My Planning Process for a Chapter

All writers have their own way of going about putting words onto a piece of paper. Some like to dive right into their piece without any sort of planning, sort of like a maniacal anarchist whose only goal is chaos (I’m kidding of course…). On the opposite, less lawless side of the spectrum are the authoritarians. These people like to outline every last detail until everything reality becomes a legal documental, at least until they fill the empty spaces with a bit of exhilarating fluff. Most days I fall somewhere between Benjamin Netanyahu and Mark Zuckerburg on the scale, but some days I’ll venture into the improv-like waters of Noam Chomsky.

I typically start writing a chapter by sitting around and day dreaming about, well, everything. If I’m going to start in on a project, I’ve already decided the direction of a tale, not to mention a thorough mental picture of the majority of the main characters. A murky vision of the tale also exists, but I save the details for the planning. By the time I’ve pulled a few treasures out of my racing mind, I begin with jotting down the characters goals for a chapter: introduce said character, show that he is against something, establish his relationship with the girl next door, have him meet the main antagonist, etc. This is straight forward, but exceptionally exciting because it establishes how and when I decide to expose the mindset and personality of a character; some darker beliefs tend to come out later in the story while the more acceptable ones emerge immediately.

mikhail-pavstyuk-8436.jpg Mikhail Pavstyuk

From there, I dive straight into a detailed outline. At this point, the entire course of the chapter has flashed behind my eyelids and, in a strange sort of way, I let the automated mind take over. During this stage, I write in connections, mentions to the stories extended universe, and make note of ways to wind details in and out of future chapters. Each note begins with a major action, followed by the specifics of a conversation being had and appropriate observations about the setting. Within a half-hour or so, I’ll have an outline complete for a full chapter, and I’ll typically go on to do more outlines once I’m stuck in the technical mindset of planning.

It’s worth noting that I use Microsoft Onenote to record details, characters, etc. I love complex stories with many unique interesting characters, and in order to successfully translate my vision onto the page, I have to keep visual control over them by way of record. My character planning is something like the journal of a serial killer; I record their physical, features, routine, habits, likes, dislikes, idiosyncrasies, and pretty much anything else I can think of. But that is a story for another time.

– Logan –

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