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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Pen-to-Paper; Ink-to-pad; Key-to-Screen: Having a Plan (Scott 'Jinx' Jenkins)

Pen-to-Paper; Ink-to-pad; Key-to-Screen: Having a Plan

By:  Scott ‘Jinx’ Jenkins    

I don't know of many writers—really, I don't know many, at all *sad face*—that simply sit down and write without a plan.  Sure, we like our impromptu, our blogs, our outbursts, of sorts.  But when it comes to our legacy, to the world we dreamt of scribing out for *insert personally applicable amount of time here*, we tend to plan.

Planning is good.  And honestly, as writers, we do it more often than not.  When I am driving, parenting, crewing jets, yelling at airmen, drinking, reading, or...to be honest; when I am doing anything I am thinking/planning for my book(s).  It’s just in our nature.  But, what is beneficial planning?  When is planning a hindrance?  Well, lucky you; I planned some time for another blog; so let’s dive in!

What is beneficial planning?

Great fucking question!  I am glad you asked!  Answer this simple question: how long is/did it take you to finish your first long piece of writing?  Its okay, I’ll wait…

Correct answer is: a long ass time! So, the most beneficial planning is the initial planning.  If you are taking your audience on a space adventure where Jesus Christ travels through a black hole, meets Romeo and Juliet, and teaches them about respecting thy father, then you gotta plan that shit! Brainstorm a bit, but put a solid plan on paper/screen.  Commit to a beginning, middle, and end—Yeah, I know it can still change but it is harder to change when the original is in front of you.  Next, commit to scenes/chapters.  Then save that document, add/delete as time progresses, but hold that document as gospel.

There are two main reasons this practice is crucial.  And for free-99, I am going to share them with you; what can I say, I’m just that kind of guy.  First, when you take that LONG sabbatical from writing because life happened, and you come back to page 41, without a single idea what the fictional fuck is happening…you will have your document.  Boom, that in itself should be good enough reason, and I didn’t even charge for it!  Second, not to sound cliché, but it gives you a road map to your own creativity.  The you that came up with the book idea is not the you a year later writing the last chapter.  And most of us aren't Stephen King (if one of you IS Stephen King, how dare you read my blog and not give me a plug…help out the little guys!), so our writing skill and voice are developing.  Make sure you FINISH your work but staying true, as best as possible, to the road map ‘original’ you made.  Otherwise, you may be writing that damn book forever, lost in the blackhole with Jesus; Romeo and Juliet just dying over-and-over, waiting for divine intervention.

When is planning a hindrance?

This one is a tad easier: if you take the above information as prescriptive, end all, biblical practice, then I hope you want ants—cause that’s how you get ants.  Seriously, everything is fluid.  Just cause you have a plan, doesn't mean you should stifle spontaneous creativity.  Simply bounce major changes against the total product and document things that make-the-cut.  Maybe, by the time Jesus reaches Romeo and Juliet, you realize that your audience doesn't give a fuck about a Shakespeare; so you want to strike the star-crossed lovers for a little Bella, Edward action.  But you spend months in turmoil—drinking too many bottles of single malt scotch without inviting me—all because some dick on the interwebs told you: STICK TO YOUR PLAN!  I am going to make it easy for you, make a plan, always air on the side of our plan, make the changes work for addition into your work of art, and remember this: change roads, not destinations.

Last thing *like a piece of candy you didn’t know you were gonna get*

I had a professor tell me, while working on my thesis (fancy name for book), that he could tell when I was deviating from my plan.  He wasn't harping, because editing was yet to come, but wanted to enlighten me.  Since most of us write larger pieces of work in the past tense, this is something I have realized to be a norm: you sit down at your computer and type away the stuff listed in your head and plan.  He did this.  She did that.  Jesus smacked both in the back of the head…

Then something crazy happens.  You have a wild idea in the thralls of finger fucking the keyboard.  Jesus should be a fucking robot; you think, leading to this:  Romeo is crying on the ground as Jesus removes his robotic brain chip.  He forcibly rams it into Romeo’s skull; blood mist fills the air, kissing Juliet’s lips upon decent—wine.

Did you catch it?  I didn’t at first.  When we have nuggets of goodness strike our creative charge, we tend to key it up as present tense; because we just thought of it.  Now, when I edit for other’s I chuckle at tense changes like that.  Mostly it is just a fun tidbit; the only true benefit is to be self-aware, because if you self-edit, you need to be on the lookout for those spots.

Till next time my literary homies and homettes…


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