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Stop! Planning time

Yes, I do have the MC Hammer song in my head, for some reason…

I recently read through all 17,000 + words of Chasing Ascension. The first chunk is good. It’s exciting, and action packed and I love it. And then I obviously hit a bit of a wall and wasn’t sure what to do next because my characters head out of the city and do some thinking, and then they head back into the city. The only valid reason for leaving is to hide from the people searching for them, but it is still obvious to me that I was floundering.

And then I had a plan! And I wrote til I ran out of plan, and left off with my characters in limbo again – they aren’t really sure what to do, and to be honest, I’m not sure what they should be doing either.

This seems to be a pretty common thing with me. I have many short stories hanging in limbo because I wanted to just start writing. I used to be a good pantser – or maybe I just thought I was, and now I know better? I really couldn’t tell you which, all I know is that when I have big ideas, fun ideas, I just want to get writing and I typically don’t take the time to develop those ideas, to figure out where they are going, or where they will end up. Not every story seems to evolve naturally – especially not those stories where the characters are out of their depth. And I mean WAY out of their depth.

Perhaps that’s where my problem lies. Normally, I follow the character. They drive the story, they make choices, and respond to situations. In CA, both the main characters, and myself, have no idea whats happening and so they CAN’T drive the story for me. I need to stop and plan.

I hate planning…

Does anyone want to do it for me? No? Okay, I guess I better get to work then.

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15 thoughts on “Stop! Planning time”

  1. It’s so funny that you wrote this blog today. I’m having a similar issue. I usually let my characters lead me, but this past week I had to sit down and plan. I think I have it all figured out now, so hopefully I can get writing again.

    1. Hope the writing goes well now, Heather 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! It’s always nice to know we’re not alone with our writer traits 😉

  2. I think there’s a good compromise – or rather there are different kinds of compromise. Sometimes you can let the characters do their thing, but an overarching structure for them to work within doesn’t hurt 🙂

    Scrivener is making me a lot less grumpy about planning (yeah… I promise I’ll stop going on about Scrivener one day…)

    1. You can go on about Scrivener as much as you want to 🙂 I don’t mind! I figure one day I’ll have the headspace/desire to actually utilize an awesome writing programme too, just not right now.

      And I think you’re right. An overarching structure is a great thing! Normally, I think I have that. I need to find it for this new novella before I write. I have a feeling I’ll be scrapping the last several thousand words, cutting back to where I had a plan and working forwards from there – feels a little like I am in a corner at the moment.

  3. Perfect post for me today! In my last novel, the characters led the whole way, and I thought I would let my mc do that in my new novel, but then I started second guessing her. I stopped writing and started to plan. Now she’s gone mute. I should probably apologize and start listening again. 🙂

    1. Heh, yes, listen!!

      I have just started a new document for this piece, its now 5,000 or so words, instead of almost 18,000. Which is a tad scary, but I feel way better now that I’m not backed a corner.

  4. I had the same issue before I started SoCNoC which pretty much cemented my decision to put my original choice aside until I had more of a plan, and work on (the apparently more popular) Wishful Thinking.
    My issue wasn’t so much not knowing where I was going but knowing how to tie together numerous character plot lines, but i guess it really all comes to same end.
    Good luck planning 🙂

  5. I have a very similar problem. I’ve been trying to teach myself to enjoy plotting/planning… but my brain has such a hard time grasping it. And I really just want to write. I love to pants… you know, right up until I hit a wall. What’s working really well for me right now? I figured out the key turning points/vague ending/plot arc for the one I’m working on… but the actual scenes themselves are completely vague areas. It seems to be a really happy medium between pantsing and plotting for me. -fingers crossed- Maybe just try figuring out your turning points and run with it?

    1. Yeah, I think that’s the best plan. I need the room to grow and move, and my characters do too – but I also need a general direction to head in! Thank you.

  6. Your title make me smile. Now I’ll probably have that song running through my head all day!

    I’ve found that if I have an inkling of an ending in mind, even the most forceful characters stay on the page. But, and this has happened more than once, that supposed ending starts to shift as character muscle their way into my head. So, it’s not so much the planning, but the idea of what will happen. Usually it does. Occasionally something else occurs, but I’ve learned to trust that instinct. Rarely, if ever, am I disappointed! 🙂

    1. haha, I hope the song didn’t bug you too much 😉 They use that same tune for a nappy ad here ‘Stop, Potty Time!’ – Lauren loves that.

      I’m with you on the idea. I don’t have that yet, though I am closer. I know where they need to get, mostly, but no idea how to get from here to there – I deleted a huge chunk (rather, I started a new document), and am feeling much better. I have a rough outline. Oh, thank goodness!

  7. Glad to see that lots of people have this problem – I’m always caught between planning, and then getting stuck in too much detail, which leads me to flesh out my characters more and more which then exposes how they don’t really fit into the plan, so I change the plan and go round all over again……
    So – I am trying to just blurt a plan, a backstory, character biogs, world building all down in a free-form sort of way and hopefully, an actual story will lurch forth. We will see. It doesn’t help that I have about 4 different ideas all vying for space in my head.

    1. Do you use OneNote? I’ve found it’s a great space to blurt all that info down and have it there, for when you need it. Sometimes it pays to get the stuff out of your head so that you have room to think! I love looking back at the tabs for different ideas and going ‘oh yeah! that’s so cool! I need to write that’.

  8. I’ve become a planner, but I still pants write a lot. (man, it’s a good thing we all know what that means!)
    I tend to plan out the plot, the major scenes and then pants write around that, usually that’s where a lot of my character background comes from. Sometimes, when I run out of plan I’ll wing it, but like you said above about your characters, the aimlessness usually shows up in the writing.

    And, thanks for the MC Hammer ear worm!

    1. haha, you’re welcome Kate 🙂
      I think sometimes aimlessness is okay, but not in books like mine 😉 And, I think if you do pants, sometimes that will crop up a lot in first drafts – while you work out what comes next, your character works it out too. I actually have conversations about what they might do, and even one that goes over all the facts/information they know to see if they can figure out what comes next – I’ll try anything to figure out the problem, but none of that worked!
      Now I am rambling… all to say, I did a rough outline (other than, the end, I still am not sure how that happens), and cut a bunch of words and I’m on track now! yay!

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