1. Musa
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    Musa New Member

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    To plan or not to plan?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Musa, Aug 1, 2010.

    How much of your story do you plan before sitting down to actually write it?
     
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually try and have some sort of begining, a couple characters worked out(well a small image of them atleast) and hopefully some sort of end.

    Then I usually think over it a bit and when I feel up to it I start writing. lol
     
  3. natsuki
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    natsuki Active Member

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    I like to plan the whole story, but I am still trying to write the first draft of my first novel, so I can't really say if my method is successful...

    Anyway, I can't complain until now. I find that having all the scenes planned helps me to keep focused and on track.
     
  4. darleeeeeeen
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    darleeeeeeen New Member

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    ....
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not quite as true as you may think. There is such a thing as overplanning, although how much planning is too much planning varies from writer to writer.

    I prefer to plan the overall course of te storyine in my head, but I leave the fine details to develop as I write, for maximum flexibility. No matter how much planning you do, there will be course changes and adjustments as you write. Those course changes often require fine details that may have been preplanned to be scrapped.
     
  6. Imo
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    Imo Member

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    I prefer to have a plot in mind before I start and a rough sequence of scenes needed to take me from the beginning to the end. Although this skeleton often gets beefed up with additional plots and scenes, the core usually remains the same once I sit down to write.
     
  7. Cynglen
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    Cynglen Senior Member

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    I've never tried to write a full novel, but the short stories I've written are mostly spur-of-the-moment inspirations. I just sit down on my computer and type them out while the idea is still fresh, and then go back to them a day or two later and make sure everything flows as some sort of plot line. If I try to plan ahead too much I get bogged down in trying to work out all the connections and my inspiration quickly burns out.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's very much a personal preference/need... some successful authors are uber-planners, while other write 'by the seat of their pants'...

    the nature of the work can also be a factor, since an historical novel, or a very involved family saga will need a lot more planning, than a much simpler plot-driven story... the latter most often evolving as they're written, not needing any advance planning...
     
  9. Loaded-Dice
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    Loaded-Dice Member

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    One point I'd like to know about too, elements such as 'traitors' and items that become apparent to the reader later.

    Do you plan them out in advance and position them accordingly, maybe leaving subtle clues to their importance throughout the story before finally unveiling them at a later point

    or

    Write freeflow and when you need such a traitor, pick a character who is most likely to be 'that' guy, and suprise yourself as much as your audience.

    If it's the second option, would you go back through the story and add in clues?

    Obviously the novel needs to be checked to make sure that the lieutenant actually was in a position to shoot the presidents daughter on Tuesday and not 5000 lightyears away on another planet.
     
  10. jwilder
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    jwilder Member

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    I just wrote a scene yesterday for a my current mystery novel, and after I was done I re-read it and said "Oh! He's the bad guy! That totally works!" I surprised myself with this discovery, and when I looked back at the other scenes I'd already written I realized I'd already written in clues and indicators pointing to this character as the villain, but I hadn't tied it all together until I introduced the character to my MC. Then everything fell into place. It was a pleasant surprise.

    I rarely plan my plots before writing. I just get an idea and start writing. Once I've spit up that first round of imagery onto the page, I start filling in the plot and sort of devising a general idea of how I want things to go. A useless enterprise, really, because I've yet to ever write a story that adheres to the outlines I write. :) I mostly keep the outlines as possible "what if's" and use them as jump-starting points when I'm not sure where I want the plot to go.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been known delete more than half a novel and rewrite it to fit in a new character or idea. I prefer that to planning, it then works it in better. I sometimes write a list of events and I for a final draft I keep a timeline but that is the extent of my planning.

    For my historical fiction I've just been keeping the necessary facts written down. It takes more research but I don#t actually plan the story on paper.
     
  12. Taylor Nicole
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    Taylor Nicole Contributing Member

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    I never plan my stories...i tried once and somehow confused myself. I usually just start with an idea, come up with an ending and fill in the rest :]
     
  13. thinking
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    thinking Member

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    Do I plan? In a word: yes.

    I brainstorm a lot, writing bulleted versions of plots. Once I choose one, I spend a loooooong time choosing names and general information.

    I write a plot synopsis, starting with a sentence and working up to a few-page summary of the novel from start to finish, with every major plot point pinned down.

    Then come character bios. I write down basics about all the characters, as well as how they will change and what they will learn. I do this for most of the minor characters I foresee as well.

    After that, I break the synopsis into chapters and create a spreadsheet with all the major "things" that have to happen in each chapter. I decide how long I want my piece to be (my current novel is 80,000 words, for example.) As I go, I give each chapter and each plot point in my spreadsheet an approximate expected word count.

    Then I draw maps and whatever else I feel needs a visual component. I may find images that remind me of the characters or just draw them myself. After that's done, it's on to the writing!

    Usually about halfway through the novel, I sit down and really think about what I'm writing. I try and figure out on paper what exactly I'm "trying to say." This consists of pages and pages of handwritten notes about my characters and (usually) the ethical implications of their actions. I try to figure out what I really mean when I use certain terms, and why all the characters act the way they do. Once this is done, I continue writing.

    I realize my style is a lot more rigid than a lot of other people's, but it seems to be what it takes for me to get anywhere with my writing. I've tried writing "by the seat of my pants," and I just get lost, I don't know where I'm going, and usually my desire to write flickers out about halfway through.

    I think part of my problem is that I'm a really DISorganized person. Unless I plan out what I'm going to say, I get lost, I forget what I've already said, I forget the points I'm trying to make, so on and so forth.

    If you are an organized person, this method may not work for you. For some people, lots of planning just sucks the life out of their writing. Contrary to appearances, I think I've found a method that has just enough rigidity to it that I can get where I need to go.

    I hope that helped.
     
  14. Ragdoll
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    To me, the plot just pops into my head by itself. Just out of nowhere, I get a really good idea, and I think about it for a little while, from beginning to end. At the planning stage I kinda just have a vague idea on how the story's gonna go, but the main happenings are pretty clear to me. And when I start writing, I add a lot of details, and sometimes I have to change stuff I hadn't thought about. I actually don't think I plan my stories either too much or too little. =)
     
  15. chinaski
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    chinaski New Member

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    I have spent the majority of my writing life attempting to map out the structure of the story prior to putting anything on paper. My most recent effort is a novel which I started while sitting at my desk at work, in between client reports, the cursor blinking on a blank word document. I typed a line, then another and a month later and I'm 300 pages in. This is the smoothest it has ever come to me and the most enjoyable experience thus far.
     
  16. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    I plan as much as possible and then adjust as necessary while things occur to me in the flow.
     
  17. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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  18. Zane
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    Zane Contributing Member

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    I don´t really like planning my stories. It happens on some really rare ocasions though.

    Usually, before I start writing, the only thing that I always plan, is what´s the main character like, and what will be the main plot.

    All the rest, about how the character will stand for his/hers challenges, and what other characters will appear later on the story, it´s just keep writing, and waiting for the idea to come to me, like if the character trully existed, and wanted to be part of my story, and I was just the guy that she/he encharges of writing.

    One time, when I started writing, I wanted to see wich way worked better for me, and by trying to plan the whole story and characters, before I even start writing, just ruins all the fun, and wastes some of my time.
     
  19. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    That varies each time but mostly I write a summary which I expand again and again until I have separate parts which I write into a normal story. For example, I create chapters, write their titles and then a short description of what's in them. After that is done I begin to write right under the chapter's title while leaving the description below it to always check if I stick to it. Once the chapter is done I erase the description and go for the next one.
    So yeah, I mostly plan but sometimes I just stitch things together and it works well for me. For a good challenge it's worth to just make the beginning and start writing without a plan to see where it goes.
     
  20. constant scribbler
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    constant scribbler Member

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    I get the majority of my characters created first. They help drive the plot forward. I typically write without much planning the plot. I know point A and Z and maybe a few in between but mostly I just let the story goes where it wants to. This does make a lot of editing but it works for me.
     
  21. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    I don't really plan too much, I get this general idea in my head, throw it around in my head, imagine characters, do some research (if necessary), and I write bullet points on what major things I want to happen in my story, then a a couple of minor sub plots, then I think of what I want my readers to get out of it (or themes), and then I write it. Usually I like to listen to classical music or scores from movie soundtracks to inspire me, but surprisingly, I find that I've been doing my better writing in my local bookshop, you get ideas for characters but people watching and it's peaceful even though there's a bunch of chatter, I somehow clear it out. But anyways, I'm rambling. To say I plan: yes, I do, but not to much that I'm limiting myself. oh, and I always do editing, I usually rewrite the first time, then go in, add a little detail, fix awkward sentences, etc.
     
  22. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    You're lucky you have a bookstore like that. It never struck me to write anything in a bookstore, really.
     
  23. litchickuk
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    litchickuk Member

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    sometimes I get bored of an idea if I spend too much time planning it. I like to roughly have an idea of where im heading, but its not very far ahead. I think if you plan, it should be loose because what you liked one day as an idea, you might not like the next. A character profile is usually helpful when I write but like a plan, its easily amended as I go forward - or sometimes back!
     
  24. litchickuk
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    litchickuk Member

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    Also if I plan too much, I tend to overthink things which means I get too bogged down in details and logistics than the story
     
  25. L. Ai
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    L. Ai Member

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    I usually start with how I want my story to end. From there I work backwards; plotting out what led up to this. Once I get my plot down (generally just a quick paragraph) I create a story skeleton out of important events I need to have happen. Then I just brainstorm notes of things I want to write so I have a place to add my random ideas so I don't forget them. Then I just kinda freewrite, starting at the beginning and adding things in- like making story soup. Once I'm at the end, I go back and clean up; getting rid of unnecessary drivel the story doesn't need and I don't like (because when I write; I write EVERYTHING. Every detail I can think of. Because you never know what might turn out to be really important.) And swap around scenes that maybe work better in other places.

    Then I shove it in a box under my desk and go back to harassing my doctor for my anxiety meds so maybe someday I'll be brave enough to try getting published.
     

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