Planning, Plotting and the Creative Process

When I get an idea, I write it down. Either on the nearest piece of paper, or I type it into the notes on my phone. The problem occurs when I return to the idea, and realise it was either rubbish or brilliant.

If the idea isn’t strong enough and doesn’t have characters and scenes springing to mind, don’t run with it because writer’s block will be on your doorstep in no time. If you’re passionate about the idea and think it could work, have a go. You’ll never know how good the work could have been if you don’t pick up your pen and write.

I have loose pieces of A4 paper, a scrapbook and an on-the-go writing journal which I use to plan blog posts, magazine articles and stories. I keep an A4 folder for my novel, to keep all my ideas on plot and character development together. Having a pad of sticky notes laying around on your work space is also really helpful for those spontaneous ideas. This can also be applied to essay writing, which I feel like I spend fifty percent of my life doing.

Have a fantastic idea for a novel but don’t know where to start? Draw a map, or a quick outline of the location of the story. For my novel I drew a map that I’ve referred to time and again, and I am so glad that I believed in myself and sketched it when the words weren’t delivering. Drawing can stimulate your imagination and help with the writing. It helps you to visualise your story and your characters. Every time I look at my little map I think, ‘Wow, other people are actually going to enjoy this story someday.’ That is the motivation that will drive your story and keep writer’s block at bay.

What to do when writer’s block occurs? Get out your notebook or folder and read over your notes. You might even find ideas for scenes that you haven’t used yet, and feel inspired. I had ideas for the final battle scene when I was still halfway through the book.

Plan a calendar for your story. I’ve read other writers suggest this, and I have used it before for a novel draft that never really went anywhere. It was my first attempt at following a complex and long story, involving more than ten characters. As far as plot and planning went, it worked. When writing historical fiction, a timeline or calendar is essential. I am currently writing a fantasy novel, so I follow the chronology of plot in my folder, rather than focusing on specific dates.

Find what works for you, and what helps you organise and plot your story.

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