To Plan or Not to Plan?

So you’ve got your story idea together right? You’ve started building your characters and molding and shaping their personalities? Now it’s time to decide whether you are a pantser or a planner when it comes to writing your novel. What’s a pantser, you ask? Well that’s when you are fortunate enough to be able to just sit down at the blank screen of your laptop and begin writing with no plot or course of action laid out before you. If you are one of those writers let me please just give you a virtual round of applause because I have tried writing that way before and the amount of time I had to use up to go back and forth to see if I had this detail or that detail just right, or to check the timeline and make sure that I hadn’t made some huge error and it just did not work for me.

I, like a lot of writers, am a planner and I try as much as I can to plan out every detail that I can. In terms of writing my novel I have realized that I have to have an outline. I typically do a short brief outline with just some of the major points of the story and where the plot twists are and the dramatic parts and the whodunit aspects of the story. After I get a general outline together then I take my character sketches and I begin the more detailed, chapter by chapter, plot twist by plot twist, part of outlining.

Now I think there’s a misconception that when people outline they follow the outline to the tee and I have heard a lot of people say that’s what they don’t like about outlining but the outline is just a general road map for you to follow but the story almost never follows the outline down to the letter. In fact I almost never stick directly to the outline but having that outline does help me stay more on track then I would if I were just writing without a blueprint.

Where the outlining process can get a little broad and diverse is in the method in which you choose to outline. I for one like just getting a legal notepad and writing my outline by hand (this and the character sketches are the only things I write by hand). The other methods of outlining that people typically use are creating a storyboard with a bulletin board or you can storyboard in a digital format now with Pintrest or whatever digital format works for you to create a visual idea of your story. Some people choose to do a graphing (or mind mapping) method. There are also programs that will help you outline in a particular digital format such as Scrivener.

Now you don’t have to outline in order to compose a good story for NaNoWriMo. Outlining doesn’t necessarily make your story any worse or better. Like I said in my last post, it’s just a matter of finding and doing what works well for you. I hope that some of this information helps you and the next post I will be giving you a few YouTue channels that I think you should check out that will help you in your Preptober adventures. Until next time… #HappyOutlining

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

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It’s the First Day of Preptober!!

It’s the first day of October and we’re getting into that holiday season but for writers it’s also a special time of year for a whole other reason. This is the month that we as writers use to prepare for the marathon month that November has become called National Novel Writing Month. Realistically if you’re serious about participating in NaNoWriMo then you probably have already formulated the idea for the story that you’re going to work on in November and you may have even began sketching out the characters for your story. If you haven’t, don’t worry, that is what the month of October is here for. There are many aspects to prepping for the NaNoWriMo experience but I’m here to give you some suggestions over the course of this month that will hopefully help you in the many ways they have helped me.

Today I’m going to focus on the first step you really need which is the idea for the story and typically a main character to center the story around. Now there are many different ways to start your planning process. Some people like to think of the way their story is going to end and kind of work their way backwards. I for one have never been able to start at the end but it works for some people. There is also a very small group of writers who like to start with the middle and build the story outwards, usually building up to the end first and then back in the other direction to the beginning. Then there are those strange birds like myself who actually like to take a story idea from the very beginning (sometimes even thinking of the opening scene) through to the middle and work my way to the end in a chronological order.

Now I know plenty of writers who have to have their character first and I will admit that I have had some stories where the character literally spoke to me and told me the story they wanted told but those occasions were rare for me. Most of time the story that needs to be told comes first and then the character presents themselves to me afterwards. After you’ve built the story idea and this is not to be confused with an actual outline) then you want to begin developing your characters. Some create character sketches that give the basic details of those characters and their background and their personalities and some like to go all in and create a character bible of sorts where the spend several pages on each character.

You have to find what works for you because one writer’s method may not be what works for your story. Once you have your story idea built and your character sketches done the next step is creating your outline, but that I will discuss in more detail in the next post. Throughout this Preptober series I will also include tips and specific book suggestions, as well as sharing some YouTube channels with you that can be of some use and help to you. Until the next time… #BePrepared

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

https://write-2-be.com/

http://write2bemagazine.com/

http://unpleasantlyplump.wordpress.com/ 

http://www.facebook.com/people/Jimmetta-Carpenter/1069480310

https://www.facebook.com/Write2BeMagazine

https://www.facebook.com/confessionsoftheunpleasantlyplump

https://twitter.com/jcladyluv 

https://twitter.com/write2bemag