Tag Archives: plotting

To plan or not to plan, that is the Question

So, I solved the mystery of continuous writingTPOBBlogIcon – just write your episodes (experienced writers call those episodes ‘scenes’ or ‘peaks’) and string them together at some point by all means later if you like.  With what? As I said in an earlier post – transitions – those are hard, because nothing happens in them. But, I think I figured out that anything where the characters are not interacting with other characters or the environment is not trying to interact with the character(s) [like ginormous gargoyles trying to eat them or suck their brains out through their navels] – are the transition points (those experienced pen wielders call that ‘valleys’, I think…. When the characters do nothing in particular or do something best done in solitude. [like the MC pulls lint out of his/her navel and contemplates the futility of bathing, because no matter what he/she does, there will always be navel-lint…] – my characters constantly, eat, bathe, or write in their journals – unless they sleep or meditate…and it is perfectly ok to skip a whole day or week over, if nothing ‘exiting happens’ – “We walked for four days before we finally found an inn where we could get shelter from the rain…” the prospective reader will ‘get the picture’ of an uneventful, wet, dreary and boring four days.

Why did I just write all that? Because it’s connected to something I discovered yesterday.

I have reached a point in my novel where two ‘side-stories’ are going to merge, and I couldn’t for the life of me get the geographical descriptions right in my head. Because I had written one story with one ‘geographical out-line’ and the other with a slightly different ‘geographical out-line’, and I either had to write in a second Body of Water or remove the Crucial Place of Horror all together… I was driving myself and my loving wife to distraction (destruction?) because I couldn’t make sense of my own story!

Finally she barked at me: That’s why people PLAN their books/stories/novels BEFORE they sit down to write. Uhu…ooops…never done THAT (why would I, I never wrote more than 3-5 pages at a time, and never really thought of ‘stringing them together’).

Ok. Let’s try it, I thought, and went over what I have written so far, inserting short ‘commentaries’ whenever a new scene ‘began’, sort of summarizing the scene – and I especially focused on the chain of episodes that I KNEW would lead to the conclusion of the characters’ interaction with that ‘geographical out-line’, because it was when I took on writing those scenes that I was snagged by my inconsistencies – and found that by writing the small summaries, I lost interest in writing the scene, because I had already told myself the story through the summary, so why bother ‘expanding’ the summary?

Obviously my writing comes from me telling myself stories as I write…and why would I write the same story twice? Dean R Koontz don’t, so I suppose I don’t have to either. I just have to get it right the first time:

“But the writer who rewrites the same story again and again until he has it down pat is usually not so much a careful artist as he is a sloppy one. If he had trained himself to write as clean and sound a first draft as he could, he would not have needed to go over all that material again and again. When I sit down to begin a new novel, I type directly onto heavy bond paper, with carbon paper and second sheet attached. If a paragraph is not going well, I rip that set of papers out of the typewriter and begin the page again, but I never go on until that page is finalized and cleanly typed in finished copy. I waste a lot of paper. But I save a lot of time. The danger of planning to do several drafts lies in the subconscious or unconscious attitude that, If I don’t get it right this time, it’s okay; I can work it out in a later draft. This encourages carelessness in your original word choices, phrasing, and plotting. The more things you write with this approach in mind, the sloppier you become until, finally, your first draft is so poorly done that no number of re-workings will make it click.[…]If you must rework the story several times, you will lose that sense of excitement and, more often than not, create a finished piece that reflects your own ultimate boredom. (From “Writing Popular Fiction” by Dean R. Koontz)

Wise as always my wife said: Just write the story!

Which means that even if I don’t know what is going to happen within the next 3-5 pages, I don’t have to know. Of course I need to make sure that geographical details are the same for all characters, if they move in the same area, but I DO NOT need to have the entire story written out in short summaries. Really. I can just write to tell myself a story.

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