Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Plotting (again)

I think I have just about come to terms with the fact that I am not a plotter, after all. No matter how many different methods I try, the second I have a coherent plan, I think of something way cooler and write that instead. I have been analysing what I do do, and as I save major drafts (I email them to myself in case the computer blows up or the house is knocked down) and there's a common thread squeaking through the mishmash. 

  • Crime novel: I got to 40k and keeled over, started again with the same characters (which I knew much better), got to 60k, ran out of steam, started a third draft, which finished at 87k.
  • Novel about B&B (I know, pedestrian for me): first draft, 38k, second draft 61k, final book 77k
  • Borrowed Time: 40k, 60k, then up to present 98k. 

Each time, I realised the characters had developed, perhaps plotlines that were in the first draft could be replaced or improved upon in subsequent drafts. Maybe a whole new strand needs to be woven into the narrative, or an additional character, or maybe characters need to be pruned out to make the main character more important. What I seem to do is analyse what I have and then build on those foundations - not so much plotting as writing the story again, only better. The problem is, coming to that fateful point when I'm running out of energy at 40k feels like I've run dry of ideas, and I know I'm not. I'm trying to spend more time thinking, so I can start draft 2 with new energy. For a start, I know that the 'romance' in A Baby's Bones needs to be dragged back to a few speculative glances and misunderstandings until the end of the book.  Instead, the tension in the story can develop through the book without light relief. (Next draft, I may change this again, but it's a process).

I hugely admire people who write a passage, review, edit and perfect it the next day, then calmly carry on with the next passage in a linear fashion. But I'm definitely not one of them.


  1. I'm just like you. If I even make a vague outline, my story will go in a different direction. I usually end up revising and writing the story in a whole new way too. I wish I could be a plotter, but it's a lot of fun being a pantser too!

    1. Hi Christine, a pantser, as in flies by the seat of? I can't change the way I am, but it's nice to know I'm not alone. Maybe lots of us are just as flexible with plotting!