My Planning Style

I’m Jasper, and I’m a plotter.

I’ve mentioned in my old posts that I like to have a direction, concept, and plot to work with when I finally get down to the paper, set my fingers to the keyboard, and begin to write. I love to simply know what to write – and then focus on crafting the words like I would with art. Indeed for me, I compare the writing process to something akin to sculpting a beautiful marble statue. One must have a vague idea of what to do before you set yourself to the task. Each of my stories are based on a concept that came up in my mind – but to expound on that idea, that small seed of inspiration – I require time prior to nurture that idea, then get them down on the page.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on my major rewrite of the The Immortals Cafe, however – I think today I’ll talk about one of my other NaNo ideas.

I’m a major fan of Harry Potter – in fact, I write fanfiction for only 3 fandoms, and one of them Harry Potter. Though I have written only short stories with the Harry Potter universe – this year I found myself struck by the mother of all plot bunnies. A ridiculous crackship between two characters that I shall not name, and shall not describe. After all – I won’t be publishing this on my blog, I have to set a certain distance between fanfiction and my writer’s handle.

Normally, most of my stories span over the course of a month or two. In fact, the longest story I have written ran for about a year or so – and that hasn’t turned out too well. This plot bunny however, promises to take things to a new level – charting the lives of two particular characters for almost 30, if not 40 years of their life, and with almost 5 years of prose before I finally get them to get together.

Such a monstrous fanfiction which I envision to take at least 100000 words to complete would therefore require massive amounts of preparation.

As a fanfiction writer – I pride myself on being as close to the canon-narrative as possible, adhering to the timeline and plot of the series in question. No doubt these two characters, minor as they are, had their role to play in the events of Harry Potter. I must of course, pay due homage to that. There are canon details that I must not ignore. Such preparation is incredibly hard to deal with – thus leading me to tell you all how I plan my novels.

My stories must balance both character with plot. When it comes to character I do many things, such as noting down their physical features (going so far as to draw them), charting out possible relationships with other characters, defining their key character traits, holding various conversations with them interview-style, and the list goes on.

However, once I have all this down – I get into my idea bubble, charting out various ideas for the story as they pop into my head. I love this part of my planning process the most – because ideas appear to me almost out of the blue, sometimes surprising me with their ingenuity and brilliance.

When about 30-60 minutes of this planning time has passed, I would have a good 2-3 pages of ideas filled out. If satisfied, I move to getting all these ideas onto a word document in chronological order – necessitating lots of additional head-wringing and research. When should they meet? How would they meet? Do you think they would strike up a friendship quick enough? Such becomes my question, till I have all my important plot details and interesting ideas in a nice, chronological flow.

As this point, I would have each year with all the changes, main events and interesting topics charted out. Seeing this, I can begin to plot the dynamic of the character’s relationships and their personal growth – something that is fun to do because I decide when and where should they become more friendly with each other. I fit the dynamic of the friendship and romance to the events I have plotted – and if the need arises, flesh out more events. Once I have all that I need down – I begin to break them down into chapters which would then form the basis of my writing pursuit within NaNo itself.

And when the day comes – I would have what I want to know, and then immediately I can envision each chapter in its entirety. What kind of interesting things happen, what gold pieces of dialogue would appear, what kind of setting, time and situation my characters would be in.

And I tell you, that helps me write fast, write well, and write with the freedom of expounding on bare-bones to have more fun with the characters and playing around with their actions.

Why?

Because I have the plot out in my head, and I can focus on making my characters loved.

I’m Jasper, and I’m a plotter.

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5 responses to “My Planning Style

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