Do you plot or do you wing it in your writing.

United States
March 16, 2011 2:56pm CST
I was someone who let the first draft take me where it would. But, now I'm beginning to wonder if plotting might not be the way to go. Everyone's process is different, but I'm finding myself getting a little frustrated with writing myself into corners.
1 person likes this
8 responses
@stevieboi19 (1429)
17 Mar 11
I do a bit of both as I feel a novel needs some kind of structure so you can pace yourself and make your novel seem consistent. I do wing it at times though when I have an idea which I believe could fit the plot although I usually have a consistent ending chapter in my mind so I know how to build up a story to reach such a point . I do think that you need a bit of structure and that most writers do structure their work although maybe not self-conscious of this fact. When you write yourself into a corner how do you get yourself out of it? I myself think it's best just to keep writing even if what you feel isn't appearing as you hope least that way you have a base to come back and work with rather than focussing on getting one part completely right the first time, which essentially could result in you spending a lot of time in trying to complete your text .
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Mar 11
You can't edit a blank page. I agree with your advice. When you're in the corner the only way out is to burrow. Sometimes it feels like you're digging a certain substance that comes from cows, but as long as you're digging, you're getting somewhere. You also right about structure. A novel without a framework is a three-year-old's story. That rambling mess that goes on and on and never gets there. But psychologically, there's a big difference between the gut's perception of following narrative form and actually writing out a comprehensive outline.
26 Mar 11
Yeah certainly you need to have something on the page to ever build your own story, it's just like building a house if you don't have the bricks rezdy then how you going to start building . So essentially even if what we write down in the beginning is complete rubbish we've got something to work with. A novel without structure is pointless I guess as like you sy you'll find yourself getting absolutely nowhere. Sometimes I find though even if your rambling on without structure you may not have a good story but a good idea to either start over or add to another novel, so maybe a structureless novel isn't all that bad unless your working towards a publishers deadline then you'll be stuck when you come up with nothing but another idea for another story .
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Apr 11
I wasn't trying to dismiss rambling writing entirely. I've gotten a lot of great ideas from my rambles into the great wilderness of not on topic writing. Subplots seem to really enjoy coming to life that way. But it's maddening when you're on a deadline and you have to stay on topic. It also sucks when you find that the story really wanted to go a different direction than you'd been writing towards. I've forced a few to conform to what I thought was the direction, it didn't end well.
@Suzieqmom (2763)
• United States
17 Mar 11
It depends on what I am writing. If I already know what the ending is supposed to be, I usually write up a brief outline to make sure I get there. If not, then I just write and watch what comes out. Not sure which system is better; I still get stuck in the middle sometimes regardless of which system I use!
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Mar 11
Really? I guess I was sort of believing the myth that if you plan it all out in the beginning you can avoid the writing yourself into a box trap. Do you find you enjoy one method more than the other? I know some people who can't stand to write without an outline and others who find writing with one to feel too much like "work."
@Suzieqmom (2763)
• United States
22 Mar 11
I prefer free-flow writing; it comes more naturally, but have trained myself to use an outline too.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Apr 11
Writing is a discipline and training yourself is part of the process. Free-flowing feels so good when you're in the mood, but sometimes that vein dries (to mix metaphors) and you're stuck pounding on the keyboard. I'm definitely getting more comfortable with outlining, especially big projects.
@drasnian (548)
25 Jul 11
I do a bit of both! In terms of planning: I plan big things, like the ending, the 'villain' or 'issue' etc. I also create things like mind maps with character information etc in. The majority of the time I wing it. Having the big events planned makes things easier, usually it's just a matter of checking that what I'm writing 'on the fly' so to speak is heading in the right direction according to my planning. If I have particular scenes, comments etc in my head, I write them down so as not to lose them, and then if/when I find somewhere that they fit, I just slot them in, readymade.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Sep 11
That's a really good system. It keeps you on track without binding you too much. I find that even if I don't write things down, I'm keeping certain turning points in mind, but writing things down is imperative. I've lost so many brilliant (at least I think they were brilliant) ideas because I figured if it was important I would remember it later. Silly, really.
• United States
11 Jul 11
I try to start out with the idea of a plot but mostly I just sit down and start writing and hope the story will flesh itself on its own. I've tried doing plot maps, outlines, brainstorming, and I always end up abandoning it halfway through.
1 person likes this
@LaurenInLA (2272)
• United States
2 Jul 11
I write mystery novels and I never plot the first time around. I let my imagination take me where it will. When I'm doing my second draft, I plug up holes, plant red herrings and look for interesting subplots that can be further developed.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Sep 11
Wow. With mystery stories I'd think plotting ahead of time would be necessary, but I can see how letting the story grow organically would work. For me, I find when I write that way, things appear that I hadn't thought of (themes) and weave into the story in new and interesting ways.
16 Mar 11
I always have a general plot in mind for both the entire story and each chapter, mostly a loose chain of important things that have to be included. Other than that though i let my mind take me where it will, i find that stories flow better when you let you give yourself a little freedom or the story telling can become to wooden. Birdie -
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Mar 11
I like this system. Best of both worlds sort of thing. It's too easy to get caught in a rut when writing strictly to outline. Writing for me is a creative outlet and while it takes creativity to get out of some of the corners I've gotten myself into, that's not really what I'm going for. Having a loose grasp of the story and then writing to fit the framework sounds like a good plan. Sort of like building the framework of a house and then customizing it to fit. Thanks.
@zoey7879 (3104)
• United States
16 Mar 11
I tend to do a little bit of both... I write down first my list of general ideas.. Everything from generic char descs to random dialogue. Then I start writing down ideas for the plot... Then comes the outline. Then character descriptions. Tweak outline if needed And then play fill in the blanks :p
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Mar 11
That's a good way to do it. Do you find that your writing still has the spontaneous feel to it? Do you think it would affect your method if you wrote more plot driven material? I'm more a plot person (ironic, I know), but I enjoy the randomness that comes from being a pantser.
@CatGods (4596)
• United States
16 Mar 11
I never plot, I just wing it. I write whatever comes into my head and I never think about it. That's called going with the flow.
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Mar 11
Does going with the flow get you to the end, though? That's one of the reasons for me contemplating the switch. I go and write but have difficulty getting from point A to point B. I hit all the points that aren't in between, but getting to a conclusion is a bit of a challenge.