If You Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail?

Fail to planI have been an avid reader of books for the best part of twenty-five years, so I have a good idea of what needs to go into a plot. That said, I want to give myself the best chance possible of completing the challenge I have set myself, and believe that the more preparation and planning I do, the more chance I have of accomplishing my goal. I do not want to write half of a story before I realise that the plot does not work and have to start again from scratch!

I mentioned in a previous post that I am going to use Holly Lisle’s book as a starting point to construct the plot of my novel. This is simply because I have never attempted to write a book before, and this mini course apparently provides you with all the ingredients you need to create a plot that will work. Having read the first few chapters, it seems almost a “paint by numbers” approach.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln

Here are a few benefits of planning out your work before you begin;

  • The thought of writing a whole book will seem less intimidating if you have already have a plan to guide you through the process.
  •  You can get a good idea of whether your plot is going to work – or if it is going to run out of steam before you get to the finish line.
  •  You will need to do less rewriting and changing the plot to make it work.
  •  Planning will reduce the likelihood of writers block, and not knowing what to write next.
  • You will see problems in the plot or characterisation ahead of time and avoid writing yourself into a dead end.
  •  You will be able to write faster if you have planned out where the story is going.

While some writers like to plan, others prefer to write by the seat of their pants, and with no planning, simply sit and write. They may find that having to stick to a plan once they are in the flow of writing can be restrictive, and instead like to be spontaneous and write freely as ideas come to them. Writing spontaneously can be exciting, surprising, and keep ideas fresh.

There are, of course, different degrees of preparation; from single concept to a scene by scene plan. Every writer will work in a different way and find a system that works for them. For me, as a first timer, I think the more detailed the better! Although, I will leave room for changes if I think they are necessary as I go along. What do you guys think? How much planning do you put in before you start a first draft? Do you prefer to just write and see where the plot takes you? Would love to hear your thoughts…..


Burning Ambitions

ocean quote I have always had the desire to write a book. I have no idea why, but it is just one of those things I really want to tick off of my list of life ambitions. My initial idea was to “blog” a book and put all of my thoughts into one place. But I also think it could be interesting to write about the process I am going through and the mistakes I make along the way (I am sure there will be many). This is going to be a real learning curve for me, and I hope that anyone who stumbles across these posts will feel free to leave their thoughts/opinions in the comment section.

I have a great love of reading and read as much as I can. I read somewhere before that you should write about what you know – if you like reading romance books, then write a romance book. The problem I have in deciding what to write about is that I like reading too many different genres! I can lose myself in a historical novel, science fiction, romance, horror or a crime solving mystery. I really need to think about what I am the most familiar with and know the most about and, most importantly, enjoy writing. Although this is an important decision to make

You don’t have to be great to get started, just get started to be great.

Nobody has ever become good at anything by not even trying! Make no mistake, I am not expecting to produce a magnificent work of fiction here, just the self-satisfaction of writing a complete novel. I should not let the fear of failing, or the fear that my novel will be a tragic insult to the craft of writing stop me from even starting this project. Everyone has to start somewhere, and once you have completed your desired project once, albeit badly, you have the ability to do it again with more knowledge and skill than you had in your armoury the first time around.

So far, I have read a few different books about how to plot a novel, but the book I am going to use in the first instance is Holly Lisle’s Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course. I have no idea how this is going to pan out, but this book is step by step, holding your hand all the way and claims that you can “have fun while you build a story that works”. We’ll see how this goes….