Musing: How to Plan

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No matter how bare bones, a plan is needed.

To my understanding, there are two camps of writers.  Planners and Pantsers.  If you’re not familiar with the latter, it means writing by the seat of your pants.

Anyone familiar with writing a big project knows the dread of world building.  It’s a swirling miasma threatening to choke out all life from the author and keeping the author from actually writing.

Here’s a super secret (not really) technique to avoid this—a means to not only defy writer’s block, but destroy it with three easy steps.

 

  1. I decide where the story starts.
  2. I decide where the story ends.
  3. I write what’s between the two.

 

I treat chapters as ‘mini stories’ that resolve themselves to a lesser extent. (these stories are effectively stepping stones for the big picture)

 

“But what if I get stuck?”  I hear you ask.  Identify the step you’re at and if you struggle to answer the question, move UP a step.  The top of the list is the broadest, the bottom is the most specific.

  • When looking at the big picture I try to figure out ‘what’s being accomplished on a chapter by chapter basis or what a character does.
  • When looking at a specific character, I zoom in on their motivations and make sure they make sense with their actions.
  • When looking at a specific chapter, I check to see if it stays on point with my ‘general plan’.
  • When I look at a specific page, I check to make sure the paragraphs flow well with the ones around them.
  • When I look at a specific paragraph, I check to make sure the sentences that form it aren’t disjointed and random.
  • When I look at a word, I check to make sure that word plays nice with those around it.

 

The important part is to not over plan.  If you stop writing in favor of world building, you start a deadly timer.   This is actually a plan quite friendly with both approaches.  A planner might plot the beginning and end on each chapter while a pantser might only plot the beginning and end of the whole story.

 

Let me be blunt.  I don’t suggest writing anything completely blind.  I’ve done it before and while it’s fun, you run a real risk of throwing out some to all your hard work.  It just isn’t worth doing with a serious project.

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