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.