Sunday, 3 March 2013

Crafting a Plan

I started work on a novella for someone this week, and one of the first things I had to do was craft a plan to show them how to take their general idea into a more detailed chapter by chapter breakdown. I've also put together several plans for my own things, and I think it's worth making a few observations:

  1. First, a plan is usually a good idea, at least for me. I suspect for quite a lot of people. I've tried starting things with no idea where they're going, but quite often they seem to head in the direction of dead ends. The start doesn't bring about the ending, either. Yet there's nothing to stop a plan being in someone's head.
  2. Other people's structures can help, but they aren't a magic formula. There are many writing structures floating around, of various levels of complexity. They all represent valid ways of analysing story, but not one represents a more valid way of doing things than your own sense of what should happen next.
  3. Which means that sometimes, writing down your own understanding of structure can help. Do you think in acts or not? Do you think in terms of stages of character growth, key steps along the way or something else?
  4. By the same token, software for writing and plotting can force you into approaches that don't suit you. Never do anything because your favourite structure says you must. Do it because that is what you know needs to happen.
  5. Plans can take many forms. I generally progress from a premise to a kind of micro synopsis to a chapter by chapter summary, to a full synopsis. Other people may work in other ways. In general, I like plans that consist of short segments initially, so that they can be changed easily.
  6. I like to keep plans quite general and open to change. I know that I need to leave room for the imagination, or it feels like I'm writing by rote. That often means leaving space to change minor elements, or even re-plot completely towards the end.

No comments: