same, it's not like it eliminates it. Sometimes planning can stifle your story because you worry too much about sticking with the plan and stop trusting your gut. If you don't plan, it's gonna be quite rough and might meander a lot, it might mean it'll take twice as long to finish, it might mean chopping off loads and loads more chapters than if you had planned - but in the end, it's all the same. Planning gives you a better sense of direction, and it helps me, but not everyone needs that.

    In the end, plan or no plan, you'll still have to rewrite and polish.

    The one done without a plan, for beginner writers, might take more polishing, but the only difference really is the time that it takes to finish. The final product will be the same - a blimming good book :)
     
  20. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure that's even different, or if time has anything to do with planning or not planning. Some writers take more time than others, just as some stories by the same author do.
     
  21. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This reminded me of a point I wanted to make. This may sound cynical, but it's true: There is now an industry devoted to teaching people how to write fiction. Classes are offered at universities, colleges, and online, private mentoring is available, magazines are published about writing, and literally hundreds of books have been written on how to write, and more are coming out all the time.

    The problem for this industry is that writing really isn't that complicated. Doing it well involves talent and a high degree of skill, but the principles are simple. It could be that "everyone" says you should plan because that gives them something to talk about - something to teach. Writing "gurus" make planning look intimidating, and that way they justify charging novices money for their lessons and books. If they told everyone the truth - that planning isn't really necessary, and even if you feel you want to do it, you can do it any way you want - they'd be putting themselves out of a job.

    Watch out for people who say you "must" plan - they're probably trying to sell you something.
     
  22. hughesj
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    hughesj Member

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    okay, by 'everyone' i meant that *most* people suggest you plan. and also, with the character planning, I think it is useful for keeping your characters in character when they are speaking. I find writing hard facts down helps me remember things. I guess it really does just come down to you and what you like best
     
  23. Southpaw2380
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    Southpaw2380 Member

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    I guess I take the middle route on planning. While I have endless pages of notes and scene outlines, rarely do I know where, if at all, they'll fit in my story. I've developed entire characters only to realize that they just didn't fit the current story. I've also made charts, timelines, and graphs to help me hash out my ideas, however I've also found myself straying from these very things that I make to keep me in line. I think planning is useful, but for me I use it more as a direction rather than a path.

    ~~SP
     
  24. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My first couple of novel attempts involved no planning at all. My next couple involved some planning. My current project, a historical, has been planned out extensively. I think the key is to keep your plans flexible, because new ideas will occur to you as you write. My plan has changed several times.
     

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