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How I plan

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The truth is, I’m not much of a planner.

I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda gal.

I think I’m too impatient for planning most of the time and sometimes it’s gotten me into trouble, other times it’s led me on the greatest adventures of my life.  I flew to England a while back with the single goal of going to Stonehenge for the summer solstice and the rest I left up to the winds of fate.  I ended up living in Brighton, making friends and hitchhiking around Europe.  Hooray for no plans.

When it comes to writing I have difficulty planning as well.  Having a vague idea for a story constitutes a plan for me.

My most recent completed novel (in beta reading now) started out as an idea and I didn’t really start plotting until later when events unfolded that needed to be explored.  It was an adventure to be sure, but still a little unnerving as it left me wondering, is this going to work?  As it turned out it did (at least Ben and I think so, we’ll see what other people have to say), but after that writing free-for-all I thought it might be a good idea to try the next book with an actual, full out plan.
Ben and I started that process yesterday.  After a bumpy start (sitting there staring at each other), we went for a walk (apparently the only way we can actually think) and worked out some ideas.

So here’s how the planning is going so far:

Step 1: Idea – the idea for the book came from a short story I wrote (which is how it seems to go for me) and I told Ben.  Ben said…‘hmmm…interesting….’ and off we went.

Step 2: How to plan as we’ve never officially done this we had to work out how to plan, which basically consisted of a discussion about the best way to approach the idea.

Step 3: Characters/research – as many of the characters are based on gods of various pantheons we had to do some research, so we spent some time on good old Wikipedia.

Step 4: Define characters – as this more of a character study than an adventure, the characters seemed more important than the plot.  The plan is to create the plot around the characters but first they all need names, backstory etc…

Step 5: Define the world – as the world has limitations we needed to make some decisions about what it is and how it operates.

Some basic ideas about all of the above is as far as we’ve gotten, but it seems to be going well.  The next steps will involve plotting and more fleshing out of the backstories so that they connect with the main plot and create a little drama.

Ben is perfect for me for a million reasons and one of them happens to be that he loves plotting and planning stuff like this.  We’re essentially planning the story like it’s a D&D game, but instead of playing it, I’ll be writing it.  Personally, I love the writing part most, making the words go together and sound beautiful and interesting and meaningful.  I like to live in the now, minute by minute.  He’s a bigger picture kind of guy which works for me perfectly, because without him, I’d probably just write a lot of rambling novels.

So planning.  I’m still trying to work it out, but it seems to be going well and I know the more we plan now, the smoother the process of writing will be and that will make it even more fun in the long run.

How do you plan?  Have any hints or tricks you use to plan effectively?

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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Write Whatcha Know

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Your life is fascinating.

No no, you say.  My life is boring, dull, I haven’t gone anywhere, done anything.  Not really…

One time when I was in Scotland and I was looking around, wide eyed with wonder.  I was raving about the wild hills, the ancient castles, the way the dark stone gleamed and the green moss sparkled like magic.  A local looked at me with a bored sort of expression and shrugged.  “It’s no big deal,” he said.  I was shocked.  How could he possibly think all that untamed beauty was no big deal?  He was acclimatized.

You are the Scottish local, acclimatized to your life.  We all do it.  When I was a bit younger I had some crazy times and now when I look back it all feels a bit…mundane.  But it’s my job as a writer to make sure I remember it isn’t.  It’s your job too.

Remember that, just because you have lived your life and are used to it, doesn’t mean other people have.  Humans are a nosey lot, they want to peer into other lives, other moments that aren’t their own, find the juicy bits and chew on them.  Your juicy bits are in there, I promise.

I’m currently writing a book tentatively called ‘A Girl Out There’, it’s a story of a girl hitch hiking through America.  I was a hitch hiker once, around Europe.  So I’m having the time of my life writing this book and finding juicy tidbits from my time on the road, embellishing them, changing them up and incorporating them.  It allows me to go back in time and gather up all the things that made me who I am.  A ride down memory lane.

So maybe you didn’t hitch hike around Europe (probably for the best), but I’m positive you have done other fantastic and amazing things.  It doesn’t matter how grand, or small they might be, your experiences make you who you are and that is a story well worth telling.

When we write we allow ourselves to share our voice and this is what people want to read.  People want to feel like they have a connection to us, because they’re acclimatized to themselves and want to hitch a ride with someone else for a change.

Tell me how you write what you know.