Discussion Time: Plotting and Planning a WIP

There’s no right or wrong way to write a book (OK maybe that’s not true because I think what I’m doing now, which is not writing at all, is the wrong way to write a book) but everyone has a different way of going about it. There are people who plan every chapter and character, and people who start writing with nothing more than an idea and a blank Word document.

Those are the two extremes, you may be a mix of the two (which is where I think I am). This post isn’t to discuss the right and wrong ways to plan a WIP (like I said I don’t think there is a wrong way), but in the run up to NaNoWriMo I want to talk more about writing and WIPs to help me get my head back in the game.

Plotting and Planning a WIP

Plotting and Planning a WIP

One of the problems is that I’ll start planning – start developing my characters, their personalities and all their positive and negative traits, and start outlining my plot chapter by chapter – but the second I start writing that first chapter hundreds of other ideas fly into my head. I have new roles for my characters to play to up the emotional stakes, new ways to end chapters on more intense cliffhangers, I’ll even have new characters all together, and before I know it I’ve only written 5K towards my original outline before realising I need to scrap it all together.

The Rising Author Tag (1)

I don’t do well with the half plans I’ve been working off so far. I’ll end up with only 15 or 20K at most written because my idea keeps changing, and while sometimes you need to change where your WIP is going when you’ve been working on the same base idea for ten months and the most you’ve written is 20K that’s when you know you have a problem.

So what am I doing now; I’ve tried a going-where-the-flow-takes-me method of writing, which does work well but only for the first five or ten chapters when I lose steam and have no clue where to go next, and I’ve tried half planning half going-where-the-flow-takes-me, which again does work well but only until I come up with my next ‘great idea’. So going forwards I’ve decided to completely cut my going-where-the-flow-takes-me method out of the equation.

Milestones Write Tag (2)

This time around I’m creating a step-by-step plan for my plot, characters and the world they live in (you may recognise that as the same three things I focus my book reviews around too). I’m starting off with the basics – what major plot points need to occur to move my story from A to B, what characters do I need to build my story around – and from there I build upwards and outwards. I want to go into more and more detail until at the end I know what needs to happen by the middle of chapter eighteen and what my main characters’ childhood fear was.

Pinterest is great for aesthetic images – it really helps me to see a rough picture through an aesthetic of what I want my world building to show using words – but it’s also great for writing resources. Also Kat at Life and Other Disasters has created a variety of Write tags which always give me more insight into my characters than a lot of the character interview questions do.

The Rising Author Tag (4)

I think at the end of the day, similarly to me being a mood reader, I’m a mood writer. I need to go where my inspiration takes me if not I’ll get bored and I’ll likely stop writing all together, but going forwards going where my inspiration takes me needs to mean, ‘I’d rather write chapter twelve than continue to work on chapter seven’, instead of meaning ‘instead of A happening like I planned I want C and D to happen instead’.

At the moment my plan to avoid that is to keep a notebook on hand when I’m working on my WIP. Any new ideas that pop up will be written in that notebook to stop them taking up space in my mind and at the end I’ll come back to them and see if I can make them a new story, rather than editing my current WIP for the hundredth time in ten months.

Now Onto the Discussion Part of This Post:

Are you working on anything at the moment?

How do you plan your new WIP? Is there a tried and true method you always use, or do you let the story take you wherever it wants to go?

Have you ever changed the WIP you’re working when you’ve had a different idea pop up in your head, or once you’ve planned it once do you stick to that plan?

How do you stop new ideas taking up space in your head and detailing your current WIP?

Let me know in the comments below.

33 thoughts on “Discussion Time: Plotting and Planning a WIP

  1. I get lots of ideas for changes while I’m writing too, even though I’m a massive planner when it comes to writing, and think that the method of writing it down in a notebook really works- that way you can go back to it later and adjust the story. Great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, and I have tons of notebooks so maybe I can finally start filling them with story ideas rather than leaving them to gather dust on my shelves. Plus I imagine it’ll be easier to adjust my WIP once I’ve finished the first draft than as I’m writing which is what I’m doing now. 😀
      Thanks so much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Beth!!!
    This is a great post! It’s kind of what I’m struggling with right now in my writing as well. I am also in between a planner and a pantser. It is hard for me to plan out 100% of what is going to happen and stick to it. However when I pants the entire novel, I also run into the problem of running out of steam and not knowing where to go next.
    Right now what works for me is to do a bit of both. In my previous novel I planned out the main plot points, which I mostly followed throughout the novel. I wrote out a list of scenes which I didn’t end up following, but that was all right since I still stuck to the overall plan. I didn’t plan the scenes out thoroughly, which worked out since I enjoyed being able to improvise as I write a scene. About 75% through the novel I came up with a brilliant idea which I followed through with. Even though it was different from my initial plan, I liked it better since it built up the suspense and everything was able to tie up by the end. What I learned here is that no matter how much I try to plan my novel, I’ll always be winging it a little bit 🙂
    Anyway, I think it is great that you’re working on a new plan for your novel, and I hope that this time it will work out well! From my experience, I think impromptu ideas are not necessarily a bad thing, but it depends on whether or not it will fit with the rest of the story 🙂 Your aesthetics are gorgeous! I am definitely looking forward to hearing more about your novel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I’ve tried in the past going with the flow and pantsing my writing process, but I’ve always hit a road block before too long and it’s kind of made me think I need to switch things up a little. It’s going to be hard to force myself to stick to a plan but I’m going to give it my best shot, if not I’ll never get anything written at all.
      It sounds like you’ve managed to come up with a process that works for you, I can never get as far as 75% before coming up with new ideas (I’m lucky if I made it to 5 or 10%). I mean it’s great when the ideas make your writing better but it gets to a point (at least it has for me) where I feel like I’m going around in circles never getting any further.
      Thanks so so much. I’ll be talking a lot more about NaNo and writing as this month and November continues, so you’ll be kept up to date on how everything is going for sure 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It makes sense to create a detailed plan and stick to it if you feel it will help you get through the first draft 🙂 For me it was a good experience to try both extremes of winging things and planning things out, so maybe this will be helpful for you to discover what works best for you.
        Definitely looking forward to Nanowrimo and to hearing more about your WIP 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this topic, especially since it’s relatable with Nanowrimo rolling around 😊

    I used to adamantly believe that I was a planner, and I do think that I still have a tendency to want to plan out everything…. but I realize that that has been a hindrance to my writing these past few years. Sometimes I’ll want to write, but because I don’t know how the story/scene/poem ends I’ll just… not write it. I feel too intimidated to even start. However, I’m challenging myself this Nanowrimo to finally loosen up and go with the flow. I have a basic idea and probably do some outlining, but other than that, I’m totally going write my WIP pantser-style!

    Gah that thought terrifies me, but at the same time I’m so excited to try something new! Best of luck with planning your WIP! Will you be sharing more of your Nanowrimo journey these next two months? 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Zoie, and yeah to psyche myself up for NaNo I like to post writing related things on my blog. Helps get me in the mindset to plan and write you know?
      Oh that’s kind of the other end of the spectrum then, from where I am. I’m trying something different this time around and actually planning what I want to write but in a way I kind of get what you mean because when I get stuck I become intimidated by my writing and never know where to go. It’s not so much writers block as feeling lost inside my WIP.
      Ohh that’s great you’re taking part in NaNo this year though, good luck with writing 50K words and good luck with your new method for writing. I hope it goes well for you, and yeah I imagine it will be exciting seeing if this works better for you.
      Thanks, and yeah I’ll definitely be sharing more over the course of NaNo. I can’t wait. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s such a good way to put it — it’s not really a writer’s block, I agree, but it’s just that it’s sometimes overwhelming to deal with such a big story, I don’t even know how to start writing. I have so many ideas but it’s so hard to pick one and get going with writing, which is why I’m challenging myself to loosen up this nanowrimo 😋

        Good luck with planning for nano this month! 💪

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sometimes I just force myself to write something, once I have a few words down on the paper it kind of makes it easier to organise my thoughts into something coherent, and then I get in the zone and can;t stop writing.
        Thanks, and good luck for NaNo in general Zoie. 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great discussion post!! My own writing has come to a screeching halt recently 😬 because I seem to be stuck in brainstorming mode. I keep coming up with great character and setting ideas, but not so much any solid plots. I’ve always been a mood writer, so I really hope I get in the mood soon! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Shannon. 🙂 I get that feeling, I’m not really a planner so trying to make myself actually sit down and plan something is a struggle. Personally I’m just telling myself I’m saving all my creativity for November and the start of NaNo. 😀
      I hope you get back in the mood to write soon as well, are you taking part in NaNo this year?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha probably not?? I don’t really know much about it, and I don’t know that I’ll be organised enough in time in order to really take full advantage of it. I’ll certainly try! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Best of luck for your writing Beth! It is so complicated at times to keep your mind focused on something when it just wanders everywhere all at once, I get that. What really helps me is to try and write a full outline of everything happening – that way, if I ever get off track, I’ll check back with my outline and try to redirect the story into the right tracks ahah. I know outlining doesn’t work well for everyone though. You can do this!!! Best of luck, Beth ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie. 🙂 ❤ I feel like NaNo is going to be a new start for me (and this WIP), I just need to actually get around to planning (as a pantser that is the thing I'm struggling with at the moment).
      I'll definitely try that. I have a plot line in my head, I just have to get around to actually writing it down (then the challenge will be actually sticking to it when I start writing).
      Thanks again, I'll be keeping everyone updated as NaNo approaches and continues so you'll know how I'm doing through November. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my gosh, this post is SO DANG RELATABLE. I have always wanted to write a book, but I lose steam so fast when things don’t come out perfect the first time (I’m a self-diagnosed Perfectionist and it’s a problem). I feel the need to PLOT PLOT PLOT PLOT PLAN and then as I do that, I think of another idea which gets me to start plotting and planning again. It’s an endless cycle that leaves me with about 0 words actually written. Sigh. If you have any bloggers that you love that offer good writing resources, or other things that are helpful for you, please let me know since we seem to struggle with the same sort of writing issues. Anyways, thank you for such a WONDERFUL post. I loved reading it and I loved the aesthetics you made/shared 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, yeah I can be the same. It’s just so hard to make things appear on the page the way they are in my head. I guess it’s easy to get disillusioned when you hit that first roadblock (at least that’s what I’ve found a few times before, and it’s probably why I haven’t made it past my first draft in a year!) You probably follow these two but two bloggers who have really inspired me when it comes to writing are Kat and Life and Other Disasters and May at Forever and Everly. I need to find more especially with NaNo first approaching, so if you know any can you let me know?
      That’s all right, and thanks so much. I’m thinking talking about my WIP and posting and creating aesthetics for it will help (aesthetics are part of the research process right?!) 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. NaNoWriMo is so much fun! I love how it pushes me to do the work. I’ve finished a book last year, and am working on something else now with a friend. She’s a planner and I’m a pantster, so we work well together — haha. I’ve learned to plan very little and just write what’s in my head. I’ll write notes to myself if I’m not next to a computer, but that’s the extent of my planning and forethought. Writing with someone else poses its own challenges, because we have to plan the characters beforehand. We both need to know what they look like, and like a base for their personalities. It’s been really fun so far!

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here. I write a fair bit throughout the year but I write more than I do throughout the rest of the year put together in November. Ohh, are you finding it challenging work together one of you being a planner and the other a pantser. I’m trying to be a planner but it’s harder than I thought because its not how I normally work. I keep a notebook by my side at all times, just so I can write whatever pops into my head down (I’ve had so many amazing ideas I’ve then forgotten because I didn’t have a notebook on hand). Glad to hear it’s been fun so far, hopefully at the end you’ll have an incredible story. 🙂


  8. I normally try to map out my plot and ideas on a wall with sticky notes before I start writing, that way it’s easy to move events around, rip out plot points, and add more. My writing tends to change a lot along the way too though! Even when I have a bigger project going on, I often write little page-long short stories when I have great ideas, but I normally go back to my WIP afterwards.
    Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh, that’s a really good idea. I may have to try that because I feel like based on the way I work (how my ideas keep changing and moving around) that may be good for me without destroying one of my notebooks constantly ripping out pages.
      I want to try short stories too, maybe it will help clear out some of the ideas I constantly have floating around in my head. 🙂
      Thanks so much, are you taking part in NaNo this year?


  9. Good luck with NaNoWriMo! 😀 ❤️I don’t do much writing anymore, sometimes I’ll get the urge to write something down, but by the time I find the time to do it, the feeling is gone. I have notebook upon notebook filled with stories I wrote as a teenager (although a lot are fan fiction, aha!) and sometimes I miss it, but I don’t know how well of a writer I am 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Meghan. 🙂 ❤ Oh I used to be like that a few years ago, but actually blogging helped me get back into writing and now I have too many ideas I can never find the time to write them all down. I don't know how good my writing is, but for me it's just fun writing. Maybe one day you'll be able to get back into it again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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