I managed to get the first chapter of my book down onto virtual paper yesterday which is a huge step forward after six months of plotting/procrastinating. So far I’m happy with it but I know that will have changed by the end of the week but I will resist the urge to revise it until the first draft is complete.
Anyway, I thought I might show you what I produced whilst plotting as well as the tools I use. Another blogger – nicholeqw1023 gave us a glimpse of her notepad and I thought I might do the same. Now of course, I use a computer to write the actual thing but for plotting it’s a notepad all the way. Writing by hand stops me from deleting ideas I think are rubbish. The likely hood the at some point in the future I’ll stumble across a problem, look back at the idea from a different perspective and realize it’s the solution, is quite high. It saves me from agonizing; plus it’s more satisfying.
So this is my notepad. Having it around just makes me want to write. It’s just the right size that it fits in my bag but has plenty of paper which is great! The pen is my Great Grandad’s fountain pen which had had lots of use – it’s over fifty years old. Sometimes, when an idea pops into my head and I don’t have my notepad with me, I grab whatever is around me and use that: scrap paper, waiter dockets, you can even see an old receipt I used in the background of the photo above, Costa of course.
When I plot things, I need to know more than I will put in and I’m sure a lot of you feel the same. I sketch out maps to track character movements and write down events prior to the actual start of the story. Below is a purposely fuzzy photo (I don’t want to give anything away just yet) of a map and the history of one character in particular. One character in particular because it helps me get a sense of the sort of person they are.
Apart from the usual character profiles and story timeline I also do a page on how characters develop in the eyes of the reader from beginning to end. Are there any other interesting exercises you do when plotting? What do you use to plot? I’d love to know.
I now love plotting. I don’t know why exactly: perhaps it’s the moments when I finally solve those aggravating questions of “how do I overcome this plot hole?” and “how do I express this integral part of the plot?” That is likely it, the sense of fulfilment I get when it appears that everything is coming together.
The first idea for a story I ever had: I dived straight in, floated for a bit and then sank – the idea was terrible. The second idea I had: again, I got stuck in and managed to cough up a five hundred page manuscript of utter crap. This one had strong characters at least but the plot was tensionless. It was after these successive failures that I came to realise that I need to plot my ideas. I am no pantser.
Now, I do the very opposite. I plot to the Nth degree: character profiles, timelines and storyboards, maps, the lot. But is this just as productive? A few days ago, I was sat with my notebook and pen (as well as an overly large coffee), and it hit me; I did more writing when I hadn’t plotted than I do now. Yes, what I produced was no feat of literature but at least I was writing. I looked at six months of plotting and decided that if I wanted to take this seriously, I’d need to start the damn thing or it would never get done.
I suppose there is only so much planning you can do before it becomes unconstructive. It can go on forever. Stories in the real world are not structured, they are spontaneous so it makes sense that a novel should, to some extent, be the same. The truth was, I put off writing because of how important the start is and how hard it is to get it right. After a long walk and a heck of a lot of talking out loud, I finally came up with the first line that would do the job I wanted it to do. So far, I’ve managed to write the first page and I think I’ve got the tone right or thereabouts, that is important to me. It’ll probably get demolished in a few days but at least I’ve made a start. I have missed this.
How do you guys plot your ideas? Do you plot? I would love to hear from you.
As I said before, I’m not very good at maintaining blogs. I’ve had many embarrassing, failed attempts in the past; some haven’t even made it past the title! Perhaps it’s because I don’t know how to write blogs, maybe it’s because I concern myself more with the numbers than the actual writing or maybe it’s because I go all hardcore and then fizzle out after that fifth, unengaging and waffly post. Hopefully not this time.
So after a little thought, I’ve decided to start this blog the way which seems most blindingly obvious – an introduction. So how do I do that? Instantly that issue of being a novice to blogging emerges before I’ve even published my first post. Too many questions all with one answer – practice. Practice and experience are what will make me a better writer and that is exactly what I intend to use this blog to do. Not to help me become a better blogger, but to help me become a better writer.
I want to write something every day, that’s my aim, even if what I write is rubbish. I may not post every day, I can tell already that that’s not possible. I’m forgetful, busy and the pressure of posting every day will likely result in what happened many times before – an abandoned blog with a handful of shitty posts. I’ll post anything I feel is worth posting, writing whatever comes to mind; what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling.
So how will I get over those other problems? If writing a blog itself is what was the problem last time then this blog with some luck will rectify that. Fingers crossed I’ll receive encouragement and feedback to help me get better. What about that number obsessed aspect of blogging? Well, all I can say is that this time, my focus will be on improving my writing – something I can achieve without those page views. If any of you have tips for writing blog posts or writing in general then please comment below, they will all be greatly appreciated.
P.S. I can tell already that I’m not going to get along with this Grammarly application – too thorough for my liking.