The Importance Of Planning

I’ve been quite busy the last few weeks. Not only have I had my posts for here and articles for Solidus to do, I’ve also been spending time working on my own novel. At the moment I’ve written around 29,000 words over the past few weeks which equates to about 70 pages in book form according to Word. I’m not going to share any other details because that isn’t the reason for this post. I’m not showing off.

As it happens, this isn’t the first attempt I’ve made at writing a book. During my school years (most notably between the ages of 13-16) I used my spare time to explore my abilities as a writer. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I wanted to see what I was capable of. So, once an idea had formed in my head, I  would start writing. It would be fair to say that my first two stories were pretty terrible. The plot and the overall premise were questionable. However the style was definitely my own and the writing was actually pretty decent. It was good practise for me and the different perspectives that I attempted helped me develop.

My third effort was definitely an improvement. It was more focussed, more original and I was determined to take it further than the other two efforts which eventually ran out of steam. So I prepared myself. I drafted an outline and thought about how I wanted things to progress from the beginning to the end. Did it help? Nope.

The problem was I didn’t do enough. Like the others, it trailed off after 100 pages and I lost interest. I decided the plot was stupid and gave up. There was no real depth to it, no structure.

I still have the story on my computer. I even went back to it and discovered a way to adapt what I’d written into a better story, only to lose my page of corrections when my hard drive corrupted. And despite my best efforts, I can’t remember what I wanted to do with it. Annoyingly, I’ll have to give up on it again. BUT this entire problem could have been easily avoided if I had planned it from the beginning. The flaws could have been ironed out and it could have been structured. Instead it lies as a reminder of my potential losing out to laziness.

So when inspiration struck me again, I was determined not to make the same mistakes. This time I really focussed on the plot, adding in new elements and ideas that I felt would help further enhance the storyline. I questioned myself and I questioned the plot. Was this right? Would that make sense? And I looked at character development. How would their stories pan out? What needs do they have, what obstacles are going to stop them? I tried to break everything down into small segments so I could then put it all together into what I hoped would by my own little masterpiece.

And the result? So far I have my beginning, middle and ending outlined in (fairly) meticulous detail. My next step will be to create all the specific scenes that will go in each act. Once I’ve done that I’ll know how my story is going to progress from start to finish.

That, however, doesn’t mean I’ve planned out everything. Considering I’m always thinking about new ideas and situations that I want to weave into my story, I think it would be impossible to do that. And to do so would just restrict my creativity, which as a writer, isn’t something I want to do. But by creating a structure I’m able to explore different scenarios, knowing that if I get stuck I can refer back to it for guidance. It’s a little similar to planning a driving trip. Providing that you know your destination and the route you are going to take, there is nothing stopping you from having a few detours on your journey. Whenever I start to get lost I can just conclude my train of thought and move on to the next scene.

Now planning this book doesn’t guarantee anything but I feel it has given me the best possible chance of completing it. After all, what is stopping me? And regardless of what happens after I’ve finished it, it’ll still be a great achievement. I will have created my own book and there would be something to show for my efforts. Whether this novel is successful or not doesn’t really matter because I would have proved that I’m capable of doing what I set out to do. Of course I’d love to make millions but even if it didn’t, I’d still be proud of myself. But that is something to think about in the future. For now though, I’m just excited to start this journey. Who knows where it’ll take me?

Right then, I best get back to it. This book isn’t going to write itself.

End note: I would like to mention that my internet died just as I was about to publish it. As a result all the corrections I’d made were lost and I had to start again. This is my excuse for this not being as good as the original draft, which because nobody saw it, you’ll just have to take my word on it being absolutely amazing.

There is probably another message in there somewhere about planning ahead or saving or something, but I’m too tired to find it.

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