Okay, so you’ve got the spark of a story in your head and now it’s time to write. But where to begin? Let’s talk strategy.
There are several ways to go about things:
Type-A kind of personalities tend toward plotting out their works, but how extensively you plot is entirely up to you. Following a predetermined plan can make it easier to see the bigger picture, and frees you up to focus on just writing what will lead you to the desired ending. It can be nice going into a writing project knowing exactly where you’re headed, down to the characterization, subplots, and resolution. Though there is quite a lot of work upfront, this is generally a quicker and more efficient way to finish a work so if you’re working with a tight deadline, take note!
However, some writers feel that plotting is too restrictive, making the process feel less than creative. It can also be harder to change your mind when writing a very plotted out work because it may cause you to have to do extensive rewrites. If you want to start plotting but you’re not sure where to start, check out our article on planning, part of our Building a Book series.
When you choose to utilize the ‘bounce around’ strategy, you’re definitely winging it. This is a better way to go if you’re more carefree, or if you just want to see what could develop. Stephen King is known to prefer to write this way, and he has argued that he can tell when a novel has been too heavily plotted because they feel stale. When you choose to write whichever scene may occur to you at the moment, it often feels like your characters are helping direct you, which in turn makes the story itself feel more natural.
There is of course some downfall to writing in an unplanned manner. Bounce around writing can become chaotic and hard to piece together. It also often results in writer’s block or feeling stuck with no end in sight, which in turn can become a litany of ‘in progress’ or abandoned projects. Writing random scenes makes it harder for a piece to feel cohesive, and sometimes connecting the dots is harder than it might’ve seemed to begin with.
Do you fall somewhere in the middle? No worries, there’s a way to be ambidextrous about this. Por que no los dos, right? This way you can use the benefits of both to your advantage. With this model, you would plot things out loosely, and be very open to changing directions.
Some writers use this as a method of free writing (also known as stream of consciousness writing). If you choose to write this way make sure not to judge yourself, just write truly whatever comes to mind. Timing yourself is also recommended, and don’t reread or edit what you’ve done until you’ve come to that stopping point.
Let us know which version works best for you, or if you have another mysterious way, we’d love to hear about it in the comments!