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Best way to plan fiction?
  • I often hear people say that you should have your entire story planed out before you start, others say you should just know where you begin, what do you think the best way to plan fiction is?
  • That's trial and error JMS.

    The way I plan will be entirely different to the way another writer plans.

    I also think the genre you're writing in- if it is genre based- will play a part, because science-fiction/fantasy has different requirements to say, romance.
  • Carol said:

    .



    How so?
  • By the time I'm ready to start the first draft I will have a start, and end, a few major plot points between. Character bios, visuals, reference books for costume, hairstyles, and a basic outline of the chapters content.
  • I think you have to know what the crux of your story is - the main thing that happens, and you can work backwards and forwards from there as you deal with the cause or effect/implications. At the outset, you can't possibly know every little thing that is going to happen. Ideas will come to you as you go along, and you will most probably change a lot of what you started with.

    Don't try and include a cast of thousands either as they will appear diluted as characters. Have a strong lead, plus the supporting artists.

    The beauty of editing is that you can go back and add background flavour and character traits, but without the main nugget of the story, you have very little to work on.

    Just get the idea and go - and try to start at an exciting point rather than using backstory, time of day or weather!
  • I started to read a novel once where I was promised a time-slip adventure. The part I read was a turgid description of everything the main character did in the morning, from getting out of bed to drinking tea to having a shower to sitting in the car to driving along... none of it relevant, and really boring. These are the things that we all do, and take for granted, and unless they have a really major part to play in the story, leave them out. Get as close to the meat of the story as possible: or at least point your reader in that direction. Give him or her a reason to stick with you.

    You don't have to plan the entire story; though sometimes it can come to you fully-formed. What you do need to know is who, where and when your main characters are and why they are interacting. What is it that makes them interesting? What makes them different from you and me? They are on a journey, whether physical or personal or emotional, and you have to take your reader along too.

    Every writer works to their own scheme - there's no right or wrong way. Why not try sketching out a story from start to finish, and then see where that takes you? As you write it, you'll probably find that something better occurs to you with regard to plot, or you may want to introduce another character you hadn't realised you would need. Writing is an organic process: just listen to the story that's inside your head, and follow where it wants to go. It will be interesting to compare the end result with your original plan.



  • There is no 'best way' otherwise there would be one!

    Quite profound, but true, as we all complete our word count after having started by different methods. I have worked from a broad 'written' outline and I have worked from an idea in my head that blooms along the literary road.

    I think that if we know WHAT we want to write about, that is sufficient. It can be a blind journey, but even with a plan, one might have 3 A4 sheets of idea; we still have to complete another 250 to arrive at a completed manuscript.

    My suggestion is: go with your idea, get as much down as possible, and then, as other correspondents have suggested, edit and build up.
    P
  • Different writers - different work methods of working. Also are you in short story mode or novel mode?

    When I write a story I never know the ending - I start writing and see what happens. If your story is character driven they will take you to the conclusion.
  • The 'best way' is the way tha works for you. You can even have several methods depending on what you're writing or what mood you're in.

    Personally, I/we (as I'm part of a writing partnership) always have a rough idea of the plot - specifically the start, big plot points and the resolution. However, things change Nd adapt as you write and then again when you edit. For example the ending of our current book originally started life in the middle.

    The most important thing to remember is whatever you write, it doesn't matter if the first draft is poor or riddled with holes. This is where editing comes in later, to tighten everything, to make sure things flow together.

    You can plan and plan and plan but sometimes characters want to do something else or something unexpected comes to you mid-write. I like planning but I like to keep open minded and flexible just in case. Seems to stop any stalls in my experience.
  • Yes, agree be flexible whatever your plan says. Your characters can do strange things that you don't foresee, but usually they have a good reason.
  • I often wonder this myself. I written in the past without a plan and for whatever reason/reasons I've stopped after so long. I know one reason is confidence but I wonder if it's because I get stuck. I'm no expert writer, I have aspired for years but never gotten down to doing the work! (I have completed NaNoWriMo twice so I know I can do it.)

    I've been looking at planning and there's so many different ways to structure a novel e.g. 3 act structure, hero's journey. I think you need to find what works well for you. I used to write all my ideas down in notebooks but it was a mess. I started mindmapping that seems to work well for me to sort it all out and expand an idea.
    Some people write scenes on cards. I haven't workout out my planning yet, I'm trying everything, I have a few writing books with different ideas. I've been distracted from planning the novel I want to write by a short story I'm working on.. And a novella I ended up starting. Whoops...

    Do you use pinterest? A lot of people are making story boards on there for their novels etc I found this out recently. It's handy for me as I find images come to me first or an image will spark an idea. I did start finding images and saved them into word, until I discovered I could do this on pinterest. I think people can see what you are doing though, it's all public.
    You can find one image and then look at related images, it can help build up an atmosphere for your novel.
  • You can set the board as private, or only let certain people see it, rather than public.

    I have a few for my various projects.
    Thanked by 1Jen
  • How can I set it as private?
  • I usually do it when I set the board up, but if you go to your screen showing your boards, click the edit at the bottom of the one you want to make private.

    Then in the Edit your board box that comes up, go down to where it says 'Secret', just click on the blank space beside No, it will then show red and Yes. Then save at the bottom.

    Then when you go back to your screen with your boards on, it will have moved to the bottom of the screen page with a padlock symbol and the 'Keep some boards secret' above it.

    So only you can see them, until you're ready to make them public- if ever- by reversing the process you just did (click the space beside Yes above so it shows No, and save).

    Thanked by 1Jen
  • The best way is the one which works for you.
  • Yes, Mrs Phots; You are right. But for how long might JMS struggle to find that 'best way'.

    JMS must understand this question will forever be asked of writers. There's probably very few of us who would work in EXACTLY the same manner as another.

    I think that when we start our writing journey / career, we want to jump to the top straight away and pluck ideas from those who have 'made it'. Very commendable and admirable in concept. But in execution, the new writer may not feel at ease with setting out storyboards or timelines, writing into a notebook rather than straight into a laptop, or editing chapter by chapter rather than waiting until the manuscript is complete.

    So, for JMS, YOU will learn the BEST way after trial and error.

    I am not one to exercise sarcasm in such a public forum, but writing is like marriage: sometimes you have to burn a few pages before writing the winning proof!
  • I have several projects on the go at the moment, part written. I think that you can have different ways of planning for different projects. I have posted a discussion about the practicalities of storing drafts as that has been my major issue at the moment. I am hoping that someone else has a method will strike a chord with me so I can reorganise what I have already written. I suspect that it will take me longer to sort it out than it would have done if I had thought about a system before hand.
    I know this is different to the planning of the actual story but it is all relevant.
  • It's trial and error really.

    Once you notice what you always do, and that works, and then it's what irritates you, or you're always annoyed at- those are the things to change and try a different way.

    We all work in different environments. Some have an office or in my case an office area, others sit at the kitchen table, or elsewhere. So your planning has to take that into account.

    After all, if you need a big chart on the wall to plan out your story- say with different colour sticky notes-you either need to be able to leave it in place, otherwise take it down it has to stay somewhere, roll it up and bits can get unstuck and an important point in the story could end up mixed up with another stray.

    How you plan your fiction is as diverse as writers are. But personally I think, being aware of how you develop ideas and use the information is a starting point.

  • It's trial and error really.

    Once you notice what you always do, and that works, and then it's what irritates you, or you're always annoyed at- those are the things to change and try a different way.

    We all work in different environments. Some have an office or in my case an office area, others sit at the kitchen table, or elsewhere. So your planning has to take that into account.

    After all, if you need a big chart on the wall to plan out your story- say with different colour sticky notes-you either need to be able to leave it in place, otherwise take it down it has to stay somewhere, roll it up and bits can get unstuck and an important point in the story could end up mixed up with another stray.

    How you plan your fiction is as diverse as writers are. But personally I think, being aware of how you develop ideas and use the information is a starting point.

  • Sorry that has multiple posted- hopefully it will resolve itself.
  • I use to just sit and splurge words and ideas all over the place when I first started writing. I was accused of being 'too emotional' with my writing. I've since learned to temper it, which improves the suspense involved.

    These days, I write out a synopsis, in as full as detail as I can, by first writing out character profiles. Once I have some knowledge on the characters backgrounds, personalities and motives, I can move on from there and make progress. That seems to work for me.
  • Yes, I think planning and writing styles evolve for each writer until you find the method that works for you.
  • What's wrong with you, snailmale?
  • I'm planning

    I've found stuff here from 2002
  • I'm beginning to think of the sequel to this e-book. Try and make it into a series for more opportunities of people coming back for more. I have so many other ideas that I will need to place a fraction of their storyline into these series, about there e-book in all, just to keep me interested in them. Just a hint, so as not to blow the themes I am wishing to delve into in the future.... hey, ho..
  • I use WriteItNow although I am getting a conflicting message when I do with reference to Java even though I have installed it, may have to copy & paste my work. Got to go through my hardback file with reference to my last piece of work with Writing Bureau. E/thing is upside down.
  • Just can't figure out cut and paste. Completely useless with technology. That's going to hamper me when it comes to promotion and selling books, making a name for myself...
  • Lydia1960 said:

    Just can't figure out cut and paste. Completely useless with technology. That's going to hamper me when it comes to promotion and selling books, making a name for myself...



    What's your difficulty with cut and paste?

  • A mind that can't get its head around even the simplest of modern technology on computers. Guess it's laiziness really, but it does frustrate me greatly when things confound me, leaving me in a very depressed mood, so best to leave it to the experts I find....
  • It is easy to understand the complexities between a pair of scissors and a gluey brush.

    I'm with you Lydia. The learned Mr Gates should have programmed something with far more simplicity!
  • Lydia1960 said:

    Just can't figure out cut and paste. Completely useless with technology. That's going to hamper me when it comes to promotion and selling books, making a name for myself...



    Now this I can help with:
    Hold down the left mouse button while running it over the text you want to copy. It will highlight the words in blue. Then, holding your mouse over the 'blue bit', click the right button and a list of commands will come up. Click on copy. (You can also click 'cut', but that will remove it from the original source). I always imagine that the mouse is holding those words indefinitely for me in his little paws... When you are ready to paste that piece somewhere else, click where you want it to be with the left button, then click the right mouse button again, and this time select 'paste'. Hey presto, it will appear on your document, or in a comment box... wherever you want to put it.

  • Sounds straight forward enough, but can you transfer it from one file to another, not just within that file. And what happens if you've only got the pad in the middle of your laptop to manoeuvre the cursor around? What then?
  • Have noted down that advice. Should assist me in the future.... thanks for that. You should have been a teacher! Clarity of expression....
  • I used to be a teacher!!
  • Yes, you can 'carry' the info to another document.

    I don't use a central pad, but aren't there left and right buttons to click? If so, same principle.
  • Where there you go! Ease of language skills to get your message across! You must have been a pretty good teacher! Some don't have the gift to express themselves properly, so confuse the pupils....
  • Oh I get it. Yes, there are. So must work the same way! Me, I've definitely no real logic at times. Two and two definitely end up adding as five!! Technology blindness...! Must note that done. Memory not as good as it used to be...
  • Well done! (*)