How far should a writer plan?

Honestly, I don’t think it should be a lot of the entire book. Mostly I plan out the plot and what has to happen to push it forward. And worldbuilding details when it comes to me. And also the rough personality of the characters and their role. 

I normally keep my options open, and more often than not my stories never go the way I really plan it. Even though it’s still good to have a plan, to see what must be done. And I do tend to make a new plan every few months or so depending on which stage am I in the novel itself. 

Guess, I’m right smack in the middle of being a plotter and panster. My planning tends to be nothing more than a roadmap, where I have a rough idea in mind, some planning but just many routes before I reach the destination itself. And sometimes the ending I envision might also not be the ending itself.

I used to never plan anything at all, and it would really go downhill after a while. Since I either get really bored at the characters, and how they behave. Or the plot itself doesn’t have enough beats, and it might feel underwhelming itself. So, planning helps me to set the mood, the tone and the plot beforehand. 

But detail wise, I would normally not focus on it, except for some basic concept. Before I start to get more specific and some times I get ideas and jot them down somewhere way before it gets useful. 

For me, a spreadsheet wouldn’t do me good. My most well worked plan would be putting down all my ideas and forming a chronological order with them, and it can be moved around depending on coherency or logic. 

And thus I tend to be more or less the type who plans somewhat, like a small preparation before I dive into the novel letting myself write as I go and mostly straightening out most of the details and having it all come together. 

I can’t write a full plot and plan without actually seeing some work before I do a little more detailed planning. Nor can I write with almost nothing but the premise. So, ultimately, I guess somewhere in the middle works best for me.

So, what about you? How far do you think a novel should be planned before the actual writing commences? Please leave your input below as I would love to hear from you. 

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4 thoughts on “How far should a writer plan?

  1. Stephen King doesn’t like plot either. He suggests stories should be written organically, that they will tell you where they want to go. I’m a bit in the middle. I think some initial planning, especially for a larger work is helpful to keep you on track and invested. For my current book, I did a good bit of planning, but part of that was because I am doing something structurally different with it and I needed to be clear how each chapter was relating to the overall story. I made some synopses of the chapters and made note of the key characters (having a list of characters is helpful no matter how organic your writing style is). For short stories I often write down a synopsis, or even a list of scenes, and mill on it for a while. Generally with most serious pieces I write, I let the idea stew in my brain for a while before starting. Even so, the end product often mutates a bunch during the initial writing and a more during revision, no matter how much planning I did before hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input, I do see that we are rather similar on this page about how much planning should be done in one novel. And I do believe that it would be best to write most of the book organically but just having some planning to prevent the chances of me hitting a wall that might take me a long time to get over.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the middle too. I once tried doing NaNoWriMo without doing any planning beforehand and gave up 5 days in as my characters were spending a lot of time eating and making small talk! I think it definitely helps to have key plot points and the ending worked out, but I’m always open to changing things if I get a better idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your input, I fully agree as well. When I didn’t have any planning on the beginning most of my characters often did things that felt extraneous to the entire storyline itself. Or I tended to drag out certain parts with little idea what happened next. I really like you opinion on this issue.

      Liked by 1 person

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