RE: How much do you plan before writing?

I'm kinda new to this, but I'm doing this: I have a general plot, a guideline and some major scenes, but I let some empty spaces to let myself be inspired as I write. And it's kind of a long plot so there is a lot of scenes and a lot of blank between them.

I don't think it's optimized, and sometimes, after writing 2-3 chapters, I realised that it is shit and I have to redo it again. But it keeps me motivated and, I hope, creative. :3

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

I'm fairly new to actual writing as well, but I have planned out quite a few stories before I finally settled on one to write.
I had plans for 2 very different stories in very different settings at first, but couldn't make either of them go past chapter 1. Both had fairly detailed worlds fleshed out, The MC's growth and personality, as well as the most important cast members were also fully formed on paper before I tried putting them in the story.
What happened, is that once I got started on writing, there wasn't any room to actually write. I killed the story before it even started by overthinking my cast.

Just writing it out without plans doesn't work for me either. If I lack direction, I just ramble off at random tangents and never get back on track.

This time, and it seems to work ok. I have given my cast distinct personalities, but their lives contains nothing but their currently relevant relationships. simply put, the stuff they have said or hinted at already.
This includes the MC. Some might think that it's bad that the reader don't know the MC's past, but I don't agree with that. They can get to know the MC as he develops, and his past becomes an issue that has to be dealt with. There is no point in limiting him with a huge past that probably isn't going to be relevant later. or worse. has been revealed in a boring infodump, and then is in the way of that nice plot development you just came up with.
The world is fleshed out in a similar pattern. You don't get to know what the MC doesn't know, or cares to know, nor what he wouldn't even think about unless it was relevant to the situation he was in. so it's not fleshed out in my plans either. I might get an idea later where adding an event from the past has a desired effect in the present, but I am free to do so when it's relevant because I haven't done it beforehand. I don't have to retrofit my work to make new ideas part of the story.

So I guess my current method is to just plan out a skeleton of the cast, world, and story, and then try to maintain as much freedom to explore the concept for as long as possible while maintaining a forward direction When I'm running out of creative space, I will let the MC reach the end goal and finish it.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

11/25/2017 3:33:11 AMbatotit Wrote: [ -> ]It's nice if you are always full of ideas but what if you reach some sort of writer's block in one scene?

There are times when I don't feel like writing, my writing is bad, or I write slower than I'd like. If that's what you mean by a block, my answer would be 'I should probably write the scene anyway.'

If you mean simply being unable to write for some reason, I haven't experienced that, and am unsure why it would only apply to a specific scene.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

11/25/2017 9:58:13 AMSJ Reaver Wrote: [ -> ]
11/25/2017 3:33:11 AMbatotit Wrote: [ -> ]It's nice if you are always full of ideas but what if you reach some sort of writer's block in one scene?

There are times when I don't feel like writing, my writing is bad, or I write slower than I'd like. If that's what you mean by a block, my answer would be 'I should probably write the scene anyway.'

If you mean simply being unable to write for some reason, I haven't experienced that, and am unsure why it would only apply to a specific scene.

I had a block on a specific scene last week. I knew what was to come before, and after, but couldn't bring the 2 scenes together. Forcing it with several tries did solve it yesterday tho. not enough to make me fully happy, but put enough alcohol as lube on and hopefully the audience will accept the less than ideal spot, so that they can get more of the decent stuff that comes later.
Whomever said you couldn't drown your worries in alcohol, didn't try drowning their problem the right way.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

I don't really plan. I know where I begin and where I end. Once I have that I make arcs develop naturally as I go along, all working in service to further the finale and help create context to it. The rest just happens naturally, you should give it a try. It means that you get lots of minor arcs and mysteries that are resolved over the course of segments of 5-10k words, with a greater overarching narrative that is heading in a single direction. It also means that since everything isn't extensively planned out you can add in things that sound cool as you go along.
By the end of the first 40k you'll soon realise that by letting it develop naturally in concert with the ending, you begin forming what is a very solid and intricate plot that is hard to do artificially.
For example, my MC is a Dungeon Core that grew up in a grassland...
Don't like the grassland, want to move somewhere else...
Grassland is therefore mostly devoid of life. Why? Combustible grass that causes massive wildfires...
Moves to mountains. Prefer them...
They're missing something...
Big damn alpine ocean of awesomeness...
etc... etc... you get the point....

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

The serial I'm writing at the moment was initially unplanned. In fact, that was the whole point. I wanted something that could be a bit of a break from the much more organised and careful novel I'm also working on.

So I took a throwaway idea and just made up the plot, characters, and world as I went along. But then that thing happened. It may well have happened to you before. I got invested. Invested enough in this throwaway world and its characters to have to take a step back and make sure it all hung together and had some sense of purpose.

That said, I would still say it's important not to overorganise. Head towards mountains and landmarks that you have in mind (action set pieces, grand revelations, touching character moments), but leave yourself the flexibilty to take advantage of all the terrain you pass on the way. Sometimes the best ideas are serendipitous, an unplanned, undirected moment that just works perfectly.

Leaving yourself room to adapt and grow the story and world is especially important when writing serial fiction, as on this site, since its not super elegant to go back and make large edits. But set pieces are also important - that's where you can really wow your audience.

Basically, my strategy is to head for the mountains, but to give myself a lot of flexibilty in getting there. And to enjoy the journey, of course.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

I like to start with a fairly vague, overall outline of the arc. Sometimes it's in outline format, sometimes its just a "beginning idea, middle idea, ending idea" set of paragraphs.

Then I let the characters and events unfold the way they want to.

Often the end result is almost unrecognizable when compared with the original outline/idea. I like my characters to dictate their actions, reactions, and decisions as their personalities gain traction within the story, and it usually takes me in directions I never expected.

That keeps it fun for me, as a writer. Especially when I finish a first draft and go back and look at my original outline thinking "what the heck is this...".

This approach does have drawbacks. For people who like to be meticulous with planning, it's obviously not going to work. More than that, though, is that if I end up struck with a bout of writer's block, I don't have a big, planned document to refer to. This is why I work on more than one story at a time, though, and that tends to work for me.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

Well, others here have already kind of explained at large what i do. Minus one crucial detail.
A kind of mixture of what DWhitechapel at post 9 and Drew at post 11 said,

It's like a journey to a bunch of landmarks ( the landmarks being the key plot points that i planned in the beginning, as the skeleton for the novel/ its premise)
However, the landscape itself isn't clear, and the landmarks exist at an arbitrary distance away. The area isn't mapped either.
So i go (figuratively ofc) from the start and head towards a landmark, or at least where i think it is, and while going there i see the surroundings and decide on which path to take.
Ofc, new landmarks (plot points) can suddenly pop up on the path.
And the path itself might change, completely skipping a landmark which i previously thought was necessary but don't anymore.
The story certainly is malleable to a high degree. While there are guidelines, nothing is really set in stone.
I also do publish the chapters as soon as i'm done with them. Which i believe works better with this type of approach.

That's all fine and dandy, but what i noticed anyone else didn't say is that,
I keep careful documentation of what all happened in the story. All significant plot points and to even the minor details that could come into effect later. 
All of them stored tidily in a spreadsheet, which i can actually link to. But, well, you won't be able to access it since it's private and i probably won't grant permission either.
The basic gist of it is, the path to the goal is unclear, however the path that is actually travelled, is really well documented, collected, and saved in the place so that i can refer to it later on, using it to derive new plot points.

So, while my perfectionist nature does want me to plan everything out from the start. I don't actually do that while writing chapters. But everything that i did write, i keep careful memory of it so that i can build off of it and don't contradict my previous self somehow.

That is what happens in general.

How i write individual chapters?
Well, i use MS Word as the editor, and throughout the day/ at whatever time i think of something interesting, i'll write that as a point and save it.
Then, while sitting down and 'connecting' those points, i might choose to do some of them differently. Depends on what i think suits it better.
I might end up writing entirely new scenes that i previously didn't even think of, thus some points might or might not be left behind.
And then the next chapter starts as a continuation of those points.
Edit: Oh yes, forgot to mention the 'initial draft' and such stuff. No, pretty much each chapter i write is 'final' in its first form as i'm completed with it. I will, very, very occasionally not be at all satisfied with what i wrote. In which case i will heavily edit the chapter or start from scratch, but i've only done that once till now. Aside from minor edits like correcting spellings or grammar or adding a sentence to make things clearer, i don't at all write something while planning to flesh it out later, no 'first draft' or something.

I always intended for my novel to be a webnovel rather than a publication. And i've written it in that sort of episodic way.

Though, i suppose unlike the rather common type of webnovel that has been sullying the webnovel name, those novels that run to a ridiculous 1000 to 2000 chapters and in which change happens very slowly and painfully and they contradict themselves multiple times, opening up pointless plotholes and inconsistencies.
Those are my main source of inspiration.
Whenever i read those. I see what they did wrong. And then a fire ignites inside me, wanting to do it correctly. Rigorously testing every plot point and then sticking to that throughout. Not devolving into a novel where every next chapter is a recap of the previous chapter plus some additional commentary by the peanut gallery.

Anyways, that went a little off topic,
But that is my main inspiration to get me into the mood of writing.
Which kind of ties it back since my writing is episodic, and will be influenced by what i did before/ was doing while writing that, instead of sticking to an airtight frame from which i can't deviate.

I've tried doing that once. And it devolved into a spiral of simply always planning for the novel and more and more planning and never actually writing anything at all.
I'm not saying anything is wrong with that approach. It is something that is necessary for, say murder-mystery stories like sherlock, where every set piece needs to be well defined.
But doing that kind of ruins the fun in writing for me. Thus making me unable to continue. It simply is not an approach that suits me.

RE: How much do you plan before writing?

oh, this is a pretty tough question. I mean, everyone all has their different ways I know for a fact that I have tried the 3 main types with the 3 books I have attempted to write (2 uploaded and then abandoned; the other never uploaded). The 3 types I am referring to is:

Type 1: rigid structured pre-planned story. This one is basically when you make a complete skeleton of a story with plot points and character development all planned and written down perfectly. Then you simply fill the gaps with actions, dialogue and whatever else you use to achieve the "story developmental requirements" of that chapter. I did this with my first book, and I hated it. Abandoned the book before even chapter 6 if I remember correctly. This type is for those that love to plan every little detail before writing. 

Type 2: This is the middle ground of the 3 types. In this one, you plan roughly what happens and vaguely note how you want your characters to develop and then write. You tend to use your imagination to get to the points you have recorded and character developments you want. This type suits those who can't plan, but need a goal to aim for when they write.

Type 3: This is the absolute improvisation type. All you do is write down the genre, main character name and then get writing. Just use your imagination to explore the limits of the genre and what you can do with the character. This tends to be the type used in one-shots and short stories. Used for those who have a ridiculous imagination that can somehow keep their imagination focused.

Those are the 3 basic types. Personally, I am doing all 3 of those for my current book. Due to the fact that the book I am writing atm is a LitRPG VRMMO, I am actually using it to test out a game idea I actually wanna try coding sometime. So, I am creating basically an ENTIRE game theoretically from scratch. This requires some ridiculous planning and typing of documents and such. That is the type 1 aspect of my current books writing progress. 
The type 2 aspect of my book is the fact that all I know in terms of characters and plot is the main character's personality(at the start point of the book), premise, rough character backstory and also a future plot point in like 3 years of time in the book. This is the type 2 aspect of my book, a rough sketch then writing over it. 
The type 3 aspect of my book is the world and how I am going to build it. I have absolutely no idea on what its gonna be like except for it being a fantasy, LitRPG focus.

That's it in terms of the writing of the story. In terms of things like drafting, typing, editing, publishing, etc. I will explain that in stages for you. If you don't want to know it then just ignore.

Stage 1: The revision and mental outlining stage.
All I do at this stage is revise on the past 3-5 chapters of my story to get back into the feel of how I was when I wrote the story previously. After this, I quickly and mentally outline what I want to happen in this part of the book. It is a very rough outline. for example, the main character found a dungeon last chapter (LitRPG theme). My outline would literally be "main character explores dungeon".

Stage 2 version 1: Handwriting up a draft.
This one is sometimes done, sometimes not depending on the story. The 2 abandoned stories on my account were done without this stage, but the one I didn't upload was all handwritten and I still haven't typed all the handwritten stuff up. Either way

Stage 2 version 2: Writing up a draft.
This is pretty much the same thing as Version 1 of this step, except on MS Word.

Stage 3 for Version 1: Typing with editing during typing.
In this stage, I will type up the handwritten copy into Ms. Word. Usually, I will chop and change things a lot during the conversion from handwritten to typed. Once done I will quickly go through again just to be sure I have things phrased fluidly and no beginner mistakes are present.

Stage 3 for version 2: Basic editing.
This is just some simple editing of obvious mistakes and rephrasing of some parts if I think they are phrased a bit awkwardly.

Stage 4: Reviewing and Editing.
In this stage, I read the previous chapter and the new one. Any mistakes or awkward parts I will correct and/or rephrase to regain the fluidity of the text. Depending on the severity of the change/correction, I will go back from as little as a sentence to back almost 3 paragraphs to make sure it stays fluid and consistent with the story's flow.

Stage 5: Reviewing the draft and the first edit.
In this stage, I read the previously written chapter and the newly written one. As I go, I make changes and corrections to the newly written chapter. If I make a word correction or word order change, I re-read the paragraph. If I change something that affects the entire paragraph like remove a sentence and re-write it completely (surprisingly common for me lol); then I re-read that paragraph and the one before it. I do this for the entirely new chapter. I rinse and repeat this process until I am happy with the new chapter.

Stage 6: Uploading as a draft and second edit using Grammarly In this stage, I copy-paste the story from MS Word to the RRL fiction draft thing. After reformatting because RRL is a bitch for font size, bold and text alignment; I go through another edit, this one is on Grammarly. Grammarly gives a bit more in-depth scan for errors and includes the more obscure grammatical and English writing conventions in its scan for errors. Grammarly tends to do horrible at correcting problems to the stories fluidity and people who write simply (I call it retarded or boring if I am in some sensitive company Wink ) so I recomb through the story for fluidity problems and fix them. After that, I will usually either upload on a schedule or when I have 3 more chapters in the bank.

Oh and a note for Grammarly: The better you are at writing in English, the better Grammarly is at correcting your writing. Unlike MS Word which has its autocorrect function designed to fix mistakes people who are using their second language (like a Chinese writing in English); Grammarly is designed to correct the intricate/technical mistakes and bad habits people who use English as a first language (like me) have. Just keep that in mind.

Ok and that is about it. I gave you the 3 archetypes of writers and what I am doing currently. I also went through the process I tend to go through. The only difference in that 5 stage plan for each type is the amount of information I give myself in stage one and two. like if it was a type one then I would have the plan that I will constantly refer to so I keep on the "course" that I planned. Stage two will simply have the goal of the chapter. for example, the goal could be to "create a spark that will cause conflict" or maybe "prepare for the near future development of the main character's personality". Stuff vague like that. For type 3's, I just keep in mind that extremely rough and ridiculously vague mental outline of how the chapter might go.

I hope this helps and remember, editing and grammar are key. if you can't make it perfect, at least make sure the story flows, however erratically it may be.