“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
Are you a meticulous planner, or do you let your ideas and characters drive your novel? I have written posts in the past about the perfect structure for a post. Although I follow this, I don’t always plan my posts.
In the beginning, I have a headline in place. Later I will refine this into a killer headline. I also have a rough idea about where the post is going and the information I want to include. For some posts, I will plan this in detail. Most, however, I let my author’s voice guide the writing.
Five Ways to Plan
There are many techniques you can follow to plan, here are five of the easier and quicker ones.
Always carry a notebook around with you to note down ideas when they spring into your head. I am old school and go for a notepad, but you can use a note application on your phone.
Whenever you think of something note it down before it leaves your head. Use a separate file or page for each idea, this way you have room to expand later on. Write down everything you can think of which relates to this idea. Don’t worry about complete sentences, grammar and spelling.
These are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. Depending on your learning style, will depend on whether you can use them or not. For non-fiction, they are a good tool. For novels, they can become a little hard to work with.
The basics of a MindMap is you start with a central idea in the middle. You then work through the possible ideas that could be included with this topic. From there you add all the other details you wish to consider.
You could even use every arm, coming from the centre, as a subheading for your paragraphs.
Use a simple list to plan your post. Start with the main topic and then fill in five subheadings. Under these, list all the factors you want to include in your post.
Keep this linear plan in front of you and write your draft, following each section in order.
Post it Notes / Flash Cards
This is an excellent method of planning, especially for those longer pieces of work, such as a novel. Write all the topic headings on a post-it or flash card. Turn it over and then write three or four points for each of your cards.
Each card or note is a subheading, on the back is the contents of your post.
The big benefit of this system is that you can then move and rearrange the notes many times. You can move them to get a structure you are happy with.
I am not a big fan of applications when it comes to planning your writing. I know from speaking to other writers that some have great success at using them.
However, for me one application stands out in front, this is Scrivener. This program allows you to plan your writing in an electronic post-it note format. You can move your electronic notes around to finalise the structure.
Each of these files can then be expanded on separately to write the post.
Does planning make you a better author?
“Outlines are the last resource of bad fiction writers who wish to God they were writing masters’ theses.” Stephen King
There are many authors that just write and have no plan of where their novel is going. Instead, they like to be led by their characters. Most have an idea of the destination they want to reach, but no idea how they are getting there. Chris Carter and Stephen King have both reached great success with this system. Both let the characters drive the story.
“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” Ray Bradbury
A well thought out and planned piece of writing will show the readers you have your ideas in order. It will clearly state the points you need to discuss and enable the reader to follow the post with ease.
Successful quality posts will lead to more followers.
What methods do you use to plan?