"It is the future you see..." ---Planning your fic

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Apocalyptic_Jawa, Nov 21, 2004.

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  1. Apocalyptic_Jawa

    Apocalyptic_Jawa Jedi Youngling star 1

    Nov 6, 2004
    I skimmed the past twenty pages on this board, but couldn't find this topic, so I figured I'd throw it out there myself. The question:

    How much planning do you put into your fics?

    Do you prefer a detailed, point by point outline to keep you on track? Or a general, sketchy outline with enough "wiggle-room" to allow embellishment of any new ideas? Or do you throw caution to the wind and just let the muse take you where it will, with no real idea where you're going?

    Just curious, is all.

    I'm a general, sketchy outline person myself. I find I need to know where I'm going, in order to figure out the best way to get there. (Otherwise I tend to lose the story thread and usually wind up abandoning the tale.)

    What about you?

  2. DCWiz00

    DCWiz00 Jedi Youngling star 3

    Mar 29, 2004
    I know this has been talked about in other threads but I don't remember which ones. Honestly, I do both. Normally I have a general idea of where a story will go, and I make a general outline of major plot points so that I can stay on track. But I leave enough room so that I can change a few things as I write. The one fic I have on the boards now has not outline, just the general idea of where I am taking it. It also hasn't been fully written yet. I tend to write as I post. Much to the dismay of my readers when DRL prevents me from sitting down and writing.
  3. Darth-Seldon

    Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master star 6

    May 17, 2003
    I have not written a fanfic in a long time, however I often write science fiction short stories. My general practice has been to,

    1. Devise a plot in my head.
    2. Revise it in my head for several days until I have a general idea of what it is about, the theme, tone, mood, ethos, sentence structure, and all of that. I know what it is all about.
    3. I sit down and begin to type. I don't think about the stuff in my head, I just type and let the story write itself so to speak.

    My method has always been to just think deeply about what it needs to be about and then to allow it to take over the process. Just to write without thinking about what you are writing. Just let the ideas conquer the keyboard and illuminate your computer screen.

    Then once it is written I usually print it and edit it. Sometimes I edit it several weeks later. Then it is just a matter of making changes to the piece.

  4. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Dec 8, 2003
    Ah, this is a good idea for a topic, Apocalyptic_Jawa :D

    I've sort of got two methods, depending on the length of a story. If I'm going to write a short one-poster, then all i need is a very rough outline and i'm content to let the story write itself.

    But for the frustratingly super-extra-long ones, I'm pretty meticulous. The epic i'm writing at the moment has a planned 41 chapters, and i've got about a page outline of what i want to happen in each of those chapters. It's a little daunting to see a 40-something page outline for a fic, but at least it keeps me on track and keeps my story consistent. It also allows me to concentrate on one chapter at a time without having to refer to everything that has come before it.

    But if you can avoid it, i thoroughly recommend making the outline alot less than 40 pages. sometimes i just feel like posting that and letting people imagine the full chapters, rather than bother typing them all out :p
  5. sidious618

    sidious618 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 20, 2003
    I like to create a general outline but leave some wiggle room.
  6. Smuggler_Shidakis

    Smuggler_Shidakis Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jul 26, 2004
    I generally know what's going to happen in the beginning, and in the end. My muse takes it from there, oftentimes confusing me in the process.
  7. CodeName_Targeter

    CodeName_Targeter Jedi Master star 5

    Nov 7, 2003
    When I'm writing fics, this is usually what happens:

    1. I get teh bunny
    2. The first post gets written
    3. The fic begins to get written, but no outline
    4. Occasionally, I'll write a post for the far future to be used in hte fic so I have something to work with.

    In otherwords, I write my fics as I go, I honestly only have a vague idea how my stories will end. Except for the short one shots of course.

  8. Darth-Seldon

    Darth-Seldon Jedi Grand Master star 6

    May 17, 2003
    One method I suggest is this,
    You create a problem for your story. Then you create the solution and you make it up as you go along with plot twists. I guess you would have to be good at that type of writing.

  9. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    The entire plot takes form in my head before I even start.

    Then I go through and work up alternate scenarios in case I want some room to change.

    Then I go to the first post, agonize over all the dialogue first, write that down, then fill in the blanks.
  10. SpeldoriontheBlended

    SpeldoriontheBlended Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 12, 2002
    Usually I don't actually end up writing stuff until I've bounced it around and got a fair idea of the plot or I just start writing straight away and run with it. With Melodies, I've been toying with the ideas for quite literally years, and it keeps changing. But when I sit down to write a section, I usually have a vague chronology of what I ned to have happening in the posts and just write. It usua;lly ends up taking me in new and interesting directions and requires another session of thinking, but it seems to work fairly well...
  11. Predator150

    Predator150 Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jun 2, 2004
    I do prefer to do a sketchy outline, so then there will be room for any changes I may want to make later on.

    At the momement I'm writing my first ever fan fic, and the story has taken many changes, mainly due to the fact that I feel readers may find my original idea to boring, so I did kinda go off track and gave my story more action. Only then I decide to scrap the action and go back to my original idea. So yeah, I feel it is better to just do a sketchy outline first, so then changes can be made, becuase most of time you may want to make changes.

    I know how to start the story, and I know how I want to finnish it, and I also know what I want the story to contain, it's middle part. If you plan you'r story in three parts, that should give you enough room to make any changes.

  12. Lt_Jaina_Solo

    Lt_Jaina_Solo Jedi Knight star 5

    May 27, 2002
    Ooh! I love your title! :)

    I write as detailed outlines as I can when I start writing a story. Nothing is set in stone (my latest story is a great example: fourth outline, sixth draft. I like having a strict outline so I can allude/foreshadow to certain events, manuever characters into certain positions, and create just the right amount of angst/drama/mush/action to have things make sense later.

    The only thing ever set in stone as the very very very general plot idea, like Jaina and Jag can't seem to make their relationship work (one of my stories). Everything else, from the beginning, to the middle, to the end, is completely up for grabs.

    ~LtJS @};-
  13. Chaotic_Serenity

    Chaotic_Serenity Jedi Padawan star 4

    Oct 10, 2004
    It varies from fic to fic. Usually it starts off with one line of inspiration or a piece of dialogue, and I built from it from there. If it's a spur of the moment piece, I'll stype it all up in one sitting. But if it's something I want to take time doing, I'll write it down in an outline format, planning out major scenes with some scripted dialogue. :) It's surprising how much you can draw from something when you just scatter a few words across a page to remember for later.
  14. Uldir_Fenn

    Uldir_Fenn Jedi Youngling star 2

    Apr 11, 2004
    Well, i usually don't write out what i'm going to do. I sort of think of it then write. It just goes from my head to the screen. If i start writing plots, it makes me turn off writing that fic.
  15. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Mar 1, 2002
    It depends on the story. For my vignettes, I usually just think about it in my head and then start writing. For my single too-long story, I have a detailed outline with plot points for each chapter. That way, I can keep it on track plus put hints of things to come in the early chapters and have them show up later. It's very effective and my readers seem to really like it. I do make an effort to have a flow to the long one, so that it doesn't get too boring (although right now I'm in the slow section of the fic - almost all dialogue). I do and did think about it quite a bit so there wouldn't be any continuity problems or characters doing something uncharacteristic.

    As for the actual writing part, I write dialogue first to get the flow, then fill in the spaces. I also view action as a kind of movement dialogue so the action stuff is written the same way.
  16. AlphaTrion-TJW

    AlphaTrion-TJW Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 14, 2003
    Depends on the story, really. For large epic stuff I'll plan out about 99% of where I want to the story to go in broad strokes and I'll nail down the "rules" of the world I"m working in. With short serial bits that aren't really "epic" or have a overall arc they need to adhere too, I'll research the names, nail down some of the custom details that I'll need (tech, politics, religon) then I'll just let the story guide itself.
  17. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Write an outline detailing the important plot points of chapters and story arcs. Otherwise I leave a lot of room for new ideas and plot points.
  18. AlphaTrion-TJW

    AlphaTrion-TJW Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 14, 2003
    I've found, with some stories, the character take on a life of teir own adn no matter what I might have planned, they go off and do their own thing.
  19. Agent_Jaid

    Agent_Jaid Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Feb 21, 2003

    But didn't the little troll say "Always in motion, the future is"? :confused: :p

    I've been of two minds for this. On the one hand, I *can* write with a highly detailed play-by-play plot, I find it rather confining and difficult to be inspired by it all, and thus tend to wreck my carefully laid plots. But then again on the other hand, I'll use three big plot twists. The one at the beginning, the one in the middle that reaveals the one at the beginning, and the one at the end that leaves the story either closed happily or clamoring for a sequal. (and I'm not always clear which is which :p)

    Currently I have some of both fics.

  20. AlphaTrion-TJW

    AlphaTrion-TJW Jedi Padawan star 4

    Sep 14, 2003
    I tend to shy away from detailed outlines simply because I end up getting bored with the story because I've rehashed it all over and over again. I tend stick to "Character "A" goes to Planet "B" and Means VIllian "C" and they fight outlines so that i Can nail down the placemnet and the pacing. Sort of like drawing lines on canavas before filling in the middle with paint.
  21. CodyMonKenobi

    CodyMonKenobi Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 29, 2001
    I start off with a general plot, but then I will go three or four chapters ahead, and plan that out to little specifics. Once, I get them done I'll repeat that step.
  22. Darth_Elu

    Darth_Elu Chosen One star 7

    Jan 2, 2003
    I usually plan everything. I can be quite technical and specific of what I want to happen and when. Sometimes I get the image of a future scene in my mind and I write it so I don't forget it. But yeah, I plan my fics, step by step.

    Though in one of my other fics that is humor...heh, that just sort of comes as it comes. I'm not entirely sure there is a plot to it just yet. :p
  23. VadersMistress

    VadersMistress Jedi Knight star 6

    Apr 7, 2004
    I very rarely plan. I usually just let the story go off on it's own, taking me to different places. I've tried planning but found that it didn't work and it slowed me down. *sigh* My Muse is quite evil sometimes. Even if I did plan my Muse (IW) would just wreck it all to pieces anyway. But, that's a drawback because then I never know what's going to happen in a fic and I usually abandon it. Bad Megan! :)
  24. Darth_Suzi

    Darth_Suzi Jedi Youngling star 3

    Jun 23, 2004
    I adore outlines. My outline is my best friend.

    ...Okay, maybe that's overkill but I still would be lost without an outline. See, I'm a very write-backwards kind of person. I get an image of a scene stuck in my head very clearly, and I embellish on it. If I didn't have an outline for this kind of scene, it ends up being stuck very loosely into the rest of the story and often rather non-sequitor. It might be the best scene of the fic, but it just doesn't fit. With an outline, I have everything planned out, and I can invent the scene to compliment the plot, not the plot to compliment the scene.

    As for how much outline I do... Well, it depends on how you define outline. If you just mean notes, then I have a notebook full of them. I have character profiles (My best friend designed a lovely little format for them in sixth grade, and I still would be lost without it.), random sketches, stuff I've printed from various sites, etc. etc. The actual outline isn't really an outline, because it never works out right. If I decide what goes in which chapter, I'll end up with a huge fluctuation in chapter length, because I never know how long I'm going to spend on each scene. However, I have an enormous block of writing that gives the major plot points in order, and some stuff I want to stick in.

    Just my two confusing cents. :p
  25. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    I'm sketchy outline. More if it's very detailed or has plot twists. I do, however, keep a list of characters and planet names, places, etc. because I find myself losing track... "What was the name of the chick they spoke to in the bar on Galoozian? Oh, yeah..."

    I also have a "Master Timeline" of all my fics and where they fall in relation to each other. It helps me remember whether I can bring OCs back or not (no point having Obi-Wan be best friends with someone he meets for the first timei three years from now!)
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