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  • Brainstorming

    Do you guys sit down to write already knowing what you're going to say, or do you do some sort of exercise to figure things out?

    I've tried freewriting, bbut I feel like I'm wasting ttime I should be spending on actual projects. For me I think it goes best when I already have an idea and just have to write it, but Im not sure I could finish a whole novel that way. What if I get stuck partway?

  • #2
    I need to brainstorm before I begin. It might be because of my job but I really don't like writing free - I need to know what I'm trying to achieve before I can write a scene. For novels I write a very loose outline, perhaps 1-3 sentences per chapter, and the later part usually changes significantly as I begin writing and flesh out the characters more or get new ideas. I wrote my novella without an outline, but I still knew the sequence of events before I wrote it.

    Some people claim they can write a whole novel without knowing what will happen in later chapters, but if I'm really honest I don't believe them. Well, I believe the ones who say that and never finish a project. I think we all plan, but some of us plan in our heads and some of us write it down, and some of us plan more consciously and some more unconsciously. I also think we plan to different degrees.

    I think we all need to find what works for us. You already think you might not be able to write a cohesive novel without a bit of planning, so try minimal planning - maybe just write out your beginning, middle, and end in a paragraph each - and see how it goes. If you get stuck then that's fine, you just go back to your plan and flesh it out more. Let us know how you get on!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Tenderiser View Post
      and some of us plan more consciously and some more unconsciously.
      I increasingly think I'm in the "unconsciously" realm. It's disturbing how often I discover, "Oh, if I change Tinything and other Biggerthing and Bittything, those scenes just FIT!" I still write a ton of scenes that will be thrown away, but the percentage that fit suggest that there's planning somewhere in my brain.

      I have also discovered that when my brain condescends to reveal stuff to me, it isn't, "Because of blah, blah will happen." It's "Blah will happen. I'll tell you why someday. Maybe. Meanwhile, just write blah, OK?"

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      • #4
        I think it's hard to separate our subconscious cleverness at planning from our conscious cleverness at figuring out ways to make things fit. I mean, there are an infinite number of ways for us to take our stories and I think sometimes that vastness can stall us out. It seems impossible to ever pick from all the choices. But once you make one choice, there are fewer options for where to go from there, and that allows you to make more choices from the reduced number. But I don't think the choice ever disappears, really. I don't think, at least for me, that the earlier decisions made subconsciously have ever been SO limiting that there weren't more choices for my conscious mind to make later.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bayview View Post
          I think it's hard to separate our subconscious cleverness at planning from our conscious cleverness at figuring out ways to make things fit. I mean, there are an infinite number of ways for us to take our stories and I think sometimes that vastness can stall us out. It seems impossible to ever pick from all the choices. But once you make one choice, there are fewer options for where to go from there, and that allows you to make more choices from the reduced number. But I don't think the choice ever disappears, really. I don't think, at least for me, that the earlier decisions made subconsciously have ever been SO limiting that there weren't more choices for my conscious mind to make later.

          Confusing! I think I see what you mean, though. Whether we plan something ahead of time or work something out later, whether it's conscious or unconscious, it's all kinda the same?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by PhonyCaca View Post


            Confusing! I think I see what you mean, though. Whether we plan something ahead of time or work something out later, whether it's conscious or unconscious, it's all kinda the same?
            Not the same, necessarily, but I think it's impossible to be sure which is which. That's kind of the point of the subconscious mind, right? We can't be sure what's going on in there!

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            • #7
              I had a vague plan but I think I started writing too soon. I went way off the planned path and now I'm in a mess with a sprawling novel that I'm going to have to edit into something coherent. Next time I will plan more thoroughly!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by MacArbour View Post
                I had a vague plan but I think I started writing too soon. I went way off the planned path and now I'm in a mess with a sprawling novel that I'm going to have to edit into something coherent. Next time I will plan more thoroughly!
                It may not be too late to pull things back together this time. I find I almost always deviate from any original plans I make, but I often stop periodically through the writing process and sort of re-group. I make a new plan, then deviate from that one...

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                • #9
                  I brainstorm my characters a lot. Perhaps more than I should, as it does lead to them occasionally telling my outline to f-off and going to do their own thing. I don't so much make an outline as set 5-6 milestones the characters need to reach and then be willing to let them kind of guide how they get there.

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