Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Victoria James: Does the Journey Really Matter?
I thought the only way for me to tackle this deadline would be to plot.
Yes...the panster needed to become a plotter.
I have always been secretly envious of plotters. They seem so calm and organized. Glancing at their notes, writing in such a dignified, orderly manner. I should love plotting. I was meant to be a plotter. I mean, I thrive on organization in every other area of my life. I hate chaos. I love neat and tidy. Order. Plotting = Order.
I know Natalie Charles did a fab job at transforming herself into a plotter, due to necessity. I was thinking I should really give this a try.
First, I was going to buy index cards (I'd heard some plotters talking about these things, and I swear I was always so envious of the idea of neatly written cards. Some plotters even say they shuffle them around if they need to move a scene). OMG, this plotting thing is irresistible...
Here's the breakdown of my 7-day attempt at becoming a Plotter:
Day One: Buy Index Cards (I also bought these cute, bright pens which I thought would be perfect for colour-coding chapters/scenes/themes). Organize. Think. Make notes on synopsis. Doodle a few happy faces and hearts.
Day Two: Begin to plot...with new pens...chapter by chapter. Send email to Olivia Miles stating how great I think this plotting idea is (Olivia is the master plotter) and how I should have discovered this so much sooner. My life was now going to be so much easier! I had discovered the joys of plotting!
Day Three: Sit down to write a new scene that just popped into my head while driving kid #2 to school. Ooops, that scene wasn't anywhere in the stack of index cards! Rifle through index cards, make a new index card for new scene and insert it into the pile. Perfect. I can do this. Mental note: remember to refer to the damn cards before you start writing.
Day Four: Look at the index cards. Frown. Index Card 1A, written in pink pen is telling me to start the book with the heroine on the front porch. Hmmm. I'm not really sure that's how I want to start the book. Hmm. Scratch out a few things and start the book a different way.
Day Five: Look at index cards and try and write in order. But I rarely write in order. I eventually get there, because of course the story needs to be tied together, but I usually get down a bunch of scenes that are begging to be written. Frown. Drum fingers on desk. This writing out of order, whichever scene you feel like writing, does not sound like something a plotter would condone. Especially because the scene I write isn't in the index cards. It's a new scene. Which would lead to changes in the rest of the scenes-which means my perfectly plotted book... It's okay, you can still do this. Go back to Index Card 2A written in green pen and write the scene, like the card is telling you to!
Day Six: Glance over at index cards that have now become coasters for my coffee mugs and mumble a few curses in empty office at the cards.
Day Seven: Make all the pretty cards into paper airplanes and fly them, one by one from your desk to the four corners of your office, maybe with the occasional 'screw you' as one does a nose-dive on your desk.
So what's the point of my rambling? Don't try and change what isn't broken. I have always, always had scenes in my head about characters before the book was ever started. When I sit down to start that book, those are the first things I write. Or, most often, when I open the document those scenes have already been written because I had jotted them down and then saved them for when I was ready to start the manuscript. I'm always afraid that if I don't get those scenes written, I'll lose the passion and emotion I'm feeling for them. Often this leads me with a manuscript that is comprised of tons of scenes that need to be tied together. Or characters, that halfway through the manuscript decide to do something else. I can't deny them! I'm able to do that. It works for me. It may not be the cleanest, easiest way to do it, but it works. The manuscript gets written.
You write the way you write, and just because someone else's method looks like the 'right' way, doesn't mean it's right for you. We all have a point A and a point Z...does the journey really matter?
In case you're wondering, yes, the manuscript was handed in...
What about you? Are you a plotter wishing you could be more carefree and just let loose and write (though after reading my methods above, I can see why you'd be thinking 'hell, no!') Or are you a panster, secretly wishing you could change? Or are you just happy with your method?