Thursday, February 05, 2009
By Melinda Copp
Like any endeavor in life or business, in writing, a good end result is often attributed to a good starting plan. Just to sit down and to start to write can be effective as a jumping off point to figure out what your ideas are. But once you've put your main ideas into words, take some time to plan how those ideas relate to your main point and how the relate to each other. This process will help to ensure the composition flows from one sentence, one paragraph, or one chapter to the next.
To plan your next writing project, ask yourself the following questions.
What are you REALLY trying to say?
Look at your main ideas and try to sum up each point in a sentence. Consider what purpose each scene or section serves. What is each scene or section really about? What meaning do you want the reader to gain? How does it move the story forward?
When you know the main point of each section in your composition, then it's easier to determine what needs to go where, what to keep and what to cut, and how much time to spend on each topic or scene. Everything that doesn't move toward the main idea can go.
What arrangement is most effective?
One of the first questions to ask yourself when planning a composition is: what is the best way to present your main ideas? Or in a narrative work, such as fiction or memoir, where are your main scenes and how do they best come together?
In an instructional or academic work, you might dedicate a chapter to each main topic you want to cover. For example, in an article about types of military jets, you use a section for fighter planes, a section for interceptors, and a section for bombers. Then once you've explained what fighters, interceptors, and bombers are, you can then explain how a fighter's characteristics differs from an interceptor's or how some jets have the characteristics of both bombers and fighters.
In a short narrative work, you might only have one main scene. But within that scene you can break away from the narrative to explain the action. In a longer work with several scenes, you can dedicate a chapter to each main scene. Putting them in order will depend on chronology and dramatic effect. Keep in mind that your order will likely change as you write and revise.
How much space do you need?
Another important question to consider is the length of the composition. How much page space do you have to work with? Although you want to communicate your message in as few words as possible, some ideas need more space than others. If you write too long, you risk stretching out your ideas so much they become too diluted to be relevant.
The amount of page space you need is directly related to your topic and focus. For instructional works, you need enough space to introduce the subject, outline the main points in brief, explain them with examples, and then summate your purpose again in conclusion. In a narrative work, like fiction or memoir, you need enough space to thoroughly flesh out a scene, portray the action, and communicate your ideas and themes.
Planning Your Next Project
A well-planned composition will ensure each idea is explained and each scene is developed. And writing will become easier when you work from a plan, even if you adapt and change the plan later. Using these questions to plan your next composition will help solidify your message and save you time during the revision stage.
About the Author
Melinda Copp is a writing coach, book editor, and ghostwriter who specializes in helping aspiring authors achieve their writing goals. Sign up for Melinda's free e-zine, and learn the top ten mistakes aspiring authors make and how to avoid them!
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