Monday 26 March 2018

Making A Plan - The Creative Process

This has been a piece that I've thought about writing for a very long time. As you will all know, I'm a hybrid, which I talk about here. That said, I do some planning, and I've been asked numerous times if I could share what I put into my plans. So I thought I would break it down for you here, while also letting you know that I have a vlog planned that will go over my personal writing process in the coming weeks.

Firstly, I wanna say that I don't use a particular method. I know there are several out there that a lot of planners use and it works for them, great. I just do what I've always done, with a few added tweaks along the way that I've picked up from basically writing. I've been writing for over seventeen years now and have been published for almost thirteen years. In that time I have tried various different ways to plan my books, some of them worked, others not so much. But I will say that what I do works for me, and that's basically all it's supposed to do. If you find that you can borrow from my own ideas, that's cool, but if it doesn't work for you, that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Every process is different.

To begin with, when I have an idea, I'll open up a notepad on the computer and just let it all pour out onto the screen. I don't put it in any kind of order, I just type and type until I have nothing more to say. When I save it, I'll usually spend the next few weeks adding bits and pieces to it to allow the idea to peculate a little and grow from that first spark into something I can write.

This is where the planning of my hybrid routes comes in. And it is minimal. I basically open a word doc and write one sentence, or one word for what happens in each chapter. Alongside that I'll say what day of the week it is, checking off once a full seven days has passed and so on. I don't always go into detail and will sometimes use short hand rather than a lengthy explanation. With that done, I'll print it and the thought-dump file out and staple them together. This is going to be the document that I go back to whenever I write.

I used to list my characters in the chapter plan bundle, but after a few incidents with tea and liquids making the ink run I swapped to character note cards. This made my life SO much easier, though it got to the point with the Dying Thoughts series that I had to have a small box to keep them all in. I don't usually separate in any order other than the main characters being near the front and the things like school timetables or teachers, being right at the back so that I can quickly find them when I need to. If there are dual POVs then I'll make sure I separate by whoever is linked to which POV. Other than that, it's basically every character ever gets a note-card with a physical description, a job if they have one, and their role in the story. I start with a small cast and that grows as I tell the story itself.

And that's it basically. Once I have my thought-dump done, my chapter plan finalised and my characters created I'm ready to start writing. So that's what I do!

People have asked if I ever get writer's block and I do, but not to the point where I feel like I need to outline more. I know that there are plenty of people who just get an idea and boom, they're off, but I find doing it my way works for me. It allows me to spend some time creating before I get into the meaty chunks of story writing. I also don't have issues when it comes to the editing with the story going off on tangents. It works for me and that's great!

So what does your planning stage look like? Are you a plotter? A pantser? Or are you, like me, a hybrid? Let me know in the comments below!

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