Thursday, 9 May 2013

To plan, or not to plan... Storylines, that is...

When writing a book, how many authors out there actually sit down and plan each stage of the story they're about to write? And how many of them would describe their style as more "flying by the seat of their pants"? I'm actually a bit of both. And I only ask this question because, as work on 'Extra Time' continues, this next installment of the Striker Trilogy seems to be developing a new twist or turn that was never there in the beginning on an almost daily basis.

Now, I can't just sit down and start writing without any kind of plan in front of me. I'm not that clever. I need to have notes, guidelines, some sort of plan in place. But even I know that any kind of plan I do make in the beginning isn't going to stay that way for long. But I never expected 'Extra Time' to throw up quite as many changes as it seems to be doing lately. These characters of mine really are talking to me, telling me where they want to go and why they need to go there, which is fine. That's alright. It's all falling into place, and it's only making writing this book all the more exciting as far as I'm concerned. Sometimes I sit down at this desk of mine not really knowing exactly what's going to happen as the day progresses, but by the end of the afternoon I'm usually pleasantly surprised by the results. 

This lot have been giving me a few problems lately... but their story continues in 'Extra Time'...

So, it got me wondering how many other authors out there start out with a planned storyline that looks almost completely different by the time their book is finished, and how many prefer to stick to a rigid plan with no changes whatsoever. Is it even possible to do that? Surely everyone makes changes as they go along, even if they're just tiny little ones? Don't they? Or can you really sit down and plan everything to the nth degree and stick to it rigidly? 

It always fascinates me, finding out how other authors write, what works best for them. Sometimes - especially when I first started out on this writing journey of mine - I used to think I was doing everything wrong, that I couldn't possibly "wing it", so to speak, and just let the story flow as I wrote it. I used to think basic notes weren't enough, that I had to have this rigid story plan in front of me and stick to it, but I soon found out that that was impossible. I can't do that. I have to let the story and the characters guide me, because they usually know what they're talking about, which is more than can be said for me half the time.

So, for anyone interested in another update as to how 'Extra Time' is coming along, the good news is that I think the characters have finally told me all I need to know now. At least, I hope they have. All these little changes mean I keep having to go back and rewrite more sections of the story, which then means I start that awful habit I have of editing as I go, even though I keep telling myself to stop doing that. It only slows things down, and things are moving slow enough as it is! However, with what I hope is the final twist coming to me late yesterday afternoon, I think I can now settle down and get this story written. I've got a completely new set of notes in front of me now, a revised plan, and an ending in mind that will set things up nicely for the third and final book in the trilogy. I'm happy. At last!

Right, I've rambled on enough for one day. It's time to get writing. But, before I go, a question for all the writers out there - what kind of an author are you? One that plans everything meticulously, or one that just lets the story happen? I'd love to know...


  1. I'd say I'm a lot like you - I have a very rough plan that shows me how I might from A to B. I map out chapter by chapter and then dive in. That's when the characters truly start talking to me and all the original notes get scrapped and re-written! I always think the next book's journey will be different but it never is. Guess it must work for us so I just go with the flow now :)

  2. Grande Plage wasn't planned at all. I had a rough story and let it flow. Always Running Away was planned and it's rubbish. Offside! has a start and finish, the in-between bits are just going to fill themselves as it comes to me and how I think the story should go.