story structure

by basra

Question: How much planning is required when it comes to structuring a book?

Answer: It all depends on the writer.

Some writers (pantsers) can sit down with just a simple idea in their heads and start writing.

Others (plotters) create a very lengthy outline and extensive notes before they start.

Most writers are somewhere in between.

The trouble with being a pure pantser and not planning is that by the time you get to Chapter 10, you may find that choices you made in Chapter 1 make it impossible for the story to continue the way you want it to. Inconsistencies start cropping up because you made decisions without thinking them through. Or you may find you've gone down a path that takes you away from the story you wanted to write and you can't see how to get back on track.

Writer's block is often the result of painting yourself into such a corner.

On the other hand, there are many aspiring writers who spend so much time planning their setting, their stories, and extensive backstories, that they never get their book written. (High fantasy writers are notorious for this.)

You have to find the balance that works for you. And you always have the option of doing some planning, then some writing, then going back and planning some more, etc.

The important thing is to figure out what will keep you moving forward at a good pace. You know you're either doing too much planning or not enough planning if your output slows to a crawl. (Of course, your output also depends on how many hours a week you can devote to your writing.)

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero