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Mimishu1995's avatar

Writers, how do you prepare for a big story before writing?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (4619 points ) September 13th, 2013

I have a habit to plan everything before writing a story. With a short story the work is very easy: I can picture everything happening in 5 to 10 minutes. But how about a bigger one, with a complex plot? I find it difficult to picture everything. How about you? How can you prepare to write?

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13 Answers

Seek's avatar

I wrote ideas on index cards, which I then taped to my bedroom wall. That way, I could add, take away, and move around scenes easily.

Mimishu1995's avatar

That’s a good method. I’ll try, but I think I won’t tape anything on any wall, it a bit messy. I just tape them in a big notebook. By the way are you writing anything now?

ETpro's avatar

I’ve done a technical book, and am now working on a novel. The novel digs into areas I need to research, so I’m in that phase of the work now, actually collecting notes in Excel with full attribution as if I were required to do a bibliography. That let’s me refer back to any work for a deeper view than the short quote I have saved would provide.

While I am doing the research, as ideas pop up, I note them on the computer equivalent of note cards, letting me rearrange them without leaving tape marks on the wall.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

How can you prepare to write?
I don’t. I don’t plan my writing unless it’s a paper. If I get a good idea, I immediately write it down and I just go with the flow.

gondwanalon's avatar

First figure out what it is that you want to say and then write it down.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Michael_Huntington you are really good. I don’t think I can do that :(

Bart19's avatar

I write down a summary of the entire book divided in untitled chapters, along with character descriptions (A rather detailed record of the characters’ personalities, names, appearances, hobbies, the month and year they were born in and, if they’re a child of the main protagonist, their conception dates and birth dates). If I’m writing fantasy I also write down the mythos of the world I’m creating.

Seek's avatar

Yes, a detailed world map is indispensable in fantasy writing, as well.

longgone's avatar

I’ve only written one novel up to now. I planned out part of the story, wrote it down, planned the next part. Any ideas that didn’t fit the story at the time, I jotted down for inspiration at a later point.

Pachy's avatar

I’m always amazed by writers who say their stories’ plots and characters reveal themselves as they’re being written. Mine do that to an extent, but I have to have to know the beginning, end and general structure before I can write a word.

One of the marvelous thing about writing is that there’s no right way or one way to do, as I learned from a wonderful series of books called Writers at Work, which comprise interviews by numerous authors about their writing process.

DWW25921's avatar

It’s all in the outline. I start with keywords for paragraphs that lead me where I want to go. I than make points under them and write along those lines. It’s incredibly anal but I always got A’s in research papers back in college.

talljasperman's avatar

I buy some good orange juice and 2 liters of name brand cola…and hot pockets lots of hot pockets…. or trail mix and beef jerky.

downtide's avatar

I write a loose outline of scenes that I want to include, fitted into a timeline to make sure characters are all in the right place at the right time. I use Evernote for note-keeping, rather than programs specifically designed for writers. I find that if I use one of the speciallist things I spend too much time making notes and not enough time actually writing.

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