Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Importance of Planning

I am an author.
And therefore, a lot of the non-authors will now be giving me a crazy look and wondering what I'm talking about.
Because a lot of people think that this is what usually happens to authors:

Author: *sitting at desk* Hm... Yeah! Let's start with "once upon a time!" now... what happens next? Hmm... Maybe there's a witch! Yeah! Okay... So there was a witch. And our main character comes along! We'll call him... Max. And he's really awesome. And blond. Okay. So what should happen now?

And it goes along like that until the end of the book, where they sit back and find out that they've amazingly written a best selling rough draft and they don't have to edit it or re-read it, or plan it or anything, because we authors are magical elven fairies from a different world and we never run out of creativity because we're just that awesome.

Now as far as I'm concerned, you guys can keep on thinking that we're awesome. Because we are. Really, really awesome.
But the planning thing is kind of stupid. I mean, what best selling author doesn't have a notebook full of names, or has a place they jot down story ideas? What author doesn't sit down and write out the plot, and develop their characters? If you're going to write a good book, you're going to have to plan.

For a lot of people, this is what they think when they think of planning, and creativity, in the same sentence:

And let's face it.
That makes sense.

Planning is defined as "a specific project or definite purpose"
and Creativity is defined as
the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.

Most people don't see how those two can mix.
In fact, a lot of non-authors attempt to write a book, assuming that they know how, because they assume they don't have to plan.
Their books?
Almost always fail.

I won't say they always always fail. Because there's a slew of NaNoWriMoers who don't plan ANYTHING before they start writing, and they get to 50,000 words, as well.
But their books will generally not be as well written or well thought at as one that has been planned out at least a little beforehand.
Think about it. If you plan something out, even if it's just five minutes before you start doing it, chances are you're going to know how you want it to go. In books, this is a good thing. It means you can add subplots, and you can decide how the hero changes, and you can decide what the meaning of the book is and you can do all these amazing, wonderful things, before you even turn on the computer.

Of course, that's not to say that things don't randomly happen in your book.
In my book, Burning Hope, one of the main characters- Gamaliel- Came up really randomly. I didn't even develop him. I didn't know he even existed until Kezia was going into the cart, and BAM, there's another character who I knew was going to be a biggish part of the story.

But I wouldn't ever have gotten Gamaliel if I didn't have the cart.
And I wouldn't have gotten the cart if I didn't plan.
So, while most people see that picture up there and think that's how it is, it's much more like this:

That is to say, creativity is all well and good, but without planning, it's really not going to be anything special.

I ended up planning Burning Hope for about half a year. Reaper took longer, since it takes place in a complete fantasy world. The Three Sailormen And A Rubber Band Boat took about five minutes, thanks to a story I wrote when I was 3.
So, planning really varies in types and lengths. But it's a lot easier to sit down and say, "I'm going to write XYZ" when you have a plan for XYZ in front of you. It's a lot harder to sit down and just say "Let's write a book."

Also in my opinion, planning is useful in every day situations. I mean, I'm not suggesting that you plan out your entire day hour by hour... If you wanted that, you could go to High School. But just planning out, saying "this is what I want to accomplish" is useful. In my opinion.

Sorry for the really long/rambling post today, guys. I was really out of creativity (HA! Another stereotype busted!) and this was an idea I thought up last night when I was exhausted. ;)

Oh, and off the subject... I need more things for the pamphlet, AND if anyone wants to critique The Three Sailormen And A Rubber Band Boat, you can email me at my spam account again. ;) I'm going to try to get that one published, but it's really hard to edit your own work, as I'm sure you guys are all aware. :)

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