Planning, prewriting, etc

Before sitting down to write something, I try to have a general idea of what I’m going to do.  It tends to help.  But where I struggle is how to go about the planning phase of writing.  I’m not a spacial person; mapping and such only confuses me more.  Lists are helpful, but it’s not a complex enough design to really get myself oriented on a project.

I usually make it up on the fly.  Sometimes the piece turns out awesome and I’m happy, other times… it needs a funeral.  The only effective way for me to make a plan is to have a list of questions that I need to answer.  This doesn’t work as well as I’d like to.  For me, the planning is the most difficult part of any project.  I struggle relentlessly with working out a viable idea.  Maybe that’s why I tend to prefer shorter stuff now, like flash fiction!

Any ideas for a more effective plan?  Hours and hours of babbling and scribbling the occasional thing down tend to be the only plan that I can really adhere to.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Victoria M Lowe
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 13:10:12

    One thing that really helps me is talking out my ideas to someone. Not only does it help me because it’s verbal instead of spacial, but it also allows me to see the reaction of a possible reader. Watch their non-verbal queues, too, so you get more out of it in case they’re sugarcoating their thoughts. 🙂

    Reply

    • nerdywordyjana
      Jul 14, 2011 @ 00:02:24

      That’s a good idea! Talking to someone is a good way to judge how strong/weak an idea is. 🙂 Thanks!

      Reply

      • laurastanfill
        Jul 15, 2011 @ 07:10:03

        I agree! I’ve discovered thinking out loud, and having someone else respond to my ideas, has been a huge part of my writing process this time around.

        I’m a huge proponent of character exploration and freewriting, but this novel is coming together around an outline (GASP!), which has made chatting about upcoming scenes especially important. I’ve run a few ideas by one of my writing friends, and I’ve blogged a little about certain issues and worries. The act of explaining what’s wrong, and where I want to head, has helped me crystallize my vision for the book, which has gotten me writing in a very productive, forward-moving way.

      • nerdywordyjana
        Jul 15, 2011 @ 23:31:22

        That’s great! I think talking to someone is a good way to get it out of your head long enough to actually know what you want. I have to explain things out too; it makes it easier to really see what I want to do with a project.

        I’m glad your novel is coming along well! 😀

  2. wolfraven80
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 10:39:22

    Interesting. In my case, it’s the opposite. I absolutely won’t talk about a work in progress in any detail because, for me, it saps the energy from the project.

    I don’t outline in any formal way, but I do brainstorm and keep a notebook in which I jot down bits of dialogue, scene ideas, character names, etc. I think for what works for me is when I have an idea for a scene, a key moment, I start to work backwards: e.g. So my one character is hanging off the side of a building. How did she get there? Why was she there in the first place? It ends up being a game of connect the dots.

    Reply

    • nerdywordyjana
      Jul 15, 2011 @ 23:28:09

      I’ve tried the connect the dots approach, but I usually get myself lost. XD

      Reply

    • laurastanfill
      Jul 16, 2011 @ 01:24:00

      I used to be on the other side, never talking about my work or revealing anything, but then again, I used to explore my characters until I found plot, so the process was long and secretive. Telling someone about my work often altered my exploration. This time around, I have an outline, and part of the process has been to hammer out what might work or not work in a future scene. Having input about what comes next has helped me avoid a number of missteps, or to find ways to ratchet up the tension in this first draft, so I don’t have to do it all in the second (and third and fourth) round.

      Reply

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