1. PhilipJLeae

    PhilipJLeae New Member

    Dec 31, 2012
    Likes Received:

    Need help with planning

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by PhilipJLeae, Jan 31, 2013.

    Hey, so, I'm pretty sure this goes in Character development. I'm doing a re-write on a story I did when I was younger. Younger, as in really really young. I've decided to map out the characters first and I was wondering a few things.
    1) Is it better to map out (Plan, brainstorm, ect.) the actual story first?
    2) Is this (will put the basic structure of my first character's planning below) a good way to plan?

    A little quick backstory, so this'll make a bit more sense. I've changed the make-up of a vampire for this. There are five stages, Human, Apprentice, Full-Blood, Lord, and Rebirth. Vampires don't immediately burn up in the sun. When they enter Apprenticeship, they grow weaker in the sun. Full-Bloods can stay in the sun for a few hours. Lords can stay in the sun for a few minutes. As Full-Bloods become stronger they can stay longer.

    First Name: Kaim
    Last Name: N/A
    Race (There are more than just vampires): Vampire
    Current Stage: Full-Blood
    Lives (If they've gone through a rebirth it's higher than one): 1
    Bio: A boastful young man thrown into prison and forced to participate in gladiator matches. He slashed and bashed his way to fame and was soon released, just to become a professional gladiator. Shortly after he was turned into a vampire-apprentice by Eve, mother of all creatures of the night (vampires). He was sent to fall off of the world, landing at, what is now known as, The United States of America.
    An old Native American Chief welcomed him into their tribe. He spent two years, hunting with them and learning their ways. Eve arrived with a troupe of werewolves and vampires after.
    The tribe was assaulted for three days and nights before falling in battle. After defeating the Chief, Eve met Kaim in battle, who managed to gain the upper-hand, forcing the remaining attackers to retreat.
    Obeying the Chief's last request, Kaim drank the blood of the dying man, absorbing a small amount of his soul. After burying all of the fallen tribe and performing final rights for them, Kaim began walking. Weakened by the sun, days later, the young Apprentice, on the brink of becoming a Full-Blood, crawled into a small cave.
    He emerged four months later, a full-blood. He soon found out a war had broken out between vampires trying to conquer the Native's land.

    I'm going to cut it there, but it goes on, bringing it to just before the book begins.
    I'm not looking for tips on the choppy story in the bio, this is just for my reference. I'm just wondering if this is a good way to plan. Any help is greatly, appreciated.
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Near Los Angeles
    There are almost as many answers to this question as there are writers. Some plan everything - plot, characters, themes - right down to the last detail and produce massive outlines and heaps of character sheets. Others just take a few notes now and again whenever an idea strikes them. Others (including me) don't really plan at all, starting with only a vague idea and preferring to discover the particulars of our stories as we write them.

    There is no one right method. Or, to put it another way, the right method is the one that works best for you. Knowing which method that is only takes a little experience. Try a story or two and see what feels good to you.

    BTW, I like your idea. I'm usually bored by vampire stories because there are so many of them around, but the Native American angle you're introducing is interesting. Good luck!
  3. jazzabel

    jazzabel Contributor Contributor

    Jan 5, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I really like the idea. As for actually writing it in novel form, that's a matter of technique. Personally, I outline everything the way minstrel described. Once I have the first act and half of the second, and a bit of the ending worked out scene by scene, I start writing. I leave the gap in the outline, just with one idea for a scene, and work it out aft I write up to that point. That allows me fresh thinking about the part that needs a good kick because this is where novels tend to sag, imo.
  4. BitPoet

    BitPoet New Member

    Dec 22, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Southern Germany
    Like jazzabel and minstrel already wrote, everyone has their own way of planning, and you should try to see what works best for you. They are both (like myself) probably character based writers, so plot for them grows naturally from the interactions of the characters. If you're a plot based writer you might find it easier to shape out a more detailed plot and see what your characters can do to reach those twists and turns that drive the story while you write.

    I've lately toyed around with different approaches and found that, while shaping out a completely detailed plot line is still too much, I can improve my writing and speed by fleshing out the characters' personalities (introverted vs. outgoing, compassionate vs. judgemental, organized vs. spontaneous etc.) and their major fears and desires, then nailing down important conflicts, twists and scenes I want in the story. This way I always have a crutch to lead me towards the ending. When I'm in need of plot development, I can have my characters interact and tread on each other's toes, which will usually give the plot a new opening, and when my characters become boring I can throw in a plot twist and see how my characters cope with that. Though plotting in advance will always be a lot harder for me than coming up with believable characters, it has become an invaluable tool.
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I believe planning is better than not planning - both ways can lead to a finished manuscript, and a good one too, but if you have it planned, you avoid taking yourself in circles and then needing to delete like 30,000 words because you realised the book isn't going anywhere... I deleted something like 80,000 words personally because I didn't plan, so I'm biased lol. Of course, you do still end up deleting a good 50,000 words even when you do plan - the advantage I've found with planning is that, even when you do delete things, you feel like you can still finish because you know where you're going, and it's much easier to see if a scene works in your novel or not, if it's needed or not, because you know where it should lead to.

    Another thing I learned through trial and error is that you should have a concrete idea of the way your world works before you start writing. I'm still deleting whole chapters because I hadn't planned my world properly, even though I'd planned the story, and now there're plot flaws and logical flaws everywhere :(

    As for how to plan - I would do the following:

    1) Plan your world (where it is, how large, who lives in it, traditions, politics, how they relate, tensions, cultures, history, any magic systems that need to be established and some rules put around it, how the magic system works etc)

    2) Your characters - their parents, how they were raised, at least one or two important memories of their lives that have changed or affected who they are today, any past traumatic experiences you're planning on using for the story

    3a) Goal of antag - how will he achieve this?

    3b) Goal of story/protag - and how is he/she gonna resolve this? This will help you get to an ending.

    4) Have an ending before you write - this helps direct the entire novel and in my experience has been the most important of all. My ending was the only thing that did not change throughout the course of 3 rewrites, and it gives the story and characters an anchor, which helps ensures your MS will finish.

    5a) Now you can plan your story, the plot, obstacles, all that malarky :D

    5b) From this, you should start developing your subplots. All subplots should be branches out of the main plot, and eventually the subplots should go back to adding something to the main plot and thus moving the story forward. These subplots will essentially be the middle of your book. Each subplot should have something small but important at stake.

    6) I would encourage you to try and device a chapter-by-chapter plan - what is the cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter and how do they accumulate to build to the final climax?

    7) Now write a synopsis to get an overview. This is your roadmap, but it is not a dead roadmap - you CAN deviate. The only thing that should remain unchanged is the ending in my opinion. Have some fun.

    8) Yay, now you can get writing :D

    The above is just what I've decided upon based on: 1. several failed attempts at writing a manuscript, 2. various pieces of advice from reputable writing sites (don't ask me which, cus I don't remember) and 3. a dose of personal opinions and preferences.

    Hope it helps. Don't take it as law - it's just one way of doing it. For me, I don't get writer's block because of perfectionism - I am quite confident with my writing ability, but I do get blocks if I don't know what to write. That's the biggest killer for me - not knowing what to write, not knowing how things work and thus I am unable to believe in my own story, thinking it all sounds really lame. So for me, planning in detail would be extremely helpful. Not all writers are this way.

    Anyway, good luck!

Share This Page