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.