I was asked a question by fellow blogger Harliqueen recently about how I plan when I’m writing poetry vs how I plan for prose and immediately it sparked a train of thought. I love when a discussion with someone else is able to unlock new insights into your own methods by putting things into perspective and so decided to write this post about what I came to learn.
When I plan a piece of prose, I get fairly in depth with the details. Initially it will start with a plot synopsis of around a paragraph or so which I will use to develop characters, sub-plots and other important details. I will then usually write a series of bullet-points talking myself through all of the significant moments within the story in chronological order to help keep me on track when I actually come to write.
Poetry is a completely different scenario altogether. The furthest I will ever go with planning a poem is to quickly jot down a few words or a sentence at most describing the theme, bare concept or general message of what I want to write. Everything else – word choice, stanza structure, rhyming scheme, imagery – they are all decided as and when I write.
At first I found it odd when I realised how starkly different my methods were for each form of writing but then I stumbled upon a possible explanation: I see stories as detailed, rounded pieces that are created through the culmination of many different things. Each element needs to be carefully considered so that they will fit together and the final puzzle can be created. I see poetry instead as a snapshot into a single fleeting thought or emotion. To me it therefore has to feel a lot more organic, stripped back and raw; its content guided by how the writer is feeling in the specific moment they wrote it rather than having been constrained by a rigid structure or plan.
Do you plan in different ways depending on what form of writing you are working on or do you stick to a universal method?