Plotting didn’t seem to matter with The Grayson Trilogy as the story and all its twists and turns were vivid in my mind. I couldn’t get the words down quickly enough and always ran out of time before I ran out of story to tell.
Maybe that’s the way with first books, or series. I don’t know.
Now it’s a very different tale and as I’ve started on my NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) project this week, which means attempting to write 50K words during November, I’m trying to put together a proper outline.
Of course, I fully intended on doing this plotting phase during October so I’d be ready to go but with one thing and another I ran out of time. Now, I’m trying to plot alongside getting a couple of hours (roughly 2K words) written a day too. Which is hardly ideal! But I don’t want to drop behind on the word count.
The problem is I start with blank pages in my notebook, note some chapter numbers at the top of the first few and start the process of mapping the story out but early on I begin scribbling down bits of dialogue, character characteristics, then add in something that seems like a great idea, move chapters around and it swiftly becomes a mess. Which I don’t like.
I suppose I should attempt it, then tear those pages out and reorder things, then proceed onto a second phase, then continue to redo the outline over and over until it’s flowing how I want it too. But that seems so time-consuming when that’s the thing I have least of.
The problem is that I also start to get twitchy… restless, if you will, and before I know what’s what I’ve dived straight in to some random chapter and just started typing. Usually because I want to get that juicy part of the story down before I forget it.
Obviously I realise I could just write it down in my outline instead but that never seems the same. Particularly if my mind has concocted a nice line or two. I find these days if I dare to look away from anything I’m meant to remember it’s gone from my mind forever.
When I finish this post I’m going back to my outline notebook to persevere with it because I know it really does help if I know what’s coming next when I’m trying to get that first draft down. It’s good for character development too as I have worked out why my main character does what she does right from the start, rather than discovering it as I work my way through the book. And then having to go back to make sure she’s behaving consistently from the start.
Of course, whatever I plan is all subject to change, should another, better, idea reveal itself along the way. In which case perhaps the outlining will have been a waste of time after all… sigh…
Over to you. If you’re a writer do you outline or just go for it? And how do you outline – post it’s on the wall – spreadsheets – scribbles in a notebook? I’d love to know.
I thought the whole idea of NaNo was it could be raw. To write our socks off and get to grips with all the niceties later?
Oh, it can be whatever you want it to be. But, because I don’t have the time to simply write a load of stuff purely for the sake of it, and end up ditching much of it later on, I gain a lot more by trying to so some plotting so that I, hopefully, end up with some sort of cohesive story at the end of it.
I always like to have an outline before I start writing and convince myself that I can then merrily work my way though the story, writing each chapter in order until – tah-dah! – book finished. But, of course, it never happens like that. Either I start plotting, get enthused by the story and set off writing without a completed plan… only to stall somewhere along the time because I’m not sure where to go next. Or, I do finish an outline but later come up with a twist I like as I’m writing and have to plot out the whole thing all over again. I’d love to be able to outline a great plot from the start and systematically work my way though to the end, shout “it’s done!” and move on to editing. But I’m beginning to realise that’s impossible for me. No matter how long I leave a plot outline to “stew” before starting to write (in the hope that any new ideas will come to me before I set off), it seems the writing process itself is the stimulus to activate the creative part of my brain, and there’s no way round it.
Good luck with the NaNoWriNo, Georgia! I’m sure whatever you achieve will be valuable in one way or the other.
That sounds very much like me, Wendy, so I’m glad it’s not just me! I think it’s caused by the fight between my analytical brain and creative brain. I want to write in as organised a way as I work, but once I start the creative side is unleashed and much like a kitten with a ball of wool, it messes everything up. I do like it when a particularly juicy plot twist reveals itself in the process though, so I shouldn’t complain.
I didn’t do much plotting with book 1, but I soon realised how useful it was, so now I plot too, it saves time and tears in the long term!
I know what you mean. All that having to go back to make sure everything is in line if you don’t plot. I had that particularly with A Single Step. Which took a lot of time.
I’m sort of a Planster – a hybrid I suppose. I don’t outline in the beginning, but with the story idea almost comes the ending. Then characters get involved and I write chapters out of order depending on who wants to “talk” on any particular day. Once I have the basic “bones” of the story, I got back and outline what I have, shifting the order as needed, and looking for placing where the plot has gone off the rails.
That’s interesting, Jeanne. I often write chapters or scenes out of order but then get in a mess trying to work out if my character can possibly know what I think she knows already!
Yep…that happens. But I find the writing process so much interesting when the characters reveal themselves as I go.
Yes, and quite often I don’t really find out who a character is until I’m halfway through the first draft.
This is so difficult for me. I am (always have been) 110% pantser. I don’t outline, plot, plan… And I like it that way. That said, I don’t have much to show for it, do I? Um…
I think you have plenty! It is a bit easier to write short stuff without any plotting though, as you’re unlikely to get lost within the thousands of words, forgetting if you’ve already said what you’re typing already… etc…