Hello fellow writers,
As I’ve said in earlier blogs, when I started writing, in my childhood, I wrote to satisfy my own reading needs. I knew exactly how the story started and ended and enjoyed writing the bit in between. As I grew, however, I wanted more sophistication and complexity in my stories. I had to remember things that would have an impact on events later on, or go back and change past events to facilitate later developments. As my stories got longer, this practice became more problematic, and when I started writing full length novels, almost impossible to manage. I’d suffer writers block and self doubt and sometimes abandoning the story all together became the only real option.
I no longer have that luxury. Having made a decision to be a writer, and make a living from it, with the added duties of publishing and marketing, I can no longer indulge in long periods of low productivity.
Yes, I’m going to be talking about planning. Yes, I’ve already talked about planning. Yes, it’s important that I talk about it again.
But I don’t like the confines of a plan - I understand that some writers don’t like planning, it stifles their creativity. If you can write a novel that stands up to editing (by a professional editor) and it sells to the scale that you want it to, that’s great, I admire your skill and wish you every success. But, to all the writers out there who are tackling their first production…
Planning DOES NOT make you a lesser writer.
Planning AIDS creativity by reducing plot complications.
Planning IMPROVES productivity by reducing writers block.
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR PLAN.
Let’s look again at other fields of art:
I accept that there are artists who can pick up a paintbrush, or a musical instrument, and produce beautiful works through improvisation that are held in high esteem among their peers. You must accept that those people are rare. Most painters, including the best in history, sketch and practice the subject on paper, before they approach the canvas. When they do start to work on the final product, using pencil or paint, they first lay down a drawing, to test balance and composition, and better understand any challenges they might face. They plan.
A composer will plot out a simple base line, melody and harmony that loosely outlines the music they hope to record, then add the details and complementary tracks that make the piece moving, or up-lifting. They plan.
But Planning is boring - Sure, planning can feel like a colourless process, so make it fun and challenging in other ways. This is just a suggestion, an adaptation/expansion of my earlier structure…
1 - Write your complete story as a tweet or haiku. Restricting your word count will help you to focus on important points.
2 - Write your complete story in exactly one hundred words.
3 - Expand your story to exactly one thousand words. This is where you start to focus on plot threads, characters and twists. The thousand word draft isn’t final, but it should work for you before you proceed.
4 - Break the thousand word draft down into titled chapters.
5 - Outline each chapter with a tweet or Haiku for each plot thread.
Congratulations, you have a plan that you can alter as you progress through your story.
I hope this has been helpful.
Thanks for reading, and keep writing.