Writing Elements: Planning

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So you have an idea or two for a story, maybe even a setting and some characters, but now what?

Planning!

Depending on what type of writer you are*, this will either fill you with joy or dread. But trust me, even if it’s just a brief description of what will happen in each chapter, a plan is definitely something you should do. It helps keep you on track when you’ve gone off on an elaborate side story and you’re wondering what the main story is supposed to be… or a similar scenario.

*NaNoWriMo has three types of writer: a pantser (basically no planning), plantser (some planning) or a planner (all the planning).

Every person has their own way of planning, but just in case you don’t have a method yet, here’s a few ways you can try.

Firstly, decide whether to prefer to plan in a notebook, with separate sheets of paper scattered around (or flashcards) or on your electronic device, whether its your phone, laptop or tablet. It depends whether you prefer the physical sensation of writing things down or the accessibility of typing everywhere and knowing it can be backed up easier. It depends whether you prefer physically making your notebooks or sheets of paper colourful and decorative, or you prefer being able to edit your mistakes easily on your devices knowing you can move sections as you need.

Secondly, you at least need to have a protagonist, an antagonist and a setting. Having a plot is obviously the most important, but a character and setting is equally as important. I’ll go into further detail about characters and setting in separate blog posts, but without all three, your plan might struggle. Although, this is where the spontaneous writers would say they can figure it out as they go along.

Thirdly, the actual planning. Again, as I mentioned, planning is individual to each person. However, a few things you can plan are the character story arc, chapter outlines, potential new characters, world building and any potential research you might need to do. Or if you’re struggling with your ideas, you can decide what type of stories you want to tell by thinking about what stories you like to read and watch, or by the stories/people that intrigue you. Perhaps it’s a friend who always seems to have the wildest stories, or a stranger you met once but felt something towards them.

How much detail, time and effort you put into planning is up to you, just like what story you’ll tell and how. But planning isn’t as boring or scary as it seems. If anything, it can help get your ideas out, including characters and settings. Additionally, when and where you decide to plan is also up to individual choice. Perhaps you like working at a coffee shop, or perhaps you prefer finding a comfy spot to plan in.

How do you plan your stories, if you do?

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