Right now, I’m reading the MWA’s Writing Mysteries Handbook (pub 1992 edited by Sue Grafton). Here is a snippet from Gregory McDonald’s introduction:
The five W’s are taught to anyone wishing to write. Regarding any story, you are taught you must report the Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
Before you ever think seriously of writing creatively, for your own sake, you must establish, as much as humanly possible, the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of yourself.
You are the only source of your originality, and the only person who can develop the skill to make that originality of interest to others.
The creative process starts with your establishing in your own mind what new element uniquely, personally you, you are going to bring to the short story, the novel, particularly your short story, your novel. Creative work is much too difficult to launch into blindly, without having a truly novel idea, and without knowing as precisely and as consciously as possible what that idea is.
I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I have plenty of novel and story fragments lying about, victims of failed planning (or no planning).
How often have you gotten 50 pages into your first draft and then thought, “What the heck am I writing here? What do I have to say?” Think about the five W’s as they apply to you and your idea before you get started and you just might make it past that block.