Monday, 17 August 2020

How I Plan - The Creative Process


HOW I PLAN

I've done a piece on how I edit (which can be found here) but I wanted to also do something about how I plan, not my time, I've done multiple pieces on that (found here and here) but on planning my books. I've told people before that I am neither a planner nor a pantser, but someone who falls in the middle, and as I've met other authors I've found that a lot of people sit somewhere in the middle. So how do I approach planning when I'm about to start a new project? How do I know how much is needed? And how do I know what to do with this minimal information? Let's start with the first one and work our way through.

HOW DO I APPROACH PLANNING?
From the first book I wrote, to the ones I write now, my planning has stayed very similar. It's been honed and grown, but it's along the same lines. The way I work for planning is simply a chapter plan and character notecards. The chapter plan is the main item when it comes to my planning, and how I do this is pretty easy.

I start with a blank word document, I have some idea of the plot points I need to meet, and hit and whereabouts in the the story it needs to be. I write out a line, no more than a sentence, and will write down bits and pieces that will trigger an idea in me. I also make sure that along with that I have the day of the week this chapter happens on. I didn't do this from the beginning but as I grew as a writer I knew that I was losing continuity especially when revising the books.

I will have some idea of how long the book will be and so will know how many chapters there needs to be, and from there I'll work on characters. The way I start planning characters is the main cast all get a notecard, from there I'll add a few other people that I know will be important. Since I write YA, this usually means the parents and any siblings and such.

I don't know ALL the characters that will come up, because of a lot of that happens in the drafting process and when I create a new one they get a notecard and along we go. For my notecards I'll have a general description, age, gender, pronouns, sexuality, and such like that and go from there!

HOW DO I KNOW HOW MUCH IS NEEDED?

This is really a simple one because for me, it's been a lot of books and from there I've learned just how much I need to know before I can get started. Like I need to know the majority of the main plot, some of it can be vague but other parts are not. If I'm writing a crime/mystery then I need to know what's going on with said crime or mystery, I need to know the bad guy and what they'll be doing to avoid getting caught. I need to know when said crimes will be done and whether or not there are external forces that will impact the story as a whole.

But overall, I know how much is needed because I've been doing it for a long time, and I'm just good at knowing how much information I personally need to be able to write effectively and not get stuck, or end up with a book that will be a nightmare to revise and such.

HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THIS MINIMAL INFORMATION?
Again, this is kinda simple in that it comes with knowing my writing process, and how my brain works. Like I usually know the beginning, the middle, but I rarely know the very end, the more I write, the better I get at knowing how to use the information effectively. Like if I have an idea for what needs to happen in this book, then I'll also be able to work out how to weave in foreshadowing, or allowing myself to go down a little path at some point that might not lead anywhere, but might also bring me the best ideas yet.

It's about knowing myself, my writing process, and how I work best. Every writer is different, we all create in our own ways and that's okay. So for me planning is something that'll take a couple of hours at most and then I can easily jump into the story and off I go drafting.

I will just add that while I don't outline extensively for drafting, I do outline when it comes to revising because I need to know what's going to be cut, what works, what doesn't, what needs to be rewritten and the like. And for that I do a similar way of doing things, but add more details to the chapter plan.

How do you plan? Lemme know in the comments down below!

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