Hi, I want to ask if you ever use template planning tools when you write? I’ve just made a site Story Planner, to offer these online. It has character outlines, structure plans, formula for log lines, that kind of stuff…! Are you someone who likes a plan or do you prefer to jump straight in and write. :)

Hi! Thanks for the question.

That sounds pretty neat! It looks like there’s a subscription fee, though. 🙁 I might try it out sometime when I’m not scrounging for rent. 🙂

I personally have a lot of different methods. Sometimes, planning it out to the last detail is exactly what I need.

But other times, I can work with only the barest of general plot points.

I’ve had some times–specifically short stories–where my plans ended up going awry because they didn’t go with what the characters had morphed into as things went on.

I think what’s worked best for me is to have some concrete major plot points and then figure out where to go from there.

However, “concrete” doesn’t mean “planned out to the last detail.”

I stumbled across a wonderful, complex character because all I had written down was “they somehow get into the city.”

That “somehow” has launched so many plot points in this series, and the character who was introduced to cover the “somehow” is now getting re-plotted in some down-right massive ways. She’s going to have at least two novellas now.

All because of “somehow.”

Weasel words like that are the kinds of words that allow you to get creative. Instead of including wiggle room in your actual text, include wiggle room in your outline!

It also helps to sometimes set up limits for yourself when you’re trying to get in the zone.

For example, one flash fiction I had to write for a class was about someone looking at a lake after they have committed a murder. But you cannot reference–indirectly or directly–the murder. That’s definitely one of my favorite pieces, and it gained a fair amount of praise from a professor that is generally very critical and does not give out compliments, like, ever.

I genuinely hold the belief that there is no one “true” way to write. Everyone has their own methods that work for them. And I think you don’t have to always use that method.

It’s the same as when you, say, really like a movie but you don’t like all of the merchandise for that movie. You don’t have to like it just because it’s based on the movie. But that doesn’t mean you don’t like the movie anymore.

I also like to set up my characters before I set up my plot. I need to know who they are and what they’re like before I can firmly settle into a plot that fits the situation. Some plots don’t work simply because the characters just wouldn’t naturally react the way they need to in order for the plot to happen.

But planning out at least the bare bones of a plot is necessary for me to get moving on a project.

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