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.