?

Do you plan before writing?

  1. Yes, I plan the whole thing, but it can change

  2. Yes, and I stick to it

  3. No, I just write and see what happens

  4. No, but I make notes as I go along

  5. I make a rough plan/idea

Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    What has changed in your stories, and why?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by pamedria, Dec 9, 2016.

    I recently found a very old novel diary (yes I keep diaries for stories) I had when I first start planning my novel. I think going back to the original thoughts of your novel is awesome and can inspire you to write more, or even go back to old ideas. So much of my story has changed since the original plan! One thing that made me giggle, was that one of my countries was named Merde. I soon changed it, after finding out it meant 'shit' in French. I never was good with languages! Another thing was the queen had been behind the whole war...she was a spy! It was like a 'big plot twist' for the story... now, she's pretty much a non-important character. No spy. Going through the diary, it inspired me to write more today, and I was in a bit of a writer's block.
    What things have changed along your writing journey? Why did you make those changes, and how long has it been? I have been writing and planning on and off for four years. Eeek. ...Or have you stuck to the original plan the whole way through? Hopefully, this will get you looking back and get some creative juices flowing, like it did for me. Any Merde scenarios?
     
  2. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    The beginning of the story revolves around a rundown opera house (circa 1790)... while the performance on stage takes place, a botched murder in a balcony suite plays out. My original concept for the stage performance was a horse act of some kind... but when I started sketching the artwork for the poster that will serve as an illustration for the scene, it just wasn't punchy enough, nor did it have any metaphorical value. Did some research and found that Europeans at the time were fascinated by exotic lands and strange newly discovered beasts. That changed my mindset. The stage spectacular became far more outrageous in my mind, a woman on a tightrope singing a torch song... over a pool of crocodiles.

    Since my writing journey is with someone who has far more writing experience than I, the changes are often a result of one or both of us feeling that a scene is being forced. She usually senses when something isn't working before it finally dawns on me, that we need to pull back and focus our energy on the essentials, then play with the details.

    As an artist I use sketches to explore the potential for an idea.
    I suppose for writers you outline a plot. Sometimes when you see a scene materialize on the page, it works, and other times not.

    The original idea...
    [​IMG]


    and the one that works...
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    So the two of you are writing the story? That must be great in terms of ideas and inspiration! Is that your own artwork? I absolutely love it. The idea of planning your story through sketching is great, then leading research and partnership (the other person you write with) to develop your story. The only sketch I have so far with my story is the map of the continent it's set in (not even its world map yet). From the little I know so far though, your story sounds very promising! I would certainly be interested in following it. Great artwork.
     
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  4. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Thanks!
    I'm used to the collaborative process because I've worked in theatre... it's so much more interesting that way. You don't always get what you want, but if you keep egos is check the best ideas usually win out. Though the original concept for the story is mine, most of the best changes have come from the young woman who threw caution to the wind and decided to take me up on my offer to write a story together. You bring up a good topic, because more often than not it's really hard to scrap an idea you had originally fallen in love with. Best way I can describe it is that it's letting the story tell itself. Easier said than done.:)

    I'm still new to creative writing, but one thing I've noticed is that you writers seem to be a solitary lot. I'm not sure that's the best path to take these days.
     
  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't worry, years describes how long many of us have been at it. :)

    Firstly, I lean toward planning, but I don't set my tent up in any declared camp. Regardless, I know where my novel ends, I know where the midpoint is, and I know how they will get to these two landmarks in the tell of the story. What has changed more than anything is who my characters are. In many cases it was a simple matter of bad casting (I tend to think of my characters as actors). More than once a character has turned out to simply not fit the roll. One of my characters was too simple and innocent, so I had to recast her with someone much more savvy and clever. My love interest was boringly perfect in physical aspect, so I changed him for someone much more unassuming (physically) with a better back-story for why the MC falls for him, and that better backstory (don't worry, I don't wax rhapsodic about the backstory) made the love interest a much more interesting person and gave a lot of plot material to move him in the direction I wanted.
     
  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I lean toward pantsing but like wrey my allegiance is a movable feast , as it really depends on what i'm writing and what i need to plan - for my current wip i marked up a couple of maps with landscape changes and features and basically planned 'the world' but my for the actual story i had only the briefest of plans and I didn't stick to that

    I do however tend to tell myself the story in great detail in my head several times over, and sometimes several versionsm before i write it
     
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't say 'changed,' I would say 'developed.' There wasn't a particular point where I reversed course or anything. It's just that some aspects of my story developed into 'more' while some things I'd originally planned got dropped. That's evolution.

    The only thing that really changed was my tone. I realised after I'd finished my first draft, that I'd made the tone too juvenile for an adult story. Reason? I pretended to be 'telling' the story to my sister as I wrote it, but imagined a younger version of herself. The story read very oddly, because it's not in any way a juvenile story. So that required some major tweaking. But it wasn't a story change, just a writing style change. I'll know better next time. 'Tell' the story to an adult sister, not a pre-teen one!
     
  8. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Contributor Contributor

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    Sort of like what @jannert said, I don't like to think of it as my story changing so much as my own emphasis shifting to different parts. I like to imagine the world of my story as similar to ours, in that if you were able to look at the whole thing at once it would just be a humming, buzzing confusion (whose phrase is that? Henry James, I think?). So in order to make a story you have to pick out only certain things to highlight, in a way that's hopefully interesting and meaningful.

    In practical terms, I've found this means changing out my POV characters. One of my original POV characters was a prince in a royal family, but I realized about halfway through my current draft that his POV wasn't really adding anything (especially since his son was also a POV character). So I axed his POV scenes, although he's still a major character of course. Likewise I've since thought of other POVs to add (while trying to avoid head-jumping). That sort of thing.
     
  9. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    That's interesting that your stories haven't changed. For me, I've had complete plot changes, new characters becoming up there with the MC etc. I guess it works if your original plan was already solid enough, mine was way to ambitious for a first novel, so I had to change a lot. I guess it's just about admitting what bits went wrong, but the overall plot and original characters and direction of the story is still pretty much the same. Now I am finally happy with the plan more than half way through writing it, but I am waiting for feedback. It's so hard telling if your own work is good, I find, because obviously through your own eyes you already know what message you're trying to get across, whether that communication worked is another story. Fingers crossed...
     
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  10. Lifeline

    Lifeline North of South. Staff Contributor

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    Pretty much everything changed. From the MCs, to the setting, from fantasy to contemporary, how much farther can you get?
    Yet at the heart it's still the same story I've fallen in love with at the beginning of this tumultuous year, and I am still in love. I'll see it to the end :)
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Just curious. Do you plan your story ahead of time?
     
  12. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    Yes, my novel started four years ago. I had written a short story from a writing prompt, and from that I was inspired and it developed. So I had not planned it to begin with, but once I decided I would adapt it into a book, then I planned. Now that original short story I had written is the ninth chapter I think, with the characters within not even my MCs. So the starting point was not a plan, just creative juices, but once I realised, I always kept planning ahead.

    Since then, a lot more has changed in the novel. I am now happy with my deep plan, and I am 13 chapters in. It's necessary for me to plan because I love weaving in surprises, hint etc., so it is consistent. Just my preference. I have an overall list of each chapter too and what will go in each one. I don't like writing frilly nilly, unless it's at the start of the story when you're merely getting inspiration (so four years ago when I started it).

    I have already got a rough plan for a second separate novel, which I have chosen not to start before I finish this baby. I would feel like I neglected it otherwise!

    So yes, I write to get ideas, but once I have the ideas, I will develop with in my head over time, but always write it on paper, and plan ahead of time. Never concrete though. It's just part of my creative process, but I know many writers who just write, write, write, then edit, edit, edit. I would go mad with that though... I love planning.
     
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  13. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It would seem you and I have very similar processes.

    From a different thread on a similar vain:

     
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  14. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    When I started my Urban Fantasy, I was thinking that my narrator would start out in a police station being interrogated. He and his friends had run out of their car in ski masks with AR-15s to rob a bank, but then a bomb went off in the bank while they were in the parking lot, so they ran off, then my narrator had gotten picked up because he'd already had a record and they figured out pretty quickly that he was one of the guys in masks. While flirting with the guy interrogating him, my narrator argues that obviously he wasn't involved in the bombing itself and that he obviously changed his mind about committing his actual crime before having the chance to do it.



    This opening worked pretty well for my Doctor Who fanfic (interrogation in medias res, interrogatee flirting with same-sex interrogator), but it was not working for my novel. At all.

    After looking more into how to rob a bank, I was surprised by how common it was for just one guy to walk into a bank and get a few thousand dollars, so it occurred to me that maybe my crew were doing 3 robberies at the same time, but that one of them had been caught in the explosion. Not only did the action-opening work better for this story than the interrogation-opening did, but this also made it personal because when the narrator and his boss meet the bomber later, their relationship becomes more tense for the fact that their friend is unconscious in a hospital bed and that it's this new rival's fault.

    I also made my narrator straight so that we could get the dynamic of a straight man being completely platonic friends with two straight women. Now, he objectifies basically every woman he sees, but not his two friends. Now I had a group dynamic of

    Narrator: Lawful Evil ESFP who loves committing crimes because it's a bonding experience with his friends and it's his obligation to help them in any way he can
    Boss: Neutral Evil INTP who loves committing crimes for the intellectual thrill of knowing that she can pull off the perfect crime
    Friend: Chaotic Evil ESFJ who's a lot like the narrator, but with the added touch of loving that The Man can't tell her and her friends what to do
    Friend's Brother: True Neutral INFJ/INFP who goes along with his sister's life, but who doesn't get involved in the violent parts (when the Narrator, Boss, and Friend were each robbing banks, Brother was waiting as Boss's getaway driver)​

    My original thought for why they would need to commit so many crimes (after the Friend goes to the hospital and her Brother stays with her, the Narrator and their Boss still have to go out to another bank where they end up finding out more about the Bomber) was that none of them can get jobs, so they ride across the country robbing banks every few weeks and have kept this up for months.



    Deciding that they owed a ton of money to a loan shark gave me an infinitely better back story of them having tried to start a cocaine ring with his "support," but then it got destroyed in a turf war (without the shark's support) and now they don't have time to start over. This also made me realize that the boss isn't running bank robberies for the challenge, she's just an ISTJ pragmatist trying to make a living, and the Friend's Brother became less INFP and a more solid INFJ who helped the Boss with the operation's bookkeeping.

    Then I came up with the most horrifyingly fantastic back-story for how everybody met before getting the drug operation started (which quickly became the most NSFW thing that I have ever come up with. I've done borderline-excessive adult language before, but this new backstory was the furthest I'd ever taken my content.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  15. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    In my sequel, I originally had Markus instigate a bloody butchering of politicians. Then I decided that really isn't what
    he would do. Kept the part where the Empress throws a knife in the Speaker of the House's throat though, and Marckus
    convinces her to not slaughter them herself but to take them prisoner to stand trial for their crimes.
    Also didn't plan on Marckus getting taken prisoner by the Confederation, but it was his choice to stay behind and allow
    his men to retreat. Playing the diplomatic stance was choice to come reasonably under manned, resulting in being
    overwhelmed by the enemies shear numbers and fire power in a confined arena.
     
  16. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I pantsed my first novel, but my second will be well-planned, because it's a direct sequel and I can't change 'the past.' I also have some issues left over from the first novel I need to resolve in the second one (although the first is a stand-alone.) So writing a 'planned' story will be brand-new territory for me. I've started writing, but had to put it aside because of some personal things I needed to deal with this year, but I'm hoping to re-start in January.

    I was just wondering if the story 'changes' that this thread is about are more likely to occur when a story has been pre-planned, rather then when it just evolves organically? It would probably make more sense to say no, that a planned story is less likely to change, but I don't know. It'll be interesting to find out. :)
     
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  17. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    @jannert interesting approach and shift from the former to the latter.
    I always reference the first to keep cannon with the second. Then again
    I am a bad planner. :p
     
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  18. Jaiden

    Jaiden Member

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    Personally, anything I plan changes so drastically that I only realise I'm writing another novel when I go back to edit and realise I have two core storylines; the planned one, and the ad-libbed one. So, in response to jannert, in my experience it's the plans that often go awry, whereas my organic development doesn't change a whole lot when I then enter the editing process.

    I tried planning for years, and it just never worked for me. My current work is not based upon a functioning 'plan' or timeline as such, but more on its influences. So I know that it will be heavily affected by certain philosophy, certain beliefs, and by a particular period of my life. This gives me a vague overview of how it will go, but I find that when I write, that background becomes more faded each and every time.

    So, for example, I started off with a guy who goes to Edinburgh to drink, and think, and hopefully find something he never could back home. So he reinvents himself and then begins adopting characteristics of the people he interacts with. This led me to a problem...could he ever grow? Like, really. If everything he did became an amalgamation of his experiences (in a more obvious manner than we ourselves are products of each experience we have suffered) would he just continue to change until he became a loner and only had himself to affect his thoughts. So I decided that this character needed a place to stop, a stasis of some form, where his character would remain unchanged. He ends up never finding anything new about himself, because every time he interacts with someone new he just changes his goals and his wants to fit with his new personality; a reset of sorts. I certainly didn't plan for it, but I became very aware of how, as humans, we are all a multitude of people. We don't behave a certain way every day to everyone. We are cruel to our parents, pretentious to our underlings, besotted by our sweethearts, and apprehensive around people we can't figure. This made me strip my story apart, and construct it all around the MC's character. The build of character was central to my first story; how he got there, why he was that way, and what consequences there were. Yet, I've taken all of that and started right where he ended up, and now I want to look at how a person like that would interact with the real world.

    Bit lengthy and verbose there, but I struggled to explain exactly what I meant there. I'll have to edit it down sometime in the distant future.
     
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  19. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    That's a very interesting concept. I find that applies to myself a lot. Ask friends to describe me, and they would all likely come up with very different views. That must mean I'm filling a different role for each one of them. So where is the real me? A very worthy story topic.
     
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  20. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributor Contributor

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    In my story, my main has dreams that tell him bad things that are going to happen and how he can stop the event from happening. After outlining his life with the many times he saves his friends and family, everything seemed to be too much sunshine and rainbows for him. Each event was very important, but he just came across as too much of a hero after saving the day.
    So I went back and made thing more dire for him. Things that would bring out the darkness in him or any of us if we were in the same situation. For example, my MC is a policeman, not Super Cop, just an ordinary policeman. He has a dream where he has to kill someone, if he doesn't kill him this person will kill his best friend. It is one or the other, he has to chose. He kills the man and in the process becomes everything he ever stood against. I believe there is a dark side in all of us, we just bury it. I had a blast bringing out my MC's dark side.
    It worked out, the people who I had read the changes felt that it made the story better. More real.
    Was a little bit frightened about how much I enjoyed messing with my MC's head. This is one example, I torture the hell out of him mentally. I love to whip on him now!
     
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  21. Jaiden

    Jaiden Member

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    I have to agree. As luck has it, my current work was skirting around the edges of this topic, and picking up Plato and Baudrillard, it intensified this belief within me. Around 12 years ago, I had to attend counselling because of being caught in possession with marijuana. Because that stuff destroys lives, obviously. However, I had two versions of myself that I was aware of. I had the person I was at school, and the person I was on the internet. My internet self was much more dependable and likeable, and as I discussed different social interactions (not telling this guy that I was an online NERD~!) he asked me if I believed I lived two lives. Or something like that.

    Since then I think it's probably one of the most repeated questions I have. What is 'ME'? When I think of who I am, do I portray this to the world? Has the world ever even seen the real me? I think that every interaction in the real world I have is a result of an eccentric version of myself, whereas online my personality is shrouded because I can only use words, but it's probably a lot more genuine than in real life because you can think things through. Or, conversely, is the ability to retract statements and thoughts an editing process, making me less authentic?

    We should start a philosophy club..
     
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  22. pamedria

    pamedria Member

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    What' is 'ME?' is indeed an interesting question, last year I had written something about people asking others to define yourself because I've never liked the question. I don't feel you can give a simple answer. When someone asks you to describe yourself, what would you say? Is your opinion of yourself the reality? Can an individual really be simply labelled, even by themselves? I know that my thoughts do not always get reflected by my words, of course we never speak our every thought. However most people do say similar things about me, but each person's definition is slightly different, of course. I also won’t act or talk in the same way in every situation. You may be angry one morning when you meet a new face. All they know of you is how you spoke to them in that instance. So, are you a shy person? Outgoing? Polite? Brash? Each individual’s language is completely altered depending on who they’re speaking to. So, what is the real version of someone? We all subconsciously change as we communicate with different people.

    One person’s thoughts are different to their behaviour and language. So, am I the only person who knows who I truly am? So is it in fact our thoughts that define us? Then, when I am with a friend, colleague, boss, teacher, mother or sister… Do I behave the same? For nearly everyone the answer would be no. So, what is the reality? I believe we have to accept that there are multiple ones, and each one is still the truth. You may not think you are super funny, super obnoxious, really cute or arrogant… but if one single person thinks anything of you, then their opinion cannot be a lie, it is just their reality. It would reflect on your behaviour towards them, regardless if you believe that you “aren’t really like that”. Of course, there could be exceptions. For example, “She only thinks I’m a bitch because she’s jealous.” Well that, again, is your reality because in your mind she is a jealous person and you are not a bitch. Do you think she would describe herself as jealous, though? So, what kind of person is she actually like, and who are you?

    Another thing I find interesting is how the formality of our conversations change depending on who we are talking to. This would highlight the differences between a reciprocity relationship to a communality relationship. Do not assume that you would only act different to people you are not close to, because your mother is likely to define you differently to your sister, who would then say different things compared to your friend. Even the slightest change, means there are multiple versions of you. The type of relationship is a huge factor, especially in regards to dominance. We always act different when we are speaking to an authority compared to someone we believe to be equal or inferior to us. So, who exactly are you? Are you not you when you speak to your little sibling? Or are you not you when you speak to your boss?

    Well, in my opinion, the reality is that we simply can never define ourselves. So, if anyone ever asks ‘tell me about yourself’ you might want to give them the adjectives you believe yourself to be but the real answer is that we are so complex. I am sure every person reading this has a long list of ways to describe yourselves, but the lists that others would make about you would be equally as real and truthful. So, who am I? Well, that is for the questioner to decide. If someone tells me what kind of person they think I am, then who am I to say they're wrong? After all, do we ever know who we are, really?

    This kind of philosophy makes it character development in a novel difficult, unless you are clearly focusing on one main MC. Then you get into how deep they are, without appearing inconsistent. I don't believe in introducing your main characters like "the sweet and gentle Henry walked into the room". Instead I like to portray the character's personality and traits through their speech, behvaiour, and I also love to input their inner thought within the book by using italics. Of course, when you have so many characters, like my novel, it is fine to say "many people thought of Alzo as a brute..." or "Wilson had not appeared happy for some time. He had become quiet and shy." But I think always back this up and show that a character is not simply ONE thing, because no one has a simple answer to 'what is ME', so how can we say who the characters are so plainly. They definitely need to be built, with how they act, thoughts, dialogue, other characters' view of them etc.
     
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  23. Arcadeus

    Arcadeus Senior Member

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    Sometimes, I like to pre-write goals for protagonist/antagonistic characters. Then I see how much trouble I can create for those characters along the way. Which sometimes can cause those goals to change. In which case I change them because it's what the character wants.
     

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