How do you start Planning a Story?

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Answered by: Dimitri, An Expert in the Creative Writing Category
Planning a story can be difficult. I know, I've tried it before and it's a pain.

But in my struggles, I've discovered a few things, and I'd like to share them with you today.

First, always remember that planning a story is the easiest way to get sick of your story. Hold on, I can hear you say. That doesn't make any sense. Why would I want to get sick of my story? Well, you wouldn't. And that's the thing: sometimes, planning a story isn't the best way to go about writing your story. Get what I mean?

Let's look at things another way. When you're planning a story, you're not writing it. You're outlining it, you're detailing the plot, you're fleshing out the characters, you're generally doing everything a writer should be doing in order to give their story the best chance at success. However, one mistake I've made in the past, and one mistake I've seen others commit countless times, is to expend all your energy in planning a story, and not enough of it actually writing the thing.

I couldn't tell you how many times I've gotten an idea for an amazing story, spent several weeks plotting it out, meticulously outlining every possible detail to ensure I don't get stuck direction-less half-way through writing it, only to get bored of it afterwards and never write a single word. It seems almost counter-intuitive to think that the more time you spend planning a story, the less likely you are to actually finish it, but that's just what I've experienced.

Now, this could just be me. I could be alone on this pedestal, preaching to no-one in particular because no-one out there relates, but I don't think I am. And I've found a way around it, too. You ready for it?

The secret to planning a story is... to not plan it.

You've got an idea. Awesome. Get it out of you. Put that pen to paper and write, and don't stop writing. You'll hit walls. You'll tear your hair out. But you'll finish it, because that's what writers do. Your first draft will be terrible - oh, so terrible. But that doesn't matter, because you've finished it, and how much more rewarding is that? When your first draft is done, put it down and step away. Step far, far away. Go read a book. Go do yoga. Just preoccupy yourself with something else for a few months. Then, when you've given it time, come back to the draft and cringe at how little of it actually makes sense. Then, take out your red pen and start correcting.

That's planning. That's when you start shaping your story into something approaching cohesiveness. You could have spent weeks planning it, but you're more likely to just get bored of your own idea as you are to actually finish your story. And that's the worst thing that could possibly happen, because once you get bored of one idea, you're far more likely to dismiss all your other ideas off-hand without giving them the attention they deserve.

But above all, ladies and gentlemen, remember: Keep writing, and never stop.

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