I posted a while back on the importance of planning for writers. Today – more about why to do it.
Writers plan their material to control it – to keep it within length, to avoid being caught up in dead-ends, to make sure the structure is correct.
Yes, it’s fun to free-flow the ideas. And there can be advantages to having that freshness of material. The hard reality from the professional perspective is that writing that way is actually writing-for-personal-entertainment. A pastime. Writing as production – as in, coming up with the goods for a publisher, to time, is a different ball game. But it’s something writers have to learn how to do if they’re to enter the field.
Self-publishing doesn’t change that calculation – it makes it harder, because the onus is then thrown on the writer to also be the publisher. And one of the advantages of separating the two is that publishers give a different view to a book.
So why must we plan? Three reasons – all, really, variations on the same theme: control. Control of content. Control of scale. Control of time.
1. Planning to broadest scale gives the writing its initial over-arching structure – the logline or thesis is a good starting point.
2. Writing has to be efficient – to have a dynamic to draw the reader forward. Writers working to deadline can’t afford dead ends, or to mis-structure the piece. Planning the structural detail is essential.
3. That rule of purpose applies down to sentence and word level. Every chapter, every sequence, every sentence – all must have a purpose, which is to push the story or content along. If it doesn’t, it shouldn’t be there. Ask why – why does character X do such-and-such. Is it to reveal more of their character? If you’re writing non-fiction, how does the sentence or paragraph contribute to the argument?
There’s a lot more to planning than this, of course. More soon.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
And now, some shameless self promotion: my history of New Zealand, now available as e-book.
Also available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/book/bateman-illustrated-history/id835233637?mt=11
Buy the print edition here: http://www.batemanpublishing.co.nz/ProductDetail?CategoryId=96&ProductId=1410