To plan or not to plan

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Personally when it comes to writing, I am a planner.

When I first started writing I didn’t plan at all. I would have an idea, work out a beginning and ending, who the main character was and then just go for it. Although this works for some people, it really didn’t work for me. I realised that my story was going nowhere. I was just writing and writing and writing, but there was no structure, no conflict… it was just very lacking in what a story needs. I had no idea where it was going to go next and pretty soon into it, I realised I had no clue how I was going to reach the ending. It wasn’t even the same story anymore.

I haven’t made this mistake since and it is due to my planning. I don’t go overboard with my planning, but I still need some form of it there to keep my story structured and going in the right direction. Now once an idea comes to mind and I’m ready to write, I plan my story out from beginning to end as a list of bullet points. I have also found an amazing trick I now use, which is that I keep a grid of characters and every time I write something in my story about a character (for example someone has a Ford car, or they used to have a pet dog named Milo,) I make a note of it under that character’s name. It just helps me out in the long run to look back at what I know about each character. I add to this as I write the story, because for me character attributes become more apparent the further into the story you get.

So, to plan or not to plan, which is right for you?

2 responses »

  1. I planned a story of mine to death and ended up falling out of love with it. I ended up planning out the whole thing to a point that I felt like the story wasn’t worth telling anymore. I’m trying to find that happy medium now between having a structure but also just letting the stry happen on it’s own. (also I’m trying to embrace the idea of drafts and edits- which i hated before!)

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    • For me, the bullet point structure is my happy medium. I don’t literally plan everything, just the order of the main events and the rest just comes naturally while writing. I actually love editing! I have a few friends who also write and I get so excited when they send stuff my way. Would love to be a proofreader, but feel the need to get published first to hopefully be taken more seriously.

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