Lately on Rachel’s blog, she’s been doing articles and essays about outlining and planning her novels. Her latest method is using colorful index cards to summarize plot points, scenes, characters, all those fun things that go into novels, and it works for her.
My planning process? Maybe I’ll free-write in a notebook all the questions and ideas that come with the novel currently brewing in my mind, but that’s usually the extent of my “planning.” Usually I plan as I write, and it is not uncommon for half of my drafts to feature random notes in brackets smack in the middle of scenes. Most of those notes have to do with questions like, “Wait, why are my characters doing this? What is the point of this? What in the name of all that is holy is going on?!”
My notes tend to be tedious ramblings to help me figure out what road my plot was going down and when it decided to veer off of that path. In a way, they resemble the “chapter summary” way to outline that Rachel detailed in her Outlining: Tips and Ideas post.
Have I tried to plan out more details of my novel before writing? Yes, a couple of times, but they didn’t work for me. I generally have a loose idea as to where and how the story is going to go, and then I just start writing. I love it when I’m writing a scene and one of my characters does that something that is surprising and brilliant (and, once in a while, stupid), or when my subconscious had foreshadowed an important plot point 50 pages ago without me knowing it. I don’t think you can get that same feeling, not the exact same, with planning. You can always take a detour from your plans and outlines, of course, and those with planned novels probably get more of them written faster than us “pantsers” (please note that the only statistic regarding that last statement is Rachel versus me).
I’ve found that, with my few drafts that I have, it’s easier to see what the novel is about and where it’s going after the draft is done. Then I can “plan” what should and shouldn’t happen, also known as the editing process to me.
To me, writing is exactly like the quote at the top of this post. I may not have the best sense of direction, especially while driving, but eventually I’ll get to where I need to be.
(Visit me at my other blog: Mini Pawprints)