The Writing Habit: Planning

So, as promised, here is my thoughts on Planning storied thoroughly before writing them.

I think I’ve always been a natural Pantser, so this has been the harder thing for me to get my head around at all.

In order to start, I’ve invested in a giant notebook, along with a large blank pad of paper. I’ve heard there are other methods.

Lillian Heart swears by planning all her stories on computer, but that is far beyond me. Apparently it involves spreadsheets, word documents, and folders, but this is not my style. For anyone who works well with PCs, do give it a try.

I’ve also heard of using programs such as Scrivener to make lists and folders and write down details. Again, not my thing.

My thing is paper. I find that the written word on screen is scary, whereas the written word on paper, oddly, feels less permanent, less intimidating. And thus, I scrawl.

For anyone else trying Planning on paper, don’t be afraid to scrawl. Write notes coming off other notes. Write in the margins, write on the backs of paper, on sticky notes. Above all, write in big flowing diagrams. This has helped me hugely. Paragraphs are hard to follow, hard to see through to the salient points. Flow graphs are easy. Bite-sized chunks of info and big arrows? Yes please.

Character Bios go at the start of each notebook section, with a few pages left clear for all these details. It’s very helpful, if nothing else, to have a list of characters’ eye colours, hair colours, heights, preferences, etc. It saves the awkward situations where characters unexpectedly dye their hair halfway through a scene 😉

All in all I’ve found the process very freeing. I’ve been using a variation of the snowball technique, where you write the big picture, then you write a longer version of each part, then a longer version, and so on and so on. I still can’t bring myself to write down to the very smallest details, but they are usually easy to fill in when I turn to the PC for the true manuscript.

Is anyone else here a Planner? Got any tips for maximising Planning success? Or got any gripes with Planning your books?