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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Planning and the Writer

This week I want to talk a little bit about planning. I’ve been in RWA some twenty years and I have learned all ways to plan and scheme and put it down on paper.

I’ll be honest, I’m a pantser by trade and I usually like it this way. Lots of writers are, so I know I’m in good company. But in all honesty, there are times when I do have to plan whether it be a story to fit an anthology or a much longer series.

Most of my plans start with a germ of an idea. Sometimes it will start with the title or the characters themselves. I almost never start with what is going to happen in the story except I know I want the characters together. Otherwise, there is very little plotting going on here. This is where I’m starting and no more.

There are tons of great places to learn how to plan. Most are called bootcamps and they can be great. The one I took through Rose Colored Glasses was fantastic and I happened to use their technique on a series I was planning at the time I took the class. Their technique involves a lot of spreadsheets and really digging into the characters. You look at all sorts of motivation of each character and make sure you have it down before even putting one word down on paper. It was one of the best yet hardest writing classes you’ll ever find. And inexpensive to boot! Here’s the website for you to look it up:

One of my favorite planning techniques is to write down what is to happen in each chapter. This is a very easy and simple but effective way to plan without really planning. I use this technique most often and just love it but it satisfies the pantser in me. When I’m writing a story, I do occassionally get stuck and don’t know just where I want to go. At that point, I think about just how many chapters I plan to have in that particular story then I make a page in the story file for each of those chapters.

Next, I look at where I am and I already know I want to accomplish a great ending. Then I start making the logical steps from the point I’m at in the story to the end I want. Sometimes there are five items per chapter, sometimes twenty. But what I’ve done is much, much more because I’ve basically given myself a roadmap to the end of the story.

Those are the two techniques I use when writing and there are thousands more. Here’s a few websites I’ve found useful:

One other thing I’d like to mention. While planning and plotting do go hand in hand, I see them as mutually exclusive in this case. I can plan novels without all the plotting detail that some writers require. It really depends upon your style. I’m a pantser and my planning is minimal where if I was a plotter, my planning/plotting would be intense.

Hope that helps some new writers out there. Let me all know just how your planning sessions are going as I'd really be interested! See you all next week!



Erin Sinclair said...

You find the coolest sites, Lynn!


Lynn Crain said...

Thanks, Erin. I just love to browse...LOL!


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