Writing Advice: Planning Your Story


When it comes to planning out your novel or short story, how much is too much? Do you like to know every tiny detail before you start? Or do you wing it? There are some writers who live by planning, and before they even write the first word of their novel, have the entire plot worked out. Then there are writers who don’t want to dictate what happens to their characters, they simply just write and see where things go.

When I first started writing children’s stories I barely did any planning, in fact when I had the idea for Lost Property I jumped straight in and began to write the very first scene. I wrote a big chunk of it this way, until I came to an absolute stand still. I suddenly realised that I had no idea where the story was going and how to end it. I had to go back to the drawing board, so I guess I started planning a bit late.

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Now however, I am getting better at planning. I like to start a new story by writing different scenes, it helps me get to know my characters and see if a plot grows organically. Writing scenes, even out of sequence, helps me find my characters voice and how they interact with each other. For my current project I wrote my entire plot out in advance and I have found that it’s really helping me get the first draft down. That said, I have found myself changing some of the plot details after writing the first ten thousand words of my novel, but that’s not a problem. I like that the story is changing slightly as I get to know the characters. Planning out the entire story in advance has also helped me over come writers block. When I get stuck I can re read the plot and work out whether to slot something new in or move on to writing a different scene.

There really is no right or wrong answer. Knowing where your story is going and also leaving room for the story to grow and change organically is important. Sometimes it is about finding your own happy medium and more importantly, having fun.

What kind of writer are you? Do you like to plan or are you more inclined to wing it?

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