Sunday, July 3, 2011

The importance of planning

How many times have you started a novel or memoir, gotten about 20K words in, and then realized you had no idea where the story was going?

Hopefully only once.

However. Speaking from experience and from talking to other writers, it’s all too easy to do multiple times. Sometimes I get so caught up in making sure I’m writing a certain number of words every day that I fail to realize I should check that it’s all going to lead to an ending that makes sense.

This happened to me with the memoir. I had about 30K words and then decided to outline, the result being a complete redo.

Then I started a novel, this time writing the synopsis first. It was a valiant effort, but alas, the novel is now 20K words and I’m realizing I really need to reevaluate where the story is going and how it is going to get resolved. However, at least this time the realization is more about the fact that I need to do a lot more research on some of the topics relating to the novel to ensure that the ending makes sense and is probable. But at least there is an ending.

So now, instead of writing, I’m reading, watching documentaries, and outlining. And I know it’s still writing work, but without the word count ticking upwards, it often feels like I’m barely accomplishing anything.

Anyone else have a word count obsession too? Or participate in NaNoWriMo only to realize everything you wrote during that time had to be redone?

7 comments:

  1. Yep. Right here! I spent a year starting and stopping before I finally realized what I need to do to build a good story. And even though I might not be producing pages, I feel more confident about the story everyday now than when I was just writing whatever came to my head.

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  2. After creating a plan-less, very fragmented memoir, I embrace the idea of planning! Usually it's just a word doc with chapter ideas and common threads I can use, but it helps keep me focused.

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  3. Glad to hear it's not just me!

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