On Planning – how much and when?

Posted: June 12, 2015 in crime fiction, writing
Tags: , , ,

I start out with an idea rather than a plan – its hard to get a complete plan together until I have started writing, but thats just me. I would say in crime fiction planning is absolutely necessary, even if its just a basic idea that you constantly add to

Usually I write about 30k words and then I get stuck as I have to put in more plot elements that slot together Thats when i start my plan.

Because I usually write one thread that will take up chapters 1, 5, 9, 13, 17 etc then I need to figure out what slots in between there – what impact the things I have written already will have on the things I have yet to write. to be honest sometimes i write parts of chapters near the end – i most definitely do not write in a linear way, at least not to start with. Sometimes an idea I have could be slotted into almost any part of the story. sometimes it needs to be earlier or later.

Another thing I have started doing (because of the way i write, is writing all the chapter headings and then putting some plot points under the heading, so that when i get there, I can either add more plot points or I can write the story. EXample

CHAPTER 6

  • KILL BOB
  • ANNA FINDS OUT WHO MOTHER IS
  • DOG GETS RUN OVER

CHAPTER 7

  • DOG IN VETS
  • SUZY GETS SECTIONED

CHAPTER 8

Here i have an actual chapter that I have already written with little bits of information that pertain to things that are happening. Usually to start this would be a past thread, so something thats happened some time before the crimes have started – so far that seems to be my format, who knows what my next book will be written – oh i do, as I already have some ideas for that jotted down somewhere. 

CHAPTER 9

  • SUZYS POV
  • BOBS BODY FOUND BY HIS SISTER

CHAPTER 9

  • POLICE INVESTIGATE BOBS MURDER
  • DETECTIVE FALLS OUT WITH BOSS

You get the idea. and then either side of that will be fully written chapters, but so i know what I have thought i need to put in those chapters I just jot them under.  I start filling in the gaps as the ideas come to me, eventually there isnt much filling left to do. I realise this isnt a conventional way of doing things, That’s in my actual manuscript. Theres a point where you need to stop planning and continue writing, because sometimes the writing is the inspiration for more of the plot to come out. Sometimes your characters lead you in a certain direction and it can be hard to stick to your plan. Think about what the overall objective is as opposed to the journey there – you don’t have to follow your plan to the letter – let your creativity guide you. You will eventually get to a point where the end is in sight and you know what to do.

Good luck!

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Comments
  1. nicktingley says:

    Totally agree. I think crime fiction is very hard to get away with if you don’t have a plan of some sort. I read an Indie crime thriller recently where the first ten chapters or so were amazingly well crafted and then it all seemed to fall apart into a series of events which felt like they were just there to pad out the story… You can spot a badly planned story a mile away and besides having a decent plan makes the edit so much easier

    • Sadly I have also read some crime fiction that falls down at the last hurdle. Naming no names but some have even been best sellers. I think what went wrong for them was their premise and their outcome couldn’t marry up and so whatever the “hook” was that pulled you into the story ended up causing the problem of how to end it. My plan becomes quite intricate when I pull out my excel spreadsheet and start filling cells for each character, but even that isn’t written in stone, if it’s not working it’s ok to change the plan.

      • nicktingley says:

        That being said though, i think there is definitely value behind just writing what comes to mind and just seeing where the story takes you… the trick in that situation is make sure you’re really on top of the edit and scrutinising every sentence. I read a book recently where the author did that but completely failed to check it when redrafting and ended up having plot holes all over the shop… like you said, it’s a last hurdle thing more often than not.

      • Yes, I tend to have a few ideas that I definitely want in but as far as anything else goes, I need to have written half the story before the plot even reveals itself to me. That’s usually when I start planning, and even then it’s a fluid process, until I’m happy with what’s left.

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