Pre-Production and Writing

As a Communication major, I have a bit of a background in filmmaking. Over and over again, we were told to spend a lot of time in pre-production because that would make production and post-production easier and more seamless.

In film, pre-production refers to all the preparation: scripting, storyboarding, planning the shots, etc. Production is the actual act of shooting the film. Post-production is editing.

It’s a little different in writing, of course. Pre-production: discovery writing, plotting, world building. Production: writing. Post-production: writing and editing.

There are essentially two types of writers. George R. R. Martin (author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series) calls them “gardeners” and “architects.” The gardeners just plant ideas here and there to see what blossoms. The architects blueprint everything.

Yet, even though gardeners and architects work in two different ways, I believe pre-production is important for both.

Up until recently, I was never particularly satisfied with the books I wrote. I would plot them out and write off of that (although there were moments when my characters led me off course) but there was still something missing.

When I started listening to StoryWonk Sunday I realized what it was: I’ve been neglecting the discovery writing. Discovery writing is basically the writing equivalent of pre-production. I always kind of shied away because I’m not a fan of those long character worksheets that ask questions like: What is your character’s yearly income?

I’ve recently started to see that there are other ways to go about it. Instead of filling out a character worksheet, I free write in first person for all the main, major, and secondary characters. I still learn their life stories, likes, dislikes, family history, habits, speech patterns.

tl;dr: The pre-production stage is incredibly important for writers! Properly preparing means that production and post-production will be much easier! Whether you’re a gardener or an architect, with a little experimentation (and maybe some help from Google to see how others do it), you can figure out the pre-production methods that work best for you.

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