Planning help anyone?


So… I got my novel ripped to shreds today.

A whopping 6k word long review!

I think my planning methods aren’t working out too well for me.

Does anyone have any planning templates or tips and tricks they’re willing to share?


Why, what happened? By whom? By this I mean, are you sure you chose the right person?
I’m a big fan of this: though it’s more for screenplays


I have an 18k word document of reverse planning, but it’s not organized whatsoever.

I need some way of organizing my thoughts better instead of just dumping it in a document.

I’ve heard of the story clock. I don’t think it’ll work for my novel, though.

#4 some people like this


It looks interesting, but something preferably free, please. :joy:

Maybe a word document template or something on Evernote?

How do people even organize all their worldbuilding bits?


Well it would depend on what your issues are exactly with your planning. What do you feel is your issue that’s being brought up? Where are you struggling?

Is it planning because there are some plot holes in your book and that’s what the reviewer said (also nobody should ever write that many words, come on)? Or something else? What brought you to seek out that solution of having planning software?


My main issue is worldbuilding. Currently, I have worldbuilding snippets hidden all over the place in my planning document. I need something that can help me organize it better. It’s a mess.

(It’s an accumulation of reverse planning over four drafts and three years.)

The main issue is worldbuilding.


So still going to drill a bit.

What’s the issue with your world building in terms of your story? Like in the story, there isn’t enough of it? Or it’s too varied and inconsistent? Or anything like that?

Or there’s no issues with the story (but you started this by mentioning the review so I assume there’s a link here) and you’re just really disorganized and looking to organize your thoughts better?


For me, planning comes pretty much chronologically. I have had moments where I’ll think of the beginning, then the middle, and the end - but after that, everything is planned out from the beginning and then how I got to the middle and I get to the end. If that makes sense?

You could also try to do what Jenna Moreci (a YouTuber) does? These are her videos: Part 1 and part 2. In short, she pretty much “thought dumps” her ideas and then chronologically organizes them from beginning to end, and then figures out which scenes are best for so-and-so chapter.


There’s not enough worldbuilding in terms of the story presented so far, but if you look at my actual documents, I have worldbuilding but it’s all over the place and super unorganized.

There’s lots of issues with the story but a lot of them would be fixed if worldbuilding was stronger.

Are you the type of writer to make their own outline?

Ah, I see. I guess I could try that.

So far, for my drafts, I mostly just pantsed all of my content.

But pantsing and sci-fi is a very bad combination as I’ve come to learn.


As someone wearing pants and writing sci-fi all the time, I can possibly lean in to saying that it’s less difficult than you think.

I hate outlining. I know my world largely by asking and answering a series of why questions. Why would we get to the state we’re at in the scenario? How would the world had to have made these choices? Why would we make em?

And so on. If you’re looking to organize it, at the worst of times I would simply make a doc and throw names and notes in it just to help me. In terms of understanding the mechanics of my world, that’s always just all in my head, though relatively well thought out as I go into it, and continuing throughout. So if it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. Find the system that fits you right, because one you don’t like will push you out of writing often. I also reread my stories a lot as I go, it helps with inspiration, writer’s block, and remembering plot holes and points.

As for not enough, what do you mean by that? What would be enough world building? What are you missing?


I worldbuild inside out, meaning as I come across situations in my novel that need an explanation, I worldbuild around that. So, my worldbuilding is character-centric, but then this review brought up issues that could potentially contradict what I have so far, so I’m wondering how to organize all of that. Do people worldbuild on a generally topic by topic basis? Or is it mostly just answering questions as they come up? And what other methods are there to effectively worldbuild?


I do make my own outlines, but for the last few stories, they haven’t been that fleshed out. I pretty much think of everything that happens in the beginning, middle, and end (all the important things) and then wing it but by following that outline. xD

Otherwise, the last time I fully outlined, I put all my thoughts into a document and just organized it by chapters (chapter to chapter).

Yeah, it can be easy to wing it when it comes to simpler storylines like a teen fiction or romance. But certain genres (like historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction…) calls for a lot of outlines.


Do you find outlining useful?

I think I’ll have to try outlining because I’m overwhelmed by this story and it’s hard to finish it sometimes. And then when I try to finish it, I just add more and more to the pile.



So the biggest one I would suggest is just to ask a lot of questions of yourself and of your characters. It’s totally fine to build them inside out, especially if that works for you. You just have to make sure it fits in a larger context.

So one of the other things I would also recommend is to do a lot of general research into the world around you. Figure out how things work and take advantage of natural curiosity (learning boo). If you know, for example, the history of why China favours a Wok, then that might help you understand how your people will cook in a particular scenario. Or how they tackle other problems.

(They had limited firewood due to having used a lot earlier in their history for building things and so Woks have very good and even heat distribution, letting you cook more in it with less. It’s also why they would pre chop everything so that it cooks faster due to surface area rules, yaddy yaddy, once it’s chopped you don’t need utensils, one two three now you’re at the logical conclusion of chopsticks!)

That kind of historical context can help you better understand why characters would do things. Having a general concept of the rules your characters live under is more than good enough. The exact details of how things work and interact you can grab as you go along.

And, also, you only really need as much world building as needed to construct a scene. If it isn’t relevant to the scene, doesn’t really need to be in there that much. In setting the scene you might allude to some world buildy things but never need to elaborate on them.

And don’t listen to this @AliciaM21character. I have no outlines, zero outlines, and I write in hefty genre fiction, and I’ve finished…loads of…stories…so many…stories…no plot holes…all good…


That’s a bit of a different issue, and it sounds more like being overwhelmed by scope. That’s something where I say, focus on it one chapter at a time, and work with a small lense so you can feel your accomplishments build up. Scoping everything can be so daunting it turns you off of writing it, and that’s not worth it (not always for all people of course). Plus, you can always go back through and wipe it with edits to pick up the parts where you made an error.

From what you’ve described, focusing on character scenes works really well. I believe I used an example once for this involving two guys having a conversation about something, then turning to an argument about the alien blockade and handing their bill to the robot. You don’t need to figure out more than the scene needs. There’s an alien blockade. It blockades things. Great, moving on, that’s a point to keep in mind, maybe make a note of it if you feel that helps you, but otherwise the scene is more important here anyways.


But how would you know what are the right questions to ask?

I see what you mean now. So, you think research and asking a lot of questions is enough?

So, just push forward but one chapter at a time even if the earlier chapters have issues?

I always find myself torn between editing past chapters and writing future chapters.



I should go hunt down more reviewers before chucking out my fourth draft as total crap.

Starting a fifth draft when the fourth draft isn’t done yet sounds stressful.


Like I said, I reread all the time, which also acts as pseudo editing. So I keep working on the next one, and often as I read I get excited to continue it and end up writing the new chapters and moving on.


I do find it useful. Very useful. It helps me stay motivated and keeps me on track. :slight_smile: Before I started outlining, I could never finish a story and it truly never made much sense. And then when I decided to outline, my first ever story came out to be over 160,000 words and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. xD

But now, I just feel so used to planning that it doesn’t apply to me that much anymore. In fact, the only times I ever write something down is if it’s little details or to flesh things out because it’s a little complex.

It’s perfectly fine to add on, move, or delete things off your outline. Sometimes, not every idea is a good one or you may have more ideas to put into the story, and it’s A-Okay. :wink: