To Plan Or Not To Plan

It always comes down to this, doesn’t it?

Writers, do you plan before you start typing away?  Are you the type that makes charts of characters, themes, plot twists?  Do you begin a story with a conclusion in mind?  Ken Follett, author of Pillars of the Earth does exactly this.  It’s normal for his outlining process to consume six months to a year before he even begins writing the prose:

It’s pretty detailed—it’s typically 50 typed pages. What takes me the time is that I change it a lot. I start out with a concept, and then I see what’s wrong with it. And I see how to make it better. One thing I quite often do is I go through it backwards and I write a one-line summary of each chapter, but starting with the last chapter. And what that does is it shows me where the final scenes are not fulfilling the promises raised by the early scenes—which, for me, is terribly important. Whatever happens in the last few chapters must be something either feared or longed for by the characters in the early chapters. And a little trick for me for focusing on that question, is to go through it backwards.

Does that sound like you?

Or are you more like me?  Do you fiddle around with an idea for while and then jump headfirst into a story?

With less than two weeks before June 1st – the very date I plan on beginning my summer writing – I’m stressing over the planning…or rather the lack of planning.

So if you’re the planning type, can you spare all tips?  Is all the planning worth the effort?