1. The_Joker

    The_Joker Banned

    Nov 13, 2019
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    How to feel my way in the dark?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The_Joker, Jul 7, 2020.

    So I've managed to hash out the broad direction my serial is going. However I'm mostly going to be winging it to maintain interest and flexibility. Anyone got any recommendations for how many scenes or chapters ahead I should plan? I don't wanna exhaust my energy planning but also don't wanna get stuck and lose momentum too much.
  2. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2020
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    This is really subjective. It depends on who you are as a writer and what you're about. I'll give you my perspective, but you won't necessarily follow that pattern.

    So what I do (sometimes) is to plan a general outline of what I want, up to the point where I'm confident the story will go, usually to a natural starting place where a story would end and a sequel might start. Once I'm not sure, I stop -- although the fact I'm writing an outline will sometimes bring inspiration. Then when I go back and write, I try to catch up to where I have planned. Which is really helpful, because that period of vibrant inspiration doesn't last forever, and having plans makes it easier to find inspiration again.

    Sometimes people get this false idea in their heads that planning ahead means that intuitively writing has to stop. This is not true. After all, your plans are just as concrete as your story is. That is, you can change them at any time. Maybe add another chapter, or change a chapter completely.

    In other words, whatever you do, remember that winging it and planning it are not mutually exclusive.
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  3. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

    Jan 29, 2015
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    New Zealand
    I agree with @GraceLikePain. Everyone is different in their approach, and the only way to know what works for you is to try it out. I was of the opinion that preparing a detailed outline would stifle creative flow, so I didn't do one. I now know that's not true and it was a mistake for me. Book One is all but finished and was done chapter to chapter, even sentence to sentence at times. Which was great for the most part, but also meant lots of re-writes. Book Two will be outlined, but with LOTS of flexibility in mind. IMO a mixture of the two works best. Do an outline so you know where you're headed, but be prepared to make many changes as you go because some (a lot actually) of the best ideas come on the spur of the moment, usually right after a character does something and you think 'oh shit! they should totally do that'.

    Hope that helps :)
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  4. LazyBear

    LazyBear Banned

    Oct 27, 2017
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    Uppsala, Sweden
    I never followed my plan or even my previous draft past three chapters before a new idea stole the spotlight.

    Theme keywords
    To generate plot ideas that are consistent with the book's theme: close your eyes, imagine the world and make a list of evocative words speaking to all senses.
    Example: Misty, Dead, Moss, Rotten, Mutant, Bridge, Dark, Flashlight, Trembling, Dust, Scream...
    As long as the theme is consistent and you don't derail in a quick pace, the reader might forgive a few filler chapters as character introduction.

    If you feel that your improvised writing gets stuck in infinite filler dialogue, plot out some key events that have cause and effect for one or two chapters ahead.
    * MC finds item X
    * MC uses item X and finds person Y
    * Person Y tells about location Z

    Write fast without being too picky, but avoid derailing into something you can't get out of.
    To avoid derailing and throwing drafts too often, you can keep it safe using heuristics:
    * Avoid killing main characters in act one. (Unless your story is about ghosts or zombies)
    * Avoid advancing character arcs too quickly. (Don't skip to the whole story for a short satisfaction)
    * Avoid revealing too many mysteries. (You need to keep the reader on edge to find out more)
    * Avoid breaking the theme. (One chapter feeling off can kill the mood)
    * Avoid creating impossible predicaments or too strong enemies. (You will eventually have to find a credible way out of it)
    If you got these checked, move on with your next draft. You will probably not recognize a thing from the first draft when you're done anyway.
    The_Joker likes this.
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

    Dec 24, 2019
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    Way, way out there
    "How to feel my way in the dark?"

    Wave your arms around and walk slowly....
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  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    I'd write the first chapter/serial and go from there. You might find it doesn't work at all... that happens a LOT. Or you might discover a little nugget in the process of writing that will point to more options down the road.

    Over planning, or planning too rigidly, can be like opening a business with an inherently flawed model. By the time you realize it doesn't work, you've already invested too much to change it. Always good to have options and a few flexible paths.

    There was a restaurant that opened up in down once
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  7. lucidink

    lucidink New Member

    Jul 5, 2020
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    I'd start with a general outline and eventually make that outline more detailed to get an idea of what I want to cover in each chapter. I am a planner and I need to know my story well enough before I start writing it. Knowing that I have a good story to write inspires me. However, I wouldn't wait too long to start writing because focusing on too many details at a time can be overwhelming. Put down an outline that you're satisfied with and start writing the first chapter. I'm sure you'll discover things as you write and even get new ideas that will inspire you to change your outline.

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