Planning Your Work


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  1. #1

    Planning Your Work

    How much planning do you do? How much planning should you do?

    I'm conflicted by this. For my current project, I've done a lot of character planning with their back history, their current conflicts, how they mesh with the other characters, and so on. I feel like, as far as my cast goes, it's pretty solid.
    I've also got a very grounded setting, and details about why it's set where it is, when it is, etc. So, my universe is there and I like it.

    The one thing I didn't take too much time to plan is an actual story arc. My idea with this was too create this world and the people in it, and start writing from there in a sort of episodic manner. I feel like it's working out alright, but I've not gotten very far into it yet. Do you think this is a bad approach in the long run? Will I likely run into problems with cohesion or continuity or plot holes in the future if I don't carefully plan out an overview of the story?

    Thanks for any replies.

  2. #2
    WF Veteran Gavrushka's Avatar
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    I don't do any planning as I am clueless as to what I am writing until I start. - I do plenty of research as is needed, but allow my characters to do all the work of telling the story (and self-development), and my role is as their scribe.

    There are so many approaches, none right or wrong, and we all try to take the approach that leads to the best end-product.

    I look forward in the future to reading an excerpt of your WIP, and best of luck with it.
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  3. #3
    Member A_Jones's Avatar
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    its true there are many ways to write. I usually start whith a literary goal I want to achieve and some character and setting ideas. Sometimes soomething happens to me and I want to write about it so I plan something around it. The plot usually comes after I put those events and my characters together and think of what message I want to tell.

  4. #4
    I have, sometimes, a climax in mind. That being said, for both of my novels I've done zilch in planning any scene. Even the cast was entirely unplanned. I started book 1 chapter 1 with an action scene that I gradually introduced the characters that became my mains. Side characters are the same. For example, in my latest, there's a scene where a character breaks into a hotel where a kidnapping took place. Who would be there? I thought. Detectives. And reporters. So I dropped in a scene where the detectives do a little press conference in the lobby, and thereby explain their investigation with one of the mains listening in. As it turned out, the detectives grew into a larger part of the plot as I went, while they chased down their crime and my mains tried to avoid them. Made it much more realistic for the story and I got three shiny new characters out of it (the detectives).

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  5. #5
    As I understand it there's no right or wrong way. I don't plan, well hardly, and I don't have a written outline at all. I start with a concept (usually a "what if?") and one or two characters, I usually have a vague idea of the ending but no idea how I'm going to get there. The characters tend to take me along, and new characters that I hadn't even thought of pop up as I'm writing and move things along. Several times the characters have gone completely rogue on me (I've been known to shout "No! What are you doing? How am I going to get out of this?" at the screen as I type ;P) but ended up bringing a story thread round into a neat conclusion (quite without my permission, but very helpful) and left me sat there shaking my head wondering how the hell that happened...

    I tend to spend a few minutes trying to get "in character" before I begin a scene, listen to music that evokes the type of emotion they may be feeling, that sort of thing. Then I just start writing and hope they take over

    Maybe not the best way to write, but planning tends to kill a story for me (but for others it does wonders), so I think experimentation is the key. Try all methods and see what works for you.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Gavrushka View Post
    I don't do any planning as I am clueless as to what I am writing until I start. - I do plenty of research as is needed, but allow my characters to do all the work of telling the story (and self-development), and my role is as their scribe.

    There are so many approaches, none right or wrong, and we all try to take the approach that leads to the best end-product.

    I look forward in the future to reading an excerpt of your WIP, and best of luck with it.
    Yes, I suppose there's more than one way to skin a cat. I'm glad to see there are more people that sort of "run and gun" rather than carefully strategizing. In my opinion, writing is more fun that way. That's why I've only taken the time to setup my world, and then just run wild in it.

  7. #7
    I find 'planning' stifles my creativity. I get bogged down with 'they can't do that its not plotted' rather than allow the characters and story to grow organically. I usually start with a single sentence or a situation, 'widower wins lottery' then I write some dialogue, to 'hear' my character's voice, then it spirals and takes a life of it own. Many writers can testify to this, 'It practically wrote itself' they say.

  8. #8
    I'm conflicted by this. For my current project, I've done a lot of character planning with their back history, their current conflicts, how they mesh with the other characters, and so on. I feel like, as far as my cast goes, it's pretty solid.
    I've also got a very grounded setting, and details about why it's set where it is, when it is, etc. So, my universe is there and I like it.

    The one thing I didn't take too much time to plan is an actual story arc. My idea with this was too create this world and the people in it, and start writing from there in a sort of episodic manner.
    This is a common issue, I think, with a lot of beginning writers who plan. Your planning should be centered around the story if you want the world to be centered around the story. The story, IMO, should come first; the world should support it, enable it to be the way it is.

    There is no right or wrong way to plan or not to plan; neither is there any jurisdiction regarding the extents you can go to. The steps you take towards your success should be based on what you want your story to accomplish, decided on an individual basis, implemented without concern for how other writers are doing it, and augmented with the availability of any technique you may find useful.
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  9. #9
    Member A_Jones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    This is a common issue, I think, with a lot of beginning writers who plan. Your planning should be centered around the story if you want the world to be centered around the story. The story, IMO, should come first; the world should support it, enable it to be the way it is.

    There is no right or wrong way to plan or not to plan; neither is there any jurisdiction regarding the extents you can go to. The steps you take towards your success should be based on what you want your story to accomplish, decided on an individual basis, implemented without concern for how other writers are doing it, and augmented with the availability of any technique you may find useful.
    I agree with this. You need something you want to say before you figure out how to say it right?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by A_Jones View Post
    I agree with this. You need something you want to say before you figure out how to say it right?
    Hmmm. I suppose I've done that. Everything I've planned so far (my characters and setting) have been created based on the initial story idea that I came up with. But, I've left my story at just that: an idea. So, everything is now setup for that idea to take form.

    Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm starting to feel like I'm on the right path now.

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