A few posts back I talked about how I had a plan for my new work-in-progress.
I also mentioned how that plan didn’t survive first contact with the characters.
I’m now over 35K words into the project and fast approaching the middle of the book and it occurred to me this week that, although my attempts at having a thorough outline inevitably fail, I do follow some kind of plan when writing a novel.
It’s just really vague.
The plan I follow is a watered down version of one I read way back when I started writing.
That plan involved getting a piece of paper and writing the numbers 1 to 20 on it. Next to 1, you write your opening scene. By 20 you write your climax and then you fill in the blanks as best as you can.
At steps 5, 10 & 15 you have major turning points in the plot.
Although my plan for the WIP has vanished by the wayside, this week as I’ve been writing, I’ve always been acutely aware that I’m working my way towards the mid-point.
It’s a marker up ahead, a way-station on the journey through the first draft, and it actively influences the progression of the story.
As I’ve been writing this week, I realised that my plan basically involves the four big turning points in the plot, and nothing more.
Before I start a draft, I do know what needs to happen at each one, even though the how of it happening won’t be decided until I come to writing it.
As I work towards each major plot point, I consider a) the consequences of the one before and b) what needs to happen to trigger the next one.
Then it’s just a case of knitting the relevant scenes together to get there (I say “just”, but it’s never that easy…).
For me, this method is secure enough to know I’ve got a complete story, but vague and flexible enough to allow me to explore the characters and the plot with freedom.
Have a great week!