| by Winter Lawrence |
I always have a plan. It may not seem like it—even to myself sometimes—but when I sit down to write something, the hamster on the wheel has definitely already gotten a workout and she’s rearing to go! Of course, as a writer, I know other writers who are “super planners.” These are the people who go way above and beyond when it comes to planning. I envy them a little bit. I also know a bunch of writers who don’t ever plan a thing; they just wing it, which is also cool in its own way. I like to think that I fall right into the middle of that spectrum; someplace that I like to call “semi-prepared.” For my process, I tend to set up an outline; I do some research; and then I write—I don’t have every scene plotted and I’m flexible on the ending, but I need some type of structure to get started.
You may have a completely different type of writing style, which is awesome (and you should share your secrets!), but I’ve found that as writers, we tend to fall into three distinct categories: the super planners, the semi-planners, and the wingers. Here’s how I break each down…
In the beginning, there was an author, and that author had a plan. This author’s story was going to begin at X and then shift to Y and finally end at Z. Before ink ever touches the page, every scene is set; every character is developed. The universe in question is a fully fleshed out place that already exists in its entirety in the author’s mind. This type of writer has planned, and planned, and then planned some more—probably to what most would consider excessive, but all of that hard work will pay off in the end, because when the author finally sits to pen their masterpiece, it’ll just be a matter of transferring all of those hours of research and study onto the page.
The Semi-Prepared Author
For this type of writer, inspiration tends to randomly strike—sometimes from the most unlikely of places—and an idea is born. Of course, this author can’t just jump right into writing. Oh no. Planning is definitely in order, and plenty of research will be afoot. Actors pictures will be printed and hung; Google maps will be visited often; and as much as every author knows they shouldn’t fully rely upon it, Wikipedia will be frequented and coveted. This writer (and I speak from experience) will have a plan, but there’s a lot of flexibility here and the end product will be just as surprising and amazing to the author as it will eventually be to its audience.
For these guys, a thought will appear—perhaps out of the clear blue or perhaps by a chance encounter—but once the idea takes root, it inspires! This type of author rarely has any particular direction in mind for their story and they’re not only flexible in where their story goes; their writing often thrives when the plot wanders to unexpected places. For this type of writer, the story, very often, writes and molds itself, and the author, for the most part, is just there to take it all in and then pen it to page.
So What’s the Right Style?
Are you a super planner, a semi-planner, or a winger? Or are you somewhere in between? The joy of it is that you can be all of these or none of these. Your style is your own, and as long as it’s working for you, then I say stick with it! Personally, I think that each style has its good and bad points. For the super planners, a manuscript may never make it to the page if the author can’t hash out all of the finer details beforehand. For the semi-prepared authors, the story that they originally intended to write may detour to something else entirely. And for the wingers, they may start a lot of novels, but just as many may never make it to the end. The thing of it though is that every type of planner discussed here has completed a successful novel, so there’s no right or wrong style. As long as what you’re doing is working for you, then I say embrace your process!
I can safely say that when I started my writing career I was a semi-planner, and while I’ve tweaked and reorganized some of my strategies, at the end of the day, I’m still a semi-planner. I know the beginning I want, I know the ending I want, and I know a lot about a couple of characters. That’s enough for me to start. Then I research. I may doodle a character or two into a sketchbook, and I may take notes. I’ll definitely print out pictures and maps. And then I’ll begin. The story may take an unexpected twist or turn along the way, and I may very well change the beginning or the ending, but ultimately, the story will make it onto the page and that’s what all of this hard work is for, to share our vision.
How about you? What’s your right style? Let me know down below and until next time, friend, be well!