How We Write: Free Writing (Drafting) with a Plan…

In addition to editing/reading other author’s manuscripts this month, I’m in the throws of drafting a new book of my own. Eeek! Writing into the ether isn’t my happy place. So I free-write with a plan. Huh? you say. Yep, I plan my characters and as many plot turning points as possible before I start. How? I’m so glad you asked…


My half-day workshops focus on my theory that if you know what you intend to accomplish with a character and/or story arc BEFORE you write a scene, you’ve got a much better chance of actually producing a successful experience for the reader once you’re done. And if you know what you want the reader to feel and take away from an entire chapter or a whole section of your novel, before you begin stringing scenes together, you’ll be aware of that plan as you write and your subconscious and instincts will help you not write yourself or your characters into corners you can’t plot out of once you’re there.

Having a goal in mind doesn’t mean you’re forcing yourself to follow only one path to your story goal, any more than having a map restricts you to driving only one route to your destination. It’s a beginning, an anchor, for your thoughts to blossom from.


If you don’t formally plan, my experience is that you plan as you draft. And even if you do some of your story planning before you draft, you’re still planning as you write. When I teach drafting, I focus on exploration, the creativity inherent to the drafting part of your process. No limits. No holds barred. Then how does planning play a part? Easy.

Think of it this way. If you’ve taken time to draft characters and possible story points ahead of time, then the “planning” that you’ve done is a more advanced starting point. You already understand the basics of what you will be drafting. Then as you discover more, while you’re writing, your planning progresses. You’ve begun, further into your awareness of the nuances of what you’re doing, so you can layer deeper into subplot and character traits and growth. You move on to intermediate and advanced work, more subtle work, with your plot, because the early stuff is already out of the way.

Make sense?

say yes

And here’s the kicker. Finishing that draft–it’s just another beginning. As I’ve already discussed in earlier posts, The End is only a place to start. The finest work, the most important planning you’ll do for your story, is the rework of revision. When you have a full story to work with and characters who’ve come alive to you and story elements that you can see in so much more detail than when you first began.

Plan first. Then never stop. Not while you’re drafting. Not while you revise. Plan and tweak and craft and rework and then work some more, until your story becomes a living, breathing thing with a mind of it’s own. That’s how we write!

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One Response to “How We Write: Free Writing (Drafting) with a Plan…”

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