Let's say there are elements of good writing such as:

Characters, Conflict, Dialogue, Ideas, Mood, Plot, Scene, Style and World

You want to start focusing on one of them. Which do you think is the most effective order? Do you invent a universe to place the character in, or do you just invent a character and follow his journey? What is the right way to organize all these elements to serve a great story?

Do you start with setting, characters or plotting? What kind of instruments (such as generators, note-taking applications) do you use?

It's hard for me to organize my own planning process...it's like trying to tidy a very cluttered room: you don't know where to start, and where are you going...I believe I need to make a sort of a skeleton for the work and then work on it, for I am very prolific when there are a clear plan and message.

  • 1
    "I begin with writing the first sentence – and trusting to Almighty God for the second." I used to do it like this, but I get stuck in an extravagant muddle. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 18:57
  • Did you plan the entire thing out? I wrote 1000 words a day, the next day I went over those 1000 words and made them perfect. For my practice novel, I planned everything from the plot to character personalities and it has turned out to be really good and well made, with minimal plotholes. Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:15
  • Related: Is there a “best” way to start worldbuilding? on the Worldbuilding SE.
    – user
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 13:48

3 Answers 3


There is no One True Way. Every writer is different. Even the same writer may have two different approaches to two different books (or series).

JK Rowling plotted out the entire seven-book Harry Potter series in her head on a train ride before writing them, but is still working on the Robert Galbraith books (which, so far as I know, do not encompass a single arc). JRR Tolkien created his Elven languages and then made up the LOTR universe to have people to speak them, but then separately created The Hobbit as a bedtime story for his children.

Some writers must do a lot of background work (universe, character, plot) before writing. Some must jump in and see where the story goes organically. Neither is wrong; neither is right. You have to do what works for you and the story you're telling right now.

  • 2
    The problem is I am very organized and very chaotic at the same time. I wish there was some relevant, successful way, so please share your own recipe. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 5:10
  • @LadyFickle I'm a planner; I need a lot of worldbuilding, character construction, and plot outline before I write. But other people cannot write that way and must just sit down and see where the wind blows them. Try both methods and see what works for you. Just because planning works for me doesn't mean it will be right for you. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 9:29

With time and experience, I was able to solve this problem by myself.

Here's how to get organized:

  1. Setting - knowing where we are: I start with developing a fantasy world in my mind. I create maps. I gather hundreds of pictures from Pinterest and Tumblr to illustrate my world and its cultures. When the world is ready, as if you are boiling eggs:
  2. Throw in some Characters: What works best for me is creating characters on the basis of ideas sprang during roleplaying. This helps a lot, because the characters are actually developed by different story tellers, so they are more believable and unique. Then by all means:
  3. Stir trouble: create a conflict: Each character has a compelling need, good if they even struggle against each other. Every character must want something the entire time.
  4. Scenes: Try to list the possible situations the characters may encounter. For instance: "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl." Make a logical sequence of these.
  5. Spill. Everything: Just start writing from the first sentence, and trust in God for the next. Try to follow you little plan, but don't be afraid to modify as the story blossoms. Write your entire first draft.
  6. Leave aside for one week. Let the sunshine in. Do different stuff, get inspired. Return to your work with clear mind, pure hands and hot heart.
  7. Please your audience: Think of who is going to read your book - and translate your first draft into his language. For example, if you write a non-fiction book for teenagers call it: How to Score Chicks, not How To Seduce Women. Make sure you take the reader by hand and slowly and deliberately lead him to the resolution of your book.
  8. Writing Buddy: Find someone to edit the book together with. It's best to work paragraph by paragraph.
  9. Polish it: Put the finishing touches to your masterpiece. You must have a feeling of content from the accomplishment. Work on the book until it makes you happy.
  10. Write a sequel: Seriously. This sells.

Regards: LF


True, there are elements of good writing: character, conflict, dialogue, idea, mood, plot, scene, style and world; but when I'm in the mood to start a story I will generally begin with nothing at all. And then I write a word. From that word, I get a sentence. Then I build a paragraph in a style that reflects how I feel at the time of writing.

By the end of the paragraph, I will generally have the glimmering of an idea and a character (or two) will have strolled into view. Because there is a view I will have to describe the scene. The way that the characters inhabit the scene will set the mood. If the characters seem like they want to say something then there will be dialogue. Sometimes the dialogue leads to conflict, but if not then I will inject it at this point.

From this foundation, I will continue to lay down paragraphs to build up the world layer by layer. Something always occurs to me to write - word by word and line by line. Sometimes the characters tell me what they want to do and at other times the conflict tells the characters which direction to run.

It's not until I get to within a couple of paragraphs of the end that the actual ending suggests itself to me and when it does, I simply aim my writing towards that goal and complete the arc of the plot simultaneously.

Generally, at this point, I will go back and either delete or radically alter the first paragraph because usually, it will have no bearing on the rest of the story. I then scan through the rest of the tale adjusting internal consistency, grammar and syntax as I go.

Then I read it all back making any minor adjustments as I progress. Then I'll read it aloud. Then I'll get the programme to read it back to me. Then I'm done. Maybe I'll involve others at that point. Maybe not.

I write everything in WordPress usually. I have Grammarly installed and this checks my prose for basic stuff like spelling and accurate comma placement.

  • Thanks, that sounds like something I will be doing always in the future...I love your process! Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 8:10
  • @Lady - I'm so glad to have been of help. :)
    – robertcday
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 8:19
  • I would love to connect with you - my contact's in my details:) Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 8:33

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