In real life, I’m a big planner. I love a plan. I don’t mind if life doesn’t go according to that plan, or if said plan goes, at some point, skewwhiff. So long as there is, in place, a plan of some sort.
Writing, on the other hand, is a whole different game. It wasn’t until I started thinking about my second novel that I even thought about story plans, chapter plans, plot plans. When I write I just crack on and, well, write.
So when my agent advised me to sort out a chapter plan for my first book, to help with the restructuring of the narrative, I started researching. Lots of my writer friends have different methods, from writing a ten-thousand-word skeletal draft to writing every idea on a separate piece of paper and rearranging said paper into a plot. Writer friends, you know who you are.
The way that worked for me, or that I at least thought had the best chance of working for me, was the post-it note plan.
It looks like this:
Every chapter is summarised on a post-it, leaving me free to rearrange the hell out of the plot. And I did. I really worked at it, super hard, with loads of enthusiasm. Then I formalised the plot with the most formal of formalisers; sellotape.
Then I put the plan on a shelf and… uh… well, I forgot all about it.
Haven’t looked at it once.
And I’m well over half-way through the rewrite.
My initial response was that it had been a total waste of my time. Particularly as the current rewrite is only vaguely similar to the plan I had for it.
On reflection, however, I realised I was being a tad harsh to that poor board of sellotaped post-it notes. The act of writing the chapters down and visually rearranging them helped a great deal in my ability to rearrange them subconsciously (which is my preferred method of planning any writing that I do. I sit on an idea, meditate on an idea, generally day dream until I have it nailed.)
Hmmm. Rereading this blog post made me realise that I didn’t plan this out either. I may be waffling.
So as not to lose you all entirely I will sum up; life rarely goes to plan. Writing rarely goes to plan. But it doesn’t mean that having a plan, in some shape or form, isn’t well worth the effort of its creation.
Because those plans can always be rearranged.
4 thoughts on “When plans go awry…”
Post-its are so useful. I don’t use them as much as I ought to.
You’re right, April, they are brilliant. I used yellow post-its for present day and pink for flash backs. Really helped me even out my narrative.
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Loved the post!
I am writing my first book and was told to do this too. The only reason I listened (albeit with an internal groan and childlike pout stomp “do I *have* to?) is because the person telling me to do it published four books in one year using this method. I lose the sticky notes though, so I put mine in Trello as Cards on Chapter Boards. I travel a lot for my corporate job, this way I can take my post it notes with me.
Thanks Driftseed I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Love the tip about the cards, much easier for travelling. Good luck with your book!
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