Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Should I Plan My Book?

This week, 25 Ways to Beat Writer's Block is free on the Kindle. To celebrate that fact, we're going to look at some of the basic questions new writers ask. Let's start off at the beginning:

Should I plan my book?

This comes down to the individual author. Some people never plan a book before writing, and others don't write a word without a plan. Personally speaking, I have to have a plan. Sometimes it'll be a mind map. Other times it'll just be a list of chapter titles. But I have to go in with a plan.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I like having a guide to keep me going even when I start to lose my focus. The plan is done in a moment of inspiration - or drawn up from ideas that came to me in a moment of inspiration - and it's enough for me to know that what I'm going to write had some basis to it beyond "I need to keep writing."

The second reason I write with a plan is because I live in a house full of distractions and interruptions. Unless you have an ideal set-up that allows for a lot of peace and quiet, you can't guarantee that no one will burst in on a writing session.

Alternatively, you can write when, and only when, you feel the inspiration to write without a guide. Plenty of authors do that, especially when working on their first ever book, because they find it much more enjoyable. I did the same thing when I wrote my first novel nine years ago, but through a combination of only average writing ability at the time, a lack of focus in the book, and a lack of interest in the existing draft, that book won't see the light of day without a complete re-write.

At the time, however, it felt right. That's what you need to think about when deciding whether or not you're going to plan your book: does it feel right to use a plan, or do you feel better writing without one? For a first-time novelist, that's the only thing that should determine whether or not you should plan your book.

That said, and this is important, if you want to write a series of books, you need a plan. A series should have a longer story than any one book can tell. If you don't plan for the earlier clues as to what the rest of the series is about from book one, you'll struggle to sell your manuscript.

Think of it like a television show. Each episode is a story in itself, but they build upon each other towards the series climax and finale, when all the little pieces come together and make sense. Trying to write a series of books without a plan, without anything in mind for how to tie the whole thing together, is like a television show consisting solely of stand-alone episodes that aren't related to each other enough to keep an audience interested. Those shows get cancelled.

Keep that in mind if you want to write a series, but otherwise the decision of whether or not to plan is down to you. (For the record, I'm so pro-planning that I wrote a whole book on the matter. If you disagree with this blog post, it's probably because I focus so much on why it's important.)

About 25 Ways to Beat Writer's Block:

Have you ever struggled with writer’s block? Have you sat at your desk, looking at your work in progress, wondering what to do with a character who just won’t budge, or a poem that just won’t take form, or an article that just won’t work for you? Have you ever joined thousands of authors in the search for a way to beat writer’s block? 

From the author of Planning Before Writing comes a solution to the problem of writer’s block: 25 ways to tackle one of the biggest issues facing writers, each with an exercise to help you to develop as an author and improve your writing skills. 

With exercises to suit every writer, and drawing on over ten years’ experience in the craft, 25 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block is a must-have reference for your collection.

Available on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HYMVZJ2
and Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HYMVZJ2

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