Regardless of what you will do in life you must have a plan moving forward, and the creative field is no different. It is crucial that before anyone begins to plan anything they must come up with an idea. Many have different strategies for idea making but the importance of it is that it comes naturally. Once an idea is formed, it must be molded and explored to truly make it as best as it can be. The challenge is, you are the only one who understands the project better than anyone. This isn’t a review for an exam where a group of people are collectively trying to understand a topic, but rather you, on your own, are attempting to sell your topic. From here the mind tends to wander everywhere from good to bad ideas and everything else in between. While we think of this as the greatest process, it can also be the most stressful. With so many ideas and possibilities, organizing them in a proper way can become a bigger challenge than generating the idea.
Luckily, there are plenty of processes and organizational formats to combat this struggle. Personally, I believe there are no wrong planning strategies so long as you know where everything is located and you’re able to keep track of it all, but there are many who would argue and say that there are better strategies which are more reliable. One such person is none other than freelance editor Ellen Brock who argues that one of the best strategies for planning involves knowing what genre you are writing in and from there being able to deduce what scenes you must have in your story. Suppose you are to write a romance involving two friends who have a crush on the same person. If this is the case, then you know there will need to be scenes where the friends meet the love interest, there will be scenes where they also become closer, and another where the two friends argue about having the same crush. From here you can also begin to place when those events will occur, such as the friends meeting the crush must happen before they fight about it and also before any of that happens we need to have the two friends introduced. From here some questions will arise such as: How old are the main protagonists? How did they become friends? What are their ambitions and goals? These help identify the setting and by exploring them you are able to come up with new scenes to place between the ones you have already created to form a more complete narrative.
Now Brock’s strategy mainly applies to novel writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t applicable to any other form of literature. Overall, it includes a plan for a beginning, middle, and end which all narratives require in some form. Thinking about it this way leads to modifications of Brock’s strategy to best fit whatever style you need. A short story could utilize an umbrella version of the strategy where instead of planning full on scenes you plan smaller moments to create the narrative you want. The moments don’t even require detailed notes at first but could just be a quote you thought of or a setting you wish to exist in your writing. Take time to fully flesh out the idea and add on to it as you plan and overtime you should replace something like a location with a more specific event that happens at that location to move the narrative forward.
The planning strategies discussed thus far can be summarized as outlining. Appearance wise it can seem as the most organized, but as mentioned previously, everyone is different and will have different creative processes. Another strategy which looks much less organized, but is still considered effective, is the clustering topic. This strategy involves the breakdown of topics into single words or names and then linking them together with lines. While this strategy is not used for narrative planning generally, it is good to use in planning relationships between characters, items, and locations. To make the most of this strategy you’ll first want to start by writing your central piece of interest down. Let’s suppose we are doing a character named Luke and we will write his name in the center of the page first. From there we will circle the name in black and assign different colors to signify different relationships. If we were to want to relate Luke with his best friend then, we could use the color green to symbolize friendship and draw a green line from Luke to his friend and circle the friend’s name in green. You could then use blue for family members, red for enemies, and so on. This gives you a clear understanding of Luke’s relationship to others and if you wanted to take it a step further you could write the names of the people he cares about more closer to him and the ones who he cares for least farther away.
Once you have that all discovered, you might still be nervous about the actual writing. The main key here is to understand how you write and how you will convey your ideas in the way you want to. Believe it or not, there is a planning strategy for this too, known as freewriting. Most people think of freewriting as practice for actual drafts or ways to generate ideas, but it’s also a great way to test out whether the narrative you made fits with the writing style you prefer. You can experiment here and write out your story in different styles using different words and moods to experiment. Afterwards, go back and re-read everything you wrote and decide which one you like best. This allows you to be more firm on your decision which should also increase your confidence in making the best final product possible.
The strategies I have named here are but a few of many which allow you to reach the max potential your narratives are capable of. It’s encouraged that everyone explores not only these planning styles, but also strategies that others use. It’s even better when you can design a strategy to be uniquely you and that it works perfectly with whatever it is you wish to work on. The important first step is to take the initiative and try one that looks appealing and from there, shape it into what you would like, and share it with others to help them as well.
I have attached below links to Ellen Brock’s website who was mentioned here:https://ellenbrockediting.com/
And also more information on the strategies discussed here: