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Plot or Free Flow?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing plotting short stories novels

Something Iíve been giving some thought to recently is whether you should plot out your writing Ė whether it be short stories or novels Ė or whether you should just start and see where you end up.

When I first started writing, I had plenty of ideas. I would start and then get stuck and eventually abort. I still have files and files of half (or quarter) written stories. To help myself with this I set myself the challenge to write a piece of flash fiction every day for a year. I canít say that I wrote 365 finished pieces, but I certainly got much better at being able to reach an end. Iíve heard some people say that even if you donít know how the story is going to go, you should at least have an ending in mind; something youíre working towards.

For flash fiction itís probably not even possible to plot out your story. But how about for longer pieces? Barbara Dynes in Masterclasses in Creative Writing says ď[t]he amount of obstacles and complications you add to your initial idea depends on the length and tone of your story.Ē (p.11) This is her suggestion for a 2,000 word story: Problem, Obstacle 1, Obstacle 2, Obstacle 3, Crisis, Climax (pg.11). Iíve tried plotting out stories like this, but donít find they flow particularly well when I write them. This may just be because 2,000 words is not a good length for me, or maybe itís because plotting doesnít work for me.

Iíve recently finished the first draft of my first novel. I didnít plot anything. I knew the beginning and I had a rough idea of the ending and I wrote a couple of pages per day until it was finished. It will take a lot of editing, but is that any different to a plotterís first draft? The 90-day novel, written by Alan Watt, is based around there being a story structure for the novel, which ďcan be applied to any story, from the most Ďtraditionally structuredí to the most esoteric piece of writingĒ (pg. 285).

I know every writer needs to find his or her own way, but my question is: have you changed the way you write in the time that youíve been writing? How? And why?

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