Reflection: More Thoughts on Planning and Spontaneity

Yes, this has become one of my favorite topics to discuss: planning vs. spontaneity in writing.  I previously wrote about it in an earlier post, and touched on it in many reflections since.

I’ve always felt both planning and spontaneity have a place, but earlier today, I was watching some special features on my DVDs of Fringe season 2 (my favorite science fiction show of recent years), and the producers made it sound like a key twist at the end of the season, that pretty much defines most of season 3 (I won’t spoil it), was pretty much decided while they were writing the end of season 2.

I would think that’s a key plot point they’d have planned a bit in advance.  In fact, the way season 3 went, I thought they would have planned it, yet they didn’t, and it worked – Fringe is still an awesome show.

This made me think more on the topic of planning versus spontaneity.  Now I’ve always felt that a twist has to be planned for a bit in advance to work (so it doesn’t seem to come out of nowhere), but a spontaneously decided twist can work too.

It could depend on the type of twist.  A big reveal usually needs to be planned in advance to better avoid plot holes caused by said reveal.  However, sometimes, even a twist like this can be decided more spontaneously later, if everything seems to fit together just right.  Things just fitting together like that is usually how I figure out the big twists anyway, only I try to do it while I’m planning.  Is planning versus spontaneity really just a matter of time then?

Something smaller, but unexpected, can be a bit more spontaneous easier.  Of course, a big event like this can still have serious implications on the rest of the story, which should at least be considered before going ahead.

In the case of Fringe, though, I would have expected a bit more planning.  The writers have stated before that they already knew how they’d like the series to end.  But then, perhaps the ending was planned, but they were still deciding exactly which path to take to get there.  I’ve had situations like that myself.

Spontaneity versus planning in writing is still an interesting topic, and it’s clear now that there’s no clear answer.  Perhaps it all comes down to style?  I still feel you need some of both, but is it largely Rule 89 (the most extreme ends of the spectrum never work)?  This is definitely a topic that will need more thought.

So, fellow writers who happen to be reading this post – what are your thoughts on planning versus spontaneity?  Where do you feel it’s better to plan out the story a bit more, and when is it better to just spontaneously come up with ideas as you write?  I’d really like to hear some thoughts on this!  Until next week, White Rakogis, signing off!


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