1. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    Write as you go or plan ahead first?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nobody Important, Apr 8, 2009.

    What do you think is the best plan? Do you sit down and start writing in sequential order, not knowing about what happens next until you write it? How far ahead in the storyline do you know what will happen, or do you know the whole thing? Do you even jump back and forth in writing scenes?

    I've planned out a lot of stuff that will happen and honestly am jumping back and forth through the book working on certain parts I feel like writing. Do you think I should just go back to the beginning and not jump around?

    Please discuss how you guys do it too.
     
  2. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    i usually write as i go, that saying i have an outline of sorts in my mind. sometimes when i am thinking of creating a story, i think of small lines to put inside and use, then write around them.

    most times i just write as it comes, just live the characters lives, trying to keep the time sequence correct.
     
  3. thegearheart
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    thegearheart Member

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    I love this question, and I think about it pretty constantly when I'm writing. I wrote a huge article on this once, and I'm kind of a mix on the two. I like to have a good idea of where the story COULD go, but I like to put the power in the hands of the characters. I think that, if you really listen to the participants, you can hear them telling you what they want to do.

    I could never jump around in the book, because I'm never 100% certain that all of the characters will be in a certain mindset by the time that they reach a scene. I feel like I would have to force certain things to happen so that stuff I already wrote for later in the book wouldn't be wasted. However, if you CAN do that, I'm envious.

    If you want a more fleshed-out version of my thoughts on the issue, you can check out my article- "The Gearbox: Organic Plot Generation".
     
  4. sophie.
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    sophie. Contributing Member

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    I can't plan - if I write a poem, it starts from something random like a phrase I heard, or something I saw, and kind of just goes from there..not that it always works, often I end up with a load of disjointed rubbish!
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't plan either, unless I am lucky enough to have an ending in mind.
    Most of the time I just write and the ending comes out as I write it and rewrite it.

    I call it the 'Stephen King approach'.
     
  6. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I generally have some idea of where I want the story to start and end, as well as several major events I'd like to happen, before I begin writing. That way, I can make it up as I go while still keeping it the same story I wanted to tell. With that in mind, it can be somewhat awkward to skip around while writing, so I try to stay in chronological order as much as possible. But if you're a planner who knows exactly what needs to happen, then there's nothing wrong with skipping around.
     
  7. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    its strange with poetry i do basically as Sophie mentioned, just let the emotions write the poem, but with stories it requires a story told around the idea, characters fleshed out, settings drawn in. So maybe my mind plans all that, hard to say
     
  8. Kursal
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    Kursal Senior Member

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    It depends on what I'm writing. If it's song lyrics or poems then I tend to just write it as I go. With stories, especially where plot is needed, I have to plan out the plot first. If I don't I will either go off on a tangent or start thinking about the plot. The problem I have is that when I think about plots I feel as if I have told myself the story and so the impetus to write it down has gone.

    What I have started doing is plotting out the main points of the story. I take the beginning middle and end and split them down in to 10 plot points, 20 plot points and another 10 plot points. From there I know where the story is going but I don't have enough to tell me how it's going to get there. Then, the first draft is really me filling in the blanks.

    I completely failed to state my point so have edited this in. You have to do what is right for you. What I have works for me. It probably wouldn't work for the next poster or the previous one because everybody is different. It's probably best to set yourself a target of writing two 500 word stories and try doing each one a different way. See which you prefer. It's really the only way to tell.
     
  9. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    lmao Kursal, i'm glad i'm not the only one that has to edit in their points cause of a ramble.
     
  10. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    If I plan everything out ahead of time, I quickly find myself bored with it when it comes to actual writing. It can also be difficult to actually allow the characters the freedom that their personalities require when I'm focused so hard on advancing the plot in the way I have planned.

    Just writing as I go doesn't work either though. Writing in this manner is good if I want to create a pile of garbage. Sometimes I can sift through said garbage and find a perfectly decent half-eaten apple and a bottle of expired heart medication. With these salvagable gems I may have better luck when I start over on the chapter, but that's hardly an efficient way to go about writing.

    So what I've learned to do is have a plan, but allow myself to deviate from it. On a good day things will circle back around and the goal of the chapter will be completed. If not, well, it just wasn't my day.
     
  11. chandler245
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    chandler245 Banned

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    I just write in back and fourth, I started my book in the middle and wrote chapter 7 chapter one chapter 2 chapter 5 chapter 9 ect I just got done getting 1-7 done in order and now I am editing. So if you have a plan use it, or skip around and edit and it will all fall together. I just got qualified to post a story on the forum, I am excited to hear what you will say.
     
  12. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    You need to know your characters inside and out, and while you dont need to have everything planned, having a sense of direction does help. I write freely so long as I know my characters, but different people have different strategies. Do whats best for you.
     
  13. crimsonrose
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    crimsonrose Senior Member

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    With the story I'm working on now, I just randomly became inspired and started writing out the first chapter. My fiance showed me a picture of the guy he thought had to be the most "beautiful man in the world". When I saw the drawing, I knew there was a character there waiting to be drawn out from the drawing. And then a story formed and I went with it.

    I had a picture in my mind of the girl who is now the main character. I had no idea how the rest of it would pan out. I actually knew how the villain would be before I knew how the main male character would be.

    That first chapter, as it stands now, will be either ereased or completely made over when I begin working on my next draft (we all know it takes alot of drafts to get the stories right).

    I am actually working on the perfect outline NOW, when I'm only chapters away from finishing my rough draft.

    I jsut get my ideas out first, and make sure I have a clear beginning, climax, and ending. Otherwise I never finish it.

    I have a few other story ideas bouncing around in my head, but I won't tend to them until I've finished this story. They'll have they're time later :p With those, I'm simply gathering inspirational pics from the net, and watching movies that I hope will have a similary tone to these stories.
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Here is a link to what I do to come up with a story.

    I always know the beginning, middle, and ending before I start. I know most of big events.

    Here is my method.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I prefer to start out with a general idea of where the story is going to ho, and only knowing my characters as little more than recent acquaintances. I don't use outlines, because I want the story to develop naturally from initial events. I don't define my characters fully from the start, although I have general impressions of how they look and behave, because I want them to be defined by how they react in the story.

    To keep the story moving in the direction I want it to, I create situations for and between characters that push them in a particular direction, not necessarily straight toward the goal.

    Because everything is changing as I proceed, detailed preplanning of the storyline or the characters gets in my way by biasing (and therefore limiting) my thought processes.

    Of course any kind of research I need, I do as early in the process as I can. Research is not as subject to change, so if I take care of it beforehand, I'm not distracted from the creative as I approach the parts of the story that make use of it.

    Other people need a more solidified roadmap before they begin writing. However, it's also possible to use that as an excuse to procrastinate actual writing.

    In the end, every writer will develop his or her own "best practices." Try different approaches until you find one that works well for you, then fine tune it as you develop.
     
  16. keeklies
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    keeklies Member

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    I have to plan out the structure of a novel before writing. Specifically I plan out what will be accomplished in acts one, two and three and what the major plot points/twists will be. I also know the climax of the story and make sure it's huge and shocking. Then I fill in the gaps as I write so that I'm pleasantly surprised with the creativity that happens there.
     
  17. Moira
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    Moira Member

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    To me it just depends. With my first two books (Two seperate series') I just sat down and went with where my head took me. Now with the sequels I'm having to plan them ahead because I know what I want to happen. I just have to figure out how to fit them into the plan. :eek:P
     
  18. Just a small smackerel
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    Just a small smackerel Member

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    I have some basic scenes in my head, but even then it is normally just one event of that scene.

    I like to write as I go, get the create juices flowing. Besides, if I stick myself to a hardcore outline, then there is no room for planting in new ideas that come to mind.

    I tend to have my characters in mind, the major plot, and really, that's about it. I even leave room for my characters to grow in personality and let them write most of their own history. Works best for me.
     
  19. Brightsmiles
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    Brightsmiles Senior Member

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    i'm with keeklies. i jot down a few points that i need to happen within each chapter so i know the plot and subplots will definately keep moving in the direction i want them to, then i can create anything i want, just factoring the needed points in. to me it feels like these points are the skeleton for the chapter, then i can add whatever flesh and features i like to it, making it as unique or uniform a being as i like.
    but then i'm a control freak who's often motivated by anxiety, so doing things this way sates my anxiety of the unknown but still allows me to be creative in what my head will now deem a 'safe, planned environment.' the flipside to that is i'm up a famous creek without a certain famous paddle if my plot is flawed or weak.
    you really do need to find whats right for you though. it sucks that this advice is what you'll get told the most, but its true. and if you're a nutter like me this way works pretty well, though i do admire those who can write any section on a whim.
     
  20. Nobody Important
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    Nobody Important Member

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    Thanks everyone. I learned some things. I especially like the idea of having the characters do what they will do and not force them to do stuff they wouldn't really do if they existed. Like if I already had an even planned out but once I get there it turns out one of my characters wouldn't participate due to something that I added in that would drastically change how they would feel about doing that or something.

    So I will just keep with the main idea of what I want to happen and allow creativeness to draw me off course of it wants and pull me in another direction.

    Once again, thanks for the help.
     
  21. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    I hate having to do major edits, and I love playing around with ideas and possible scenes, so I end up excessively planning everything in advance. Once I have a detailed plan it's much, much easier to churn out the first draft even when I'm not feeling particularly inspired, and things like characters acting naturally can be fixed up and worked out within the plan anyway. Adding and writing the plan I'll jump around with whatever ideas I have, but when it comes to the long haul of writing the first draft I find it easier to write in order so all the minor details match up too.

    Rarely I'll jot down a vague plan for my longer poems, but usually I just write whatever the hell comes to mind as I'm inspired, jumping all over the place, and just try to piece it together properly in the editing, heh. For short, inspired pieces, somehow this works. Although it probably explains all the unfinished poetry I have collecting (mostly) metaphorical dust.
     
  22. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    Mostly I've been writing without planning (much), but I'm experimenting with planning everything before even putting the pen to paper.
     
  23. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Depends on the story I'm writing. Sometimes I'll plan it out fully, other times I'll write as I go. If I get stuck when I'm trying to 'write as I go' I'll start doing a plot outline until I can start writing. With Nano novels, I always write the plot out fully so that I don't lose inspiration halfway through the month. With the novel I'm working on right now, I started out doing the "write as you go" approach but am having difficulty with it so may sit down here soon and actually write out a fully detailed plot outline. I don't do character outlines...but I will do plot points. It's starting to look like I'm going to have to with this one.

    ~Lynn
     
  24. Bongo Mongo
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    I seem to have a rough outline in my head as I write. I usually think of the ideas after I am done writing it, and have to go back and completely re-write it.

    I love how the human mind works.
     
  25. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    Whether it's a poem, short story or novel I have the start, beginning, end and most sub-plots (if applicable) worked out beforehand even if these are in my head. Otherwise, I don't know which way I'm heading so I guess the reader would wonder too! :D
    It works for me. I can't even start until I have all that clear in my head. Oh, and the title.
     

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