Of best laid plans and subplots…

In every other piece of writing I’ve done, essays, short stories, longer pieces, articles, I’ve always planned first. Indeed, in my professional life as an English teacher, I spend my time encouraging my students to plan first, be that a series of bullet points, a concept map or a spider diagram. And it works. Or has worked. But not this time.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew what the end was before I even started writing this story. And I knew what the beginning was, too. The stuff in the middle…not so much. But, in some ways that seems, so far to have worked to my advantage. For the first time, I feel as though my characters are really talking to me, telling me their story, rather than me telling theirs.

This has led to a number of interesting rounds of mental gymnastics, and never have I been more grateful to have invested in Scrivener as a tool for organising my ideas. Plot twists and turns have occurred to me late at night, while I’ve been driving, gardening, sorting out the children’s dinner…you name it, I’ve had it!

All this is, of course, gratifying but also quite disorganised. I’m hoping, as this is the first time I’ve written this way, I might just be onto something with this story. By focussing on the events as I’m thinking about them, and worrying about continuity later, I find myself in possession of just over 118,000 words that are starting to make sense.

This latest can of worms is to do with a sub plot that I didn’t even realise needed shaking up until one of my male characters announced it, by walking into his brother’s kitchen. And the organisation of said worms might take a while, but, as the puzzle pieces fall into place I’m left thinking ‘Yes! Why did I not see this before?’ Ah, those pesky characters and their motivations. It’s going to be a wild ride…

2 thoughts on “Of best laid plans and subplots…

  1. There is planning, and then there is writing the plan, and somehow I always seem to have extra bits that grow out of what I thought was going to happen. I suppose the trick is to keep some sort of control over it!

  2. Absolutely – in fact, it’s the points as which I feel I’ve lost all control that it starts to overwhelm me. I think there’s a plan in my head, in as much as there’s the beginning, middle and end, and I’m fine so long as that doesn’t change too wildly, but when someone in the story does something a bit unexpected, then I start to lose my grip on it a bit and I have to rethink the plan! Currently wrestling with a scenario in the late second act of the book where my characters just won’t do what they’re told – and wondering if I should have outlined the whole thing somewhere other than my head a little better! 🙂 x

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