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  1. Jdeadevil

    Jdeadevil New Member

    Jan 3, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Lancashire, England

    How much planning should I do as a beginner?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jdeadevil, May 3, 2013.

    I'm just wondering. I have the name of my story written down, a paragraph that runs through the vague plot and ending, and now I'm filling the character details. I'm just wondering what else might be best for a beginner like me. I have a rubbish short-term memory, so my main worry is saying something in the story that contradicts either something that happened before in the story or some details in my planning sheets about the characters of whatever. Are there any techniques you guys do that's good for keeping the story details in your head?
  2. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 12, 2013
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    Los Angeles
    My goldfish edits the last chapter before starting a new one, that way he brings himself up to speed :) He also takes little notes of qualities of his characters and has to reread to remind himself over and over, who can fly, who eats frogs etc but invariably writes new stuff that he has to go back and fix.

    Hope this helps
  3. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 27, 2011
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    I don't do much if any planning, so I do find myself re-reading earlier parts to remind me of some details. I would suggest jotting down notes as you go, or just re-reading the previous day's work before starting the new stuff. Or, if outlining/planning works better for you in general, just make the outline more detailed.
  4. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    I don't know if this idea will work for your story, but when I wrote my novel I established a 'timeline.' That is NOT an outline of the plot to come, but more like a diary of stuff that's already happened.

    I created a separate section (in a simple text document) for every year and every month where things happened that related to my story. Then I filled in the 'diary' as I wrote. So the days when people did certain things were recorded, birthdates, names, etc.

    It only takes a few seconds to update the timeline after every writing session, and it really keeps your story organised. If you're worried about contradicting yourself, or having two things happening at the same time, this will keep you right. Nobody will end up being their own grandpaw, and events will occur at a believable pace.

    It's also got another benefit. If you're writing around real events, and want to stay true to what 'really happened,' then you can also fill in when the real events occurred. That way, if you want a character to do something on the day Lincoln was shot, you will have a record of what day that was. I write the real events in ordinary text, and all the fictitious ones in bold text, so just a quick glance tells me what fits in where.
  5. Garball

    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

    Apr 24, 2013
    Likes Received:
    S'port, LA
    Don't fall in love with your ending. It may change as your characters grow.

    I did make an outline of my story, expanded upon that, and expanded upon that. I did not detail my last couple of chapters. I found the outline method does work because it is easy for me to brainstorm and look up the past at a glance. My MC did end up surprising me at the end. He did not do what I thought he was going to.
  6. Thornesque

    Thornesque Contributing Member

    Jul 31, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Michigan, USA
    As I've said (numerous times) before: the writing process is going to be different for each and every one of us. If what you have now is all that you think you need to get going, then just start writing. If you don't think you have enough information to get going, then plan a little more. And if that's not enough, plan a little more. And if that's not enough... You see where I'm going. But, again, something I've said before: you can always plan more, never less. So, if you're just trying to figure out what kind of planning you, as a writer, need to do, you need to take it in small increments. Don't make a huge, in-depth outline of the chapter right of the bat, because that can seriously kill your writing. For some writers, this is like writing the book itself, and there's no point in writing it anymore.

    As far as remembering things... For some people, writing down facts is fine, for others it's really, really not. But always keep in mind: if there are inconsistencies in your story when you write it, they can always be edited later so that they work. Usually, when you end up changing a detail in the story, it's because what you had before wasn't working for you; wasn't what you really wanted for your character. In the first chapter of one of my books, I describe my character as being a tall, strongly-built female that beats up all the guys. In the fifth chapter, she became this tiny little girl that has a fiery personality to make up for her lack of strength. Because, as I was writing, this is what I found fit my character better - that she craved strength, not that she had it. And, yes, in this case, that changed the entire course of the novel. And that's okay. Because when (if) I go back and edit the book, I can just change the description in Chapter 1 so that it works with what I have.

    My Composition Professor always gives us advice when it comes to writing essays, which I think is fairly close to how it is with story writing: he always says that you should skip writing the Introduction to your essay, and work on the main body, first. Because, when you first start your essay, you may have a general idea of what you're saying, but what you're saying can gradually change. By the end of the essay, your focus shifts, and your thesis is different. And, instead of going back and re-doing your Introduction, you might as well wait until the end, and write it at the same time that you write your conclusion.

    This, in my opinion, applies to story-writing, as well. Not so much in that you should skip the beginning of the story you're writing, but that you shouldn't worry so much about making sure it's going to connect to the end of the story. Because that doesn't matter. When you first start writing the story, you know what you want to happen. You don't know how it will actually happen, though. That only comes through the writing of the story.

    At any rate: try different things. Keep adding different techniques in until you find the ones that work best for you.

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