Reasons Why I Should Have Planned

I’m not a planner. I feel stifled if I have plot to fulfill, instead I usually start with a title and the very last line. I sit with my pen poised and let the words flow. I go back and add chapters where needed, go forward to write a killer line, backwards to add a bit of foreshadowing. And the whole thing comes together. It’s a long process. Where other authors can have a book written within a year, mine take a little longer. In some cases they taksimson-petrol-110900e… ahem, years and years.

My current novel is supposed to be a mashup of a character/plot that’s been on the back-burner since the early 2000s, and the story I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo, with some other stuff that I’ve started and abandoned within a couple of weeks.

Except, I have a main character that is both named and nameless, in past and present tense, first and third person. She lives in London, a nameless city, on the coast. She’s always an artist and has just won an art award, or won it years ago. Her current exhibition is both on display and cancelled. She has a lodger but is lodging, and a sister who is in varying degrees of existence.

I’m staring at these pages, completely overwhelmed – in some cases, reading the same scene written in different ways, with different outcomes. I have two folders that have an abundance of Post-It notes to remind me where I think that scene might fit, or not fit, or needs to fit.

And I don’t know what do to… Apart from go back to basics and write a plan. Or give up altogether and bake a cake.

Tips, advice and hugs all appreciated right now πŸ™‚

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39 thoughts on “Reasons Why I Should Have Planned”

  1. I had to go back and outline my first project, after a few portions were written. I am not a planner, I honestly feel more at home in a panicked rush, or reacting, but the story needed a more solid plan. Even after planning it drifted into my usual style of getting an idea and trying to shift it towards the story. Good luck, if nothing else the planning will help you focus, and perhaps identify any gaps in the story before you write yourself in a corner.

      1. That is why I started outlining, getting tired of writing into the corners. Ha! Though I admit I still like writing the first Chapter as a pantster, then adjust and make the outline from there. That way I am already invested in the project.

  2. Boy, can I emphasize, Annalisa. I’m working on my first draft and it feels like I’m making journal entries instead of writing a novel. I’m going to have to majorly rewrite which makes me pull my hair. sigh.

  3. Do you have time to set it aside and let it marinate? Answers and work-arounds may come to you while you put it out of your mind and it’s boiling on your back burner….

    1. It’s been lurking in my subconscious for a while. I’m going to plod on to the end, possibly planning as I go (if that makes sense), and then it can be set aside for a while. Lots of walks and gym sessions will help consolidate what I have already, I hope!

  4. Key question – is the cake chocolate? Next question…pick a name, pick a place, rearrange some stuff, and keep writing….oh yeah, I’m a big help. All I’ve written lately is work crap. Don’t listen to me. Well, except about the chocolate part. (and yes, you’ll get it sorted. I have no doubt)

  5. I would like to know about this cake too! Chocolate helps sort out these things. I’m not a plotter, but there are times I have to stop the mess of a first draft and go back to just organize my thoughts. I play out stories again and again in my head. Eventually the right way shows itself.

    1. Having read many of your books, your not plotting surprises me. Yes, I run through the stories in my head too, like watching a film until I get the right order. Cake all round, it seems πŸ™‚

  6. There’s one author I read who describes her process as semi-pantser, semi-plotter. She plots a few chapters, then writes, and so on. Perhaps you would feel on stabler ground if you plotted a few chapters ahead, so you know where you’re going.

    1. That sounds like a good compromise. I’ll try to give it a go, just to get over the hump. As it stands at the moment, I’ve moved well beyond it, so there’s a large gap waiting to be filled.

  7. I can only offer hugs, because my project is in a similar state! I have so many notes, and a word document full of scenes that I might one day use. I’m working through it now and trying to put together a brief outline for each chapter to sort it all out. I’ll then put the scenes into a separate word document related to each chapter. I’ve also referred to my main characters dragon under two different names, and one character is referred to as Taylor, or ‘the priest,’ because I can’t decide if I like Taylor as a name or not! (He’s not a priest, he has healing magic, so I don’t know why I refer to him as priest anyway -_-“)
    Good luck sorting it all out, it sounds like a big project, but it will be worth it πŸ™‚

    1. It’s a relief to hear I’m not alone – everyone else always seems so organised! As a name, The Priest is pretty cool, even more so because he’s not a priest! Good luck to you, too.

  8. Hi Annalisa – bake another cake … and plot and plan – pencil some notes, or use a recorder … and get chuffing along with your next novel … take care and have a lovely weekend … cheers Hilary

    1. I’m currently tearing up the draft I’ve got – rearranging the scenes, adding notes to flesh out the gaps, and there are Post-Its EVERYWHERE! I’m having fun now, puzzle-solving πŸ™‚

  9. If there’s any way to somehow make the character exist and not exist at the exact same time then maybe it’ll work as is? Just throwing out ideas. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

  10. My stories take years and years, too, Annalisa. I’m so intrigued by yours, just with the snippets you share here. What if you don’t refer back to any of the notes or previous versions at all. Start with a blank page and the ideas that have been simmering in your head all this time. See what emerges and only go back to the notes much later, once you have a complete first draft and are ready to start editing.

    1. The ‘notes’ are actually fully fleshed-out scenes, and when I read them, they are brimming with promise – I’ve now added highlights to particular sentences and paragraphs that HAVE to be included. I’m not sure I could be brave enough to ignore it. I’ve been working on it for the past week, and I think it’s coming together a little more now πŸ™‚ If you follow me on Twitter though (and I can’t remember if you do), you’ll see I currently have too many sunsets and dreams! lol

  11. I wish I had advice, but I’m a terrible planner too. All I can say is this character and the circumstances sound fascinating, so I hope that you will be able to work things out in your head and on the page. I would love to read this story!
    Good luck and I feel sure it will come together for you.

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