Plans are useful, but never perfect.

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Plans are useful.

Before I began writing, you know, actual words for my novel, I made a plan. I've done a significant amount of reading about writing, particularly novels, and found a model that's been helpful to me on a few different occasions for storytelling.

But plans aren't perfect.

I created a well-organized plan with a synopsis, character sheets, and a detailed chapter and scene plan. With these tools in place, I would write from start to finish without much thinking along the way. Only, that's not really how it works. Sure, I made the plan.

Sometimes the plan changes, and that's okay.

But as I approached a particular scene, the closer and closer I got to it, the more I felt like I needed to make a change from my original plan. The thought wasn't new—but it did keep creeping up and letting me know it was there even when I wasn't trying to think about it.

So, what happened?

The characters in my novel now have pretty strong voices, behaviors, motivations, and it's easy for me to know what decisions they would make in any given situation. Before writing, the plan made sense. But now that I'm essentially halfway through writing, and I've come across a few events that kind of made sense before, the characters tell me that those planned events no longer make sense. It's not that I couldn't force the original plan to work—it's just that it doesn't feel natural. So, I listened to the characters and let them guide me on where and how to take things in different directions.

The new plan.

It's much better than the original one, and it only deviates from the original one in a few key areas. I can't imagine sitting down and trying to force events to happen because I thought it was a good idea at some point in the past. That kind of thinking is limiting, creatively stunting, and stories that feel artificial, as if the author puppeteered everything.

Ultimately, this is all in my head: the story, the characters, choices, and impact on the events. But, at some point, everything took on a life of its own. Nurturing that character-depth results in more natural and better storytelling. Everything is much more believable.

What's new since last week?

  • I'm at around 64,000 words now. I wrote about 5,000 more but then threw them away because they didn't fit (the plan changed).
  • I'm almost to the halfway point as far as my planned chapters go.
  • That new character that I named as of last week—she's despicable. So, she turned out well. Not good, but well.
  • Related to novel research, I found an excellent new drink with a long and interesting history—more about that in future posts.